TECH | Aug 20, 2019

Digital Twin: 5 challenges for 7 benefits

What are the developments, challenges and opportunities for businesses provided by Digital Twin?

Digital Twin, included by Gartner among the 10 strategic technologies for the future, will have a market, according to Juniper Research, of 13 billion dollars by 2023, with a strong increase compared with the estimated 9.8 billion dollars for 2019 and a 35% growth.

The demand for this technology, which in the Digital Twin White Paper recently published by Engineering, the General Director of Industry, Services and Infrastructure Alfredo Belsito defines “low-cost, zero-risk study and decision-making”, is fueled by companies increasingly adopting IoT and Cloud in addition to the best practices already available today in various sectors, such as healthcare, aerospace and defense, automotive and transportation.

The 5 challenges of Digital Twin

Balanced against the many advantages that the introduction of this technology can bring to the company, there are several challenges to be overcome:

  1. Connectivity, which must be fast, guaranteed and available in the different areas where the company resides in order to provide the opportunity to interact with the “digital twin” and to make decisions in real time. Unfortunately, this infrastructural condition cannot yet be taken for granted in many Italian realities.
  2. Hardware, i.e. the computing power that can be used to allow the real-time processing of the available data and to efficiently manage the indispensable sensors connected to Digital Twin.
  3. Long life cycles, i.e. designing the digital twin whilst taking into account the fact that many assets for which this technology is used are characterized by a long life cycle, which generally extends well beyond the validity of the proprietary software used for their design, simulation or analytics. This leads us to consider the selection of technologies to be used as a factor of success, taking into account their obsolescence.
  4. Human resources, which are at the heart of Digital Twin too, with their expertise to be made available for the development and management of this technology.
  5. Security, which has become transversal to various business sectors, is also invoked and becomes a challenge for Digital Twin, which, by its very nature, accumulates data, intellectual capital and therefore value for companies and must therefore be protected to avoid any damage to the company.

The 7 benefits of Digital Twin

Tackling the 6 challenges, certainly not trivial, enables companies to obtain very important benefits:

  1. Continuous improvement as the implementation of the Digital Twin concept involves many other digital technologies and innovations that, in turn, can be key factors to trigger process and business innovation in the company.
  2. Predictivity because by using different modeling techniques, the digital twin enables predicting the future status of relevant business assets as well as analyzing the impacts of any critical issues to be addressed.
  3. Scenario (what-if) analysis because, through correctly designed user interfaces, by interacting with Digital Twin, different scenarios can be tested in order to identify the best actions to be implemented in the real system.
  4. Visibility because by introducing this technology in the company it is possible to improve the visibility related to the operation of machines or of other company assets, as well as of larger interconnected systems.
  5. Knowledge because the digital twin can also be used as a communication and documentation tool to understand and explain the behavior of one or more systems.
  6. System Integration because Digital Twin can connect with other business applications to extract the data necessary for its operation.
  7. Disruptive business models because this technology not only enhances traditional business models, but also enables new ones, such as those based on concepts of “servitization”, where knowledge about the state of health of an asset and the proper planning of maintenance activities are essential to ensure an adequate level of service.