The supply chain is full of what-ifs. What if a storm impacts a shipment of products? What if a shipyard could be optimized to reduce berthing times at a seaport? What if a manufacturer is unable to ship products out as planned? Digital twins give businesses the ability to anticipate those what-ifs and develop strategies to handle them.
What is a Digital Twin?
A digital twin is simply a virtual representation of an entity of some type. In some cases, an entity can be a physical object, such as an engine or a bridge, but digital twins can also be used to replicate a process or system, like the supply chain.
Digital twins allow people to leverage data to see how objects and systems work in various conditions and situations. Unlike digital simulations, which tend to focus on one specific area at a time and don’t have the benefit of drawing from real-time data, digital twins give users a bigger picture by allowing multiple simulations to run simultaneously with the most up-to-date data available.
Applications for Digital Twins in Logistics
Logistics has always been very data-driven, but the data collection process has long been flawed and prone to human error. As that data collection becomes increasingly automated and digitized, digital twins can leverage that data to reduce information siloing and improve visibility throughout the entire supply chain, from raw materials to customer.
This increased visibility gives businesses the ability to examine data more effectively than ever before and utilize it to identify bottlenecks and other potential issues before they become serious problems. Packaging data, for instance, can be analyzed to determine which type of packaging would best protect the product from damage during shipment rather than experimenting with various types of packaging in a process of trial and error. Data collected in a warehouse could be utilized to help improve a layout so that operations can be more efficient. Transportation routes can be analyzed to look for problems that could cause delays in transit, like construction projects and inclement weather.
Technologies Driving the Growth of Digital Twins in Logistics
The growth of digital twins in logistics is being fueled by the simultaneous growth of other technologies. IoT technologies in particular play a crucial role in making it easier to gather data that had previously been difficult, if not impossible, to manually collect and in making that data available in real time. IoT technology has been expanding in recent years and has reached the point where it can reliably be used for large-scale applications.
The information gathered through digital logistics can also be used to create a framework for machine learning. AI technologies can take that data and learn how to act autonomously based on historical data patterns and current conditions. One potential application for this would be to predict when equipment needs maintenance, preventing inconvenient and costly delays down the line.
Digital Logistics Solutions
As the world of digital logistics continues to evolve, Bristlecone is prepared for the changes that lie ahead. Driven by speed, transparency, connectivity and resilience, Bristlecone is ready to help you create a smarter and more responsible supply chain.
Contact us to learn more about our services and solutions.