Digital twins tech will 'unlock multitude of opportunities'

19 July 2019

The technology of digital twins will “unlock a multitude of opportunities” for logistics and supply chain operations, according to a report.

In a report logistics company DHL outlined opportunities to connect data networks, increase efficiency, reduce waste, and build new business models.

Control towers and lead logistics partners will be vital for digital twin-enabled operations due to “the complexity of the assets involved and the speed of response required,” said the report. 

Digital twins create a virtual replica of a physical component or structure through data. These are useful for providing root causes of diagnostic issues, predicting problems and possible solutions, and giving access to data from remote or dangerous places such as inside an engine or on an oil rig.

Klaus Dohrmann, vice president of development engineering, manufacturing and energy at DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation, said: “In the near future, we expect the use of digital twins to grow exponentially, from individual applications to eco-systems, connecting assets in operations and entire supply chains from end to end. That will unlock a multitude of opportunities across all industry sectors.

“Logistics service providers will have a crucial role to play in this part of the digital twin revolution. Quite literally, it will be up to logistics professionals to deliver the full value of digital twins.”

DHL’s Digital Twins in Logistics report explored industries that could improve capabilities through digital twins, including manufacturing, packaging and materials, industrial components, healthcare, infrastructure, energy sector, retail and e-commerce.

Digital twins use five main technologies: the internet of things, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, virtual reality technology, and open standards and public application programming interfaces for better data sharing and exchange.

Companies currently “among the most advanced users” include aero engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, GE, and Pratt & Whitney. Meanwhile, energy companies have partnered to develop digital twins for use in offshore oil and gas projects. Aker BP and Siemens demonstrated the technology’s potential in the Ivar Aasen project off the Norwegian coast which “reduced manpower and optimised equipment maintenance”, according to the report.

DHL launched its first digital twins warehouse in Singapore for the food processing and packaging company Tetra Pak. The UK government’s Westminister restoration project also plans to use the technology for construction and supply chain logistics.

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