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Five use cases for digital twins in manufacturing

The digital twin is one of the fastest growing applications of Industrial IoT technology. It creates a complete digital replica of a physical object and uses the twin as the main point of digital communication. Today, almost a half of organizations using IoT say they already have or are planning to adopt digital twins.

Without going into too much technical detail on digital twins – you can read more about creating a digital twin, the challenges and security considerations here – the advantages of digital representation of a physical object are clear. You can monitor its performance while stress testing it under different circumstances. You can predict where failures might occur while running simulations to see how the product design can be improved. All without the need to disrupt or halt your operations.

Gartner has estimated that the use of digital twins will triple by 2022, so where is the technology best suited in manufacturing?

Digital twins in manufacturing: transforming business

It seems today that the Digital Twin is becoming about as ubiquitous as IoT devices themselves. Popular use cases for digital twins in manufacturing include:

Quality management
Continuous monitoring of product data from IoT devices has clear advantages for quality management over random inspection. The digital twin can monitor and model every part of the production process to identify where quality issues may occur as well as analyze the composition of the product being created to ascertain whether there were better materials and production processes that could be used.

Product re-design
Conversions of production to other products or smaller series and runs can be run through first in the digital twin. It allows you to both model how product customization will affect the production process and also change how the process works to accommodate this customization. For example, the digital twin can provide specific product data to the production equipment to allow it to create a different product variant without extensive re-tooling that suspend the line for days or weeks.

System planning/virtual start-up
The analysis of historical comparative data from similar systems within your plant makes it possible to predict the performance of a system that has not yet been constructed. The digital twin allows you to use this information to model different scenarios for the new equipment and identify areas where new plants can be improved over previous production systems.

Logistics planning
The digital twin can help you optimize your supply chain. It can allow you to gain a much clearer view of materials usage and provide the opportunity to automate the replenishment process. Where lean or agile manufacturing processes are used ­– just-in-time or just-in-sequence production, for example – this can result in significant increases in efficiency.

Product development
Virtual simulations help with development of new product and product variants. Data collected from the use of a product can also help develop and improve version control. The digital twin allows you to blend data from your production system with data from other enterprise applications such as your ERP, CRM or CEM systems so that you can include real world feedback on product use during the product re-design process.

Digital Twins in manufacturing: the need for an IoT platform

Analyst firm Forrester suggests the rapid adoption of digital twins is driving the uptake in IoT platforms as the environment surrounding Industrial IoT and digital twins becomes increasingly complex.

Many OEMs are now supplying a digital twin as part of the product sale. We have digital twins at the individual component, system, asset and entire production process level. Manufacturing companies aren’t managing a single digital twin, they are faced with composite implementations of hundreds or thousands of smaller digital twins. They are taking control of ecosystems of digital twins and this requires extremely effective management.

With different IoT standards, different types of digital twin and a growing variety of people and systems requiring connection, an identity-driven IoT platform is the only solution for the secure access, data integrity and comprehensive management capabilities you require.

The Industrial IoT in manufacturing are key topics at OpenText™ Enterprise World 2019 in Singapore and Toronto. Reserve your place today. You can find more about digital twins in manufacturing by contacting us.


Are you ready for the Intelligent and Connected Enterprise? Join us at OpenText Enterprise World 2019 to hear how we’re enabling the Intelligent and Connected Enterprise with AI and the Internet of Things.

Tom Leeson

Tom is Industry Marketing Strategist for the Manufacturing Sector globally. An Engineer by Trade, and Mathematician by Education, Tom’s entire career has been spent in Engineering, Manufacturing and IT helping customers digitally transform their business and their manufacturing sector. With Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things, Manufacturing lives in exciting times, so there is much to talk about.

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