One of the pandemic’s harshest lessons for businesses was a severe lack of scenario planning. According to Accenture, this meant that when the crunch came, supply chains were unprepared for disruption.

Carter McNabb, Managing Director of Supply Chain & Operations at Accenture, says that one of the key ways that businesses can implement resilience stress tests is by using digital twins. Digital twins, or replicas of physical products in the virtual world, allow for improved efficiencies and better performance outcomes, when used effectively.

A digital twin is appealing to businesses because of its ability to create simulations of real infrastructure in development, which can in best practice lead to effortless execution,” says McNabb. 

According to Accenture, digital twin modelling allows for better assessment of operational and financial disruptions, helping organisations to mitigate risks. By using AI and ML algorithms, digital twins provide businesses with insights to better inform decision making and test the business’s own infrastructure.

Referencing the use case of digital twins in the construction industry, McNabb told Which-50, “With this pioneering technology, builders can repeatedly model buildings before they are built, or simulate how material decisions can affect factors like wind conditions around the building or how a fire would spread.

“Additionally, it can monitor a building after construction, taking millions of data points into consideration to better optimise spaces in the building, make it more sustainable and safe, and to detect in advance when equipment might need servicing — which can be very helpful in preventing building issues.”

McNabb highlighted a case where digital twins assisted a European postal company by creating a virtual replica of its Regional Delivery Office. In this instance, the company used digital twin technology to test internal processes and shipping logistics which brought about considerable cost savings and consolidation. 

As all new technologies come with risk, McNabb drew attention to the ethical implications of digital twins that are yet to be addressed.

“Ownership rights of a digital twin, once the physical embodiment or replica is built or sold, need to be properly defined. It is also crucial that data gained and used to manage a digital twin is secure and the appropriate permissions to leverage that data are granted.

“As digital twin technologies continue to gain traction and are refined, there are opportunities for adoption costs to be brought down in the future, breaking down walls for small businesses and more industries.”

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