digital twins

These 7 Industrial Sectors Are Seeing Remarkable Results From Digital Twins

July 12, 2023 - Emily Newton

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Industrial sector digital twins are transforming countless businesses all over the world. Data-driven devices like IoT sensors and AI platforms are powering rapid innovation in digital twin technologies. These advanced digital models are showing remarkable results in seven industrial sectors in particular.  

What Is a Digital Twin?

A digital twin is a virtual model or representation of a real-world object or system. Digital twins are powerful tools for analysis and optimization. Businesses use these models to make more informed decisions, improve operational efficiency, build accurate maintenance strategies and more.A digital twin is not the same as a simulation, though. Simulations have a more limited scope and are often removed from real-world systems. A digital twin can be a type of simulation, but it is specifically focused on accurately modeling a real system or object with a high level of detail.

Digital Twin Applications: Sectors Seeing Remarkable Results

The best way to understand how digital twins work and their many benefits is to see them in action. Many industries use this technology to improve operations and processes. Take a look at today’s top seven industrial sectors for digital twin technology. 

1. Manufacturing

There’s no better example of a digital twin application than in the manufacturing industry. Empowering product development, unique design, at-scale personalization, predictive maintenance and more, digital twins revolutionize the industry. The next industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, is primarily fueled by digital and data-driven technologies, including digital twins.

In product development, engineers can test the feasibility of planned or upcoming projects before launch, even before trials or consumer tests. The results can then fine-tune the products, leading to more successful initiatives.

Similar things can happen with unique designs and at-scale customization. Designers and project managers can generate potential product variants, whether style or feature changes. Those efforts offer better flexibility for customers. They can even support new opportunities, such as manufacturing-as-a-service, which is incredibly important to the future of the industry.

2. Automotive

Automotive design departments increasingly utilize digital twins to improve R&D efficiency and innovate vehicle performance. Designing new vehicles is a highly complex process, especially regarding safety. Digital twins make it easier for R&D teams to test out new vehicles with fewer resources. 

Digital twins streamline the design process and help inform future decisions using real-world data. Auto manufacturers now have the tools and technologies to test vehicle concepts before sending prototypes out to a testing track or physical roadway.

Additionally, the predictive analytics tools in digital twin platforms can provide insights that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. This includes essential data like safety vulnerabilities, structural risks, user interface issues and more. 

3. Supply Chain

Nearly every business today has faced supply chain disruptions at some point. Predicting shortages and delays is very difficult and makes it a challenge to forecast supply and demand accurately. Digital twins can help with this issue. 

With AI-powered virtual models, supply chain professionals can model the complex routes their products take around the world. For instance, they can analyze a virtual mock-up of their 3rd party logistics roadmaps or view how larger supply chain activity impacts their manufacturing process. This data provides invaluable insights that improve the accuracy of supply chain planning. 

Additionally, logistics professionals can use these advanced models to improve the efficiency of warehouses, a vital component of every supply chain. Digital twins allow logistics teams to try new strategies without disrupting real-world operations. As a result, logistics teams can optimize warehouses in less time and at a lower cost. 

Virtual models are also an integral part of the ever-evolving digital supply chain. The digital supply chain is vastly improving operations through technologies like advanced analytics, robotics, automation, rapid manufacturing and more.

4. Architecture

Digital twins are an instrumental emerging technology in the world of architectural design. Architects typically try to design structures based on specific criteria, needs and expectations. However, there are sometimes curveballs that complicate the design process.

Digital twins can help architects find creative solutions to real-world challenges and better visualize and understand their projects. Digital twins merge Building Information Modeling, or BIM, data with scans and operational data to create incredibly accurate digital representations of buildings or entire communities.

Additionally, architects can work more directly with stakeholders and construction teams by leveraging digital twins’ real-world data. For example, data and modeling from previous projects can help inform future designs.

5. Construction

Digital twins are helping construction teams plan out projects and monitor them in real-time. The high level of visibility digital twins provide is invaluable for project managers. They can readily see what is or isn’t going to work in the larger context of the entire structure and surrounding terrain. This reduces the likelihood of errors and rework, which also decreases the risk of budget overruns.

Construction teams can pool data from many sources into digital twins, creating a highly detailed view of their work site. This includes data from geographic surveys, drone scans, building designs, site operations and more. Access to this information in one comprehensive modeling program helps the construction team stay on track and optimize site operations. 

6. Health care

Health care professionals can use digital twins to optimize facility operations, improve hospital designs and innovate medical equipment. Testing new optimization strategies and product designs poses a particular challenge in health care since people’s lives and safety are directly affected. Digital twins are an ideal solution to this challenge. 

Hospital architects can use digital twins to predict and model everyday operations, including possible safety concerns. For example, a digital twin might reveal that moving the main entrance to the emergency room would make it easier and faster for ambulances to bring patients to the hospital. Even small changes can save lives when it comes to designing for the health care industry. 

The potential for life-saving positive design changes through digital twins also applies to health care technology. For example, the Philips’ HeartModel platform creates a highly personalized view of a patient’s heart based entirely on 2D ultrasound images. It allows health care professionals to build a visual and digital twin of a patient’s heart to be used for further study. 

7. Retail

Retailers can use digital twins to analyze market data, supply chains and physical retail spaces. By merging real-world data with market research like surveys and shopping trends, retailers can get a comprehensive view of their customers’ needs. 

They can use digital twins to model retail spaces and systems, creating a customized, innovative experience. For example, European start-up Pygmalios utilizes retail 4.0 technology to improve in-store experiences with the help of real-time data from IoT sensors. 

Store owners can use the collected information to build real-world maps of customer activity, revealing high-traffic routes through their stores. They can also see information like average customer demographic, purchase trends or even overlooked products on shelves and displays.

Industrial Sector Digital Twins Are Shaping Our Future

Industrial sector digital twins are transforming products, spaces and systems to deliver a safer, streamlined experience for everyone. From warehouses to hospitals, these advanced models have a vast range of applications. 

They can help automotive manufacturers design safer vehicles and give manufacturers tools to improve operational efficiency. Digital twins will soon be applied in virtually every industry, acting as a vital part of research, design and innovation. 

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on October 21, 2021 and updated on July 12, 2023 to provide readers with more updated information.

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.


Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist and the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She manages the sites publishing schedule, SEO optimization and content strategy. Emily enjoys writing and researching articles about how technology is changing every industry. When she isn't working, Emily enjoys playing video games or curling up with a good book.

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