Country lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic have had a devastating effect on companies around the globe – revenues have been upended and traditional work patterns supplanted. Fortunately, increased IoT connectivity, coupled with advances in digital twin technology, can help businesses reduce costs. They can do so by improving their situation awareness and automating their business responses to changing conditions.
The Potential Impact of Digital Twins
Digital twins can help companies predict equipment failures before they delay production, enabling repairs to be carried out early or at less cost. Further savings are available from enhanced automation.
In the rail industry one rail operator reported savings of approximately 10% when it switched away from traditional to condition-based preventive maintenance for its rolling stock. Implemented across an entire rail network, the monetary value could be substantial.
The oil and gas industry has adopted digital twins for modelling and analysing the operation of oil rigs, pipelines and processing facilities. By deploying advanced analytics such as machine learning (ML), and increased automation, it is possible to reduce downtime and extend the life of high-value assets. One real-life example used predictive maintenance analytics to interrogate historical data, which revealed the imminent failure of a major component on an offshore platform. This helped prevent a week of unscheduled downtime and associated lost production. This one saving paid back the company’s investment in digital twin technology in less than a year.
The healthcare sector also experiences the benefits for digital twins. One healthcare provider reported that the use of digital twins for patient monitoring reduced the occurrence of bed sores by 85%, which also eased the load on care workers. Another provider used the technology to lessen potentially critical patient declining health incidents, such as heart and respiratory failure, by 60%. The value to increasingly hard-pressed medical services is highly compelling.
Finally, the supply chain industry has benefited from IoT connectivity and digital twins.
For example, a supply chain company specialising in blood and plasma used location and condition monitoring of high-value goods to reduce its compliance-related disposals by more than 90% for the cities in which it had deployed the solution. The same operation also used the digital twin data of its pallets to renegotiate its insurance fee structure, as the risk model had changed now that it had access to real-time data. These outcomes saved money and helped save lives – it’s a win-win proposition that reduces overheads while also improve service levels.
A New World
Companies that are deploying these types of technologies are becoming more cost-effective and competitive. In a world that is being remodelled by COVID-19 that’s an advantage that all businesses should grasp with both hands. These digital twins aren’t passing fads – they are increasingly mainstream tools that enable better data-driven business decisions – and as they proliferate, they are reshaping how businesses operate and perform.