Enterprises are becoming increasingly more open to providing supply chain planning as many simulate products or buildings. Supply chain twins are constructing the diffuse connections between raw materials, finished goods and customers. COVID-19 has also brought sanctions to their hands.
Digital twins may assist anticipate these scenarios and develop alternate strategies to meet customer expectations at an all-time low. Everything from shipping to trucking and other means of transport, inventory in warehouses and distribution centers, and the last-mile delivery of goods to their destination
"Everybody in the building and business is seeing the same picture," Harpreet Gulati, the senior vice president of supply chain management at Aveva, says. Supply chain twins can also enables collaboration across planning, scheduling, operations, and distribution, and ensure that everyone has the same understanding of a plant and business.
Here are 18 ways digital twins are being used to streamline supply chain planning:
Operational planning assists in arranging procurement and shipping activities from a few weeks to a few months out. This includes elements such as the ocean liners carrying goods for the next season, and parts and raw materials for automobiles, trucks, and industrial equipment to be manufactured over the next quarter. Amraotkar has stated that the technology is not just enabling enterprises to keep abreast of recent bottlenecks at ports and other routes to select cost-effective alternatives.
"Supply chain digital twins can benefit from staying at bay fairly in real-time," Amraotkar said. Tactical planning assists with reducing unplanned events that result in complex components across the whole value chain. He cautions that individual stakeholders may take appropriate decisions without taking actions that would be beneficial in isolation. Each decision would be good, but it would be counterproductive if those factors do not align in the same direction.
A typical supply chain employee creates a monthly recommended sales and operations plan for consideration and sign-off. This strategy connects sales orders and forecasts with the business's capacity to manufacture and acquire required goods to meet demand demand. Risk value, the confidence levels of demand requests, and other potential hazards, such as factory maintenance shutdowns or procurement delays, are also discussed. Digital twins may assist organizations in determining what-if scenarios.
According to Jim Poole, the transportation industry is considering expanding their as-a-service business models that use digital twins to estimate the cost of different services. For example, train manufacturers typically buy trains, spares, maintenance contracts, and other necessary transport equipment from a train manufacturer. This is only true if the train manufacturer can both model their equipment and integrate real-time performance data from the sensor on the train.
Digital twins may improve the configurations of goods used for moving goods, such as trucks, planes, and trains, according to Jason Kasper. Companies are beginning to improve the performance of these assets by collecting sensor information, conducting simulations, and analyzing the data to assess failure modes, timings, and the resulting business impact. "If you consider the digital twin configuration first as the foundation and as the appropriate tools, you can improve supply chain forecasting, decrease maintenance decisions, and increased uptime of critical assets," Kasper said.
Micron Technologies, a global leader in semiconductor processing solutions, and the world's fourth largest semiconductor company, have created digital twins, representing their end-to-end physical supply chain in detailed software analyses. These models capture semiconductor manufacturing and distribution information across front-end wafer fabs and back-end assembly and test facilities. Micron can also anticipate capacity shortages before introducing them to the physical world.
According to Tamir Strauss, the company's chief product and technology officer, supply chain twins might be able to determine when stock levels in warehouses will be enough for the next few weeks, and recommend using ocean transportation for freight scheduled to be delivered by air. It would have to identify new pickup routes from the factories to ports rather than airports, track space availability on relevant ships and possibly combine goods from additional manufacturers into one container to reduce costs and environmental impact.
Digital twins can help companies keep pace with increasing customer demand for more sustainable products. World-class delivery companies find that optimal route planning gets customer packages delivered on time, reduces environmental pollution by condensing time on the road. According to Adrian Wood, the DELMIA at Dassault Systemes, there is often a tradeoff, and digital twins can help effectively represent tradeoffs between environmental factors, efficiency and expenditure.
"There would be no circular economy without digital twins," he said.
Energy firms are turning to digital twins to help assess the implications of new market dynamics. For example, BP's oil & gas downstream business processes 1.7 million barrels of crude per day in eight oil refineries across the globe. BP adopted AVEVA Unified Supply Chain to conduct quick analysis, meaning their analysts can better assess commercial risks and economic drivers as they arise with accurate, real-time data. BP's process engineers can also communicate effectively with plant operators and stakeholders, reducing risk and improving safety.
Gaurav Gupta, a global logistics company, has recently worked with a global logistics company, which used digital twins to optimize fleet routing and reduce its annual gasoline consumption by about 10 million barrels, resulting in $400 million in costs savings. In another case, a global retailer employed Google Earth Engine, satellite imagery, and Google's BigQuery cloud data warehouse to observe how sustainable sourced its palm oil.
Datagen's founder and CEO believes that learning about technology can help improve productivity. Using digital tools, data and experience to measure individual aches and pains in relation to product development.
One of the most effective uses for a digital twin in the supply chain industry is to conduct a virtual stress test, according to Zach Gomez, the senior director of realtime robotics. Some businesses sell half of their annual volume during peak holiday shopping months. This means everything from technology to the processes and procedures must work as intended. However, the entire facility is simulated to help an organization assess their planning, identify potential flaws. Improvements and fixes may be made, then re-simulated.
"This can dramatically reduce the time and expense of running a real-world stress test, allowing you to simulate it until you complete it," Gomez said.