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back to index backAMERItalk June,  2017


Industry 4.0 and the digital twin

Manufacturing meets its match.

As manufacturing processes become increasingly digital, the digital twin is now within reach. By providing companies with a complete digital footprint of products, the digital twin enables companies to detect physical issues sooner, predict outcomes more accurately, and build better products.

here can be no turning back. Manufacturing processes are becoming increasingly digital. As this trend unfolds, many companies often struggle to determine what they should be doing to drive and deliver real value both operationally and strategically. Indeed, digital solutions may promise significant value for an organization—value that could never have been realized prior to the advent of connected, smart technologies. Of particular fascination of late seems to be the notion of a digital twin: a near-real-time digital image of a physical object or process that helps optimize business performance.

Until recently, the digital twin—and the massive amounts of data it processes—often remained elusive to enterprises due to limitations in digital technology capabilities as well as prohibitive computing, storage, and bandwidth costs. Such obstacles, however, have diminished dramatically in recent years.1 Significantly lower costs and improved power and capabilities have led to exponential changes that can enable leaders to combine information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT) to enable the creation and use of a digital twin.2

So why is the digital twin so important, and why should organizations consider it? The digital twin can allow companies to have a complete digital footprint of their products from design and development through the end of the product life cycle. This, in turn, may enable them to understand not only the product as designed but also the system that built the product and how the product is used in the field. With the creation of the digital twin, companies may realize significant value in the areas of speed to market with a new product, improved operations, reduced defects, and emerging new business models to drive revenue.

The digital twin may enable companies to solve physical issues faster by detecting them sooner, predict outcomes to a much higher degree of accuracy, design and build better products, and, ultimately, better serve their customers. With this type of smart architecture design, companies may realize value and benefits iteratively and faster than ever before.

It can be a daunting task to create a digital twin if a company would like to try this all at once. The key could be to start in one area, deliver value there, and continue to develop. But before anything else, enterprises should first understand the definition of and approach to the development of the digital twin in order to avoid being overwhelmed. In the pages that follow, we discuss the digital twin—its definition, the way it can be created, how it could drive value, its typical applications in the real world, and how a company can prepare for the digital twin planning process.

Digital twin: What it is, and why it matters

Industry and academia define a digital twin in several different ways. However, perhaps neither group places the required emphasis on the process aspects of a digital twin. For example, according to some, a digital twin is an integrated model of an as-built product that is intended to reflect all manufacturing defects and be continually updated to include the wear and tear sustained while in use.3 Other widely circulated definitions describe the digital twin as a sensor-enabled digital model of a physical object that simulates the object in a live setting.

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Source: Deloitte - GAI



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