IoT 6 mins read

Predict, Test, and Succeed with IoT Digital Twins

Digital twins in IoT — a customer experience, sustainability, operations, and productivity differentiator

Jean-Philippe Richard-Charman Jean-Philippe Richard-Charman

Forward-thinking equipment and machinery manufacturers realize that digital twins provide a unique opportunity to enhance the overall user experience and drive customer satisfaction while helping hit performance and sustainability targets.

A digital twin is a dynamic virtual representation of a real-world entity or system. “The software object or model mirrors a unique physical object, process, organization, person or other abstraction,” explains analyst firm Gartner1. The beauty of digital twins is that they can be scaled up and down as needed based on the complexity of the ecosystem. Data from multiple digital twins can be collected for a combined view of a city, for example, detailing its related processes.

In the same way, a digital twin of a customer can be used to accurately simulate the customer experience, anticipate events, and provide intelligence for future predictions. As a result, digital twins, which started as models in the automotive, defense, and aerospace industries, are now appearing in a host of applications, including supply chains and logistics, healthcare, and energy monitoring in commercial buildings. Enterprises can take advantage of the technology to achieve a wide range of goals.

Benefits of digital twins

Analysts predict that by 2025, 80% of industry ecosystem participants will leverage their own product, asset, and process digital twins to share data and insight with other participants, according to IDC2.

Digital twins can improve performance and operational efficiencies and save resources and costs. In the broader ecosystem, digital twins can improve supply chain efficiencies and agility and drive sustainability efforts. Remote monitoring in a 3D twin of its physical counterpart can enhance productivity and collaboration, for example. Digital twins also provide valuable insight for research and development into products and services that can accelerate market time and boost customer satisfaction.

Digital twins are also invaluable when it comes to customer experience. Just as a digital twin can be used in factory production lines for predictive maintenance, a digital twin of a customer can be used to replicate and anticipate customer behavior. Flexco’s customers leverage their Elevate solution to boost production output via predictive monitoring, reduce labor costs involved in maintenance, and reduce downtime of key assets.

Gartner3 also points out the importance of a digital twin in underscoring consumer confidence. “A digital twin can help businesses improve that experience and retain loyalty while identifying the friction points that lead customers to defect to competitors,” the analysts explain.

Digital twins can provide a dynamic, virtual representation of customers, providing companies with insight previously not possible to achieve. They can be used to test sales messaging, for example, and predict what will and will not work in marketing campaigns.

It is not surprising then, that with the extraordinary capabilities of digital twins, Gartner predicts the digital twin-enabling software and services market will hit $150 billion by 2030, up from just $9 billion in 20224.

Interpreting data from connected devices

As more and more IoT devices become connected with the ability to produce data, having a digital replica enables enterprises to optimize deployment and performance and create other what-if scenarios that can benefit partners, customers, and consumers.

Data collected by IoT devices is delivered to the cloud, where it can be used for various applications, including digital twins. For example, asset tracking devices on cargo can continuously monitor the transit and environmental conditions of the containers. This data can be imported into a digital twin to look at the efficiency of freight transport and find areas for improvement. It is important to note that to exploit digital twins, companies need to be digitally mature and have a robust supporting data infrastructure.

Digital twins are an advantage that should be leveraged, specifically in relation to reducing the complexity in IoT ecosystems. With Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT solution, you can build an IoT device digital twin for any purpose, be it enhancing performance or predicting downtime. There is no limit to the devices enterprises can connect, enabling better energy management and quality control, for example. The possibilities are infinite, from running simulations to generating possible enhancements.

Simplifying onboarding and managing IoT devices can be complex. Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT device management capabilities enables you to have complete visibility to easily and efficiently connect and manage devices. Using self-service analytics, in-house technical teams can question process data and search trends without the help of a data scientist. For example, a leading wind turbine manufacturer created digital twins of its assets, utilizing Cumulocity IoT to remotely manage its equipment, each consisting of up to 100 controllers, across many networks.

Putting the power of the digital twin into practice

The Geico Taikisha Group, a leader in the design and construction of turnkey automated body paint shops, is known for its commitment to protecting the planet for future generations. It was the first company to offer a zero environmental impact paint shop, reducing consumption by 70% and hitting its sustainability goal three years ahead of schedule.

Technology has played a critical role in the company’s growth, mass customization, and sustainability ambitions. It was quick to see the benefits of IoT in providing added-value services, increasing efficiencies, reducing downtime, and cutting delivery times.

Geico opted to deploy Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT platform based on its affordability, modularity, flexibility, and support for edge computing. The latter was essential in providing powerful data streaming and faster analytics by bringing computation and data storage closer to the data source.

IoT has given Geico access to remote monitoring. IoT sensors have enabled the company to track how machines perform once shipped. This data is being used to improve paint cell performance.

Digital twins are now being used to show customers the value of machines to their businesses via a digital twin environment. With digital twin technology, customers can see a simulation of potential efficiencies and savings in remote monitoring, performance management, and meeting sustainability initiatives — all before purchasing.

The future of digital twins

The potential that digital twins have in almost all industries is endless. They can predict the behaviors of both people and machines, enhance design, improve performance, and allow companies to better understand the usage of their products and services.

Companies must be agile, flexible, and resilient in increasingly volatile and dynamic markets. Digital twins provide a fool proof route to testing before costly commitments are made — and one that market leading companies are taking advantage of right now.