Leveraging the Power of a Digital Twin in Supply Chain

A digital twin enables the virtual representation of something – be it a single object or an entire system – from the real world.

It builds an exact picture by connecting data together, which not only gives the real time view, but crucially allows for planning and predictions on the impact making changes could have. Within logistics, a sector notorious for vast amounts of often disconnected and complex data, a digital twin is a copy of an entire supply chain network.

The capabilities and insight offered by a digital twin can have a truly transformational impact on how businesses operate. It gives an end-to-end real time view of operations, which an organisation can then run simulations against using AI to test, plan and identify issues and opportunities. Understanding how and where a digital twin can be used is critical to truly unlocking their power, and ultimately driving lasting positive impact on the supply chain. Within this article, we examine four key areas that businesses can leverage the capabilities of digital twins to improve operations and bring greater agility.

Spotting potential bottlenecks

One of the challenges that businesses often face is the lack of insight into how specific areas of their supply chain are performing, especially if they use third-party suppliers. In fact, sometimes the first indication of a problem is through customer feedback, when issues are reported. The benefit of a digital twin being made up of real time data sets, which reflect each and every change to supply chain operations as they happen, gives the ability to identify disruption, obstacles or simply spot where things aren’t running as smoothly as they should be.

Planning and predicting 

For a long time, organisations have made predictions on inventory requirements based on historical data. Given the turbulent times of recent years, and the impact this has had – and continues to have – on supply chains, this data is not reflective of operations today, and as a result not a reliable way to predict inventory needs. Having access to real-time data through the digital twin enables greater accuracy and insight, so that businesses can make smarter, more strategic decisions.

Contingency testing

In the current climate, business resilience is more critical than ever, and having the ability to test, plan and prepare for future events and upheaval is hugely valuable. Using a digital twin to map where and how changes could be made in the future to counteract issues – and the impact this could have on operations – puts businesses in a far stronger position to manage operations. Whether it’s something as simple as testing a new warehouse location or a more complex and serious event such as potential global conflict, contingency testing gives organisations the ability to navigate global challenges and continue to run efficient operations.

Empowering with knowledge to make better decisions

In today’s face paced digital world, businesses are expected to make important decisions quickly. Digital twins empower organisations with the real-time insight and understanding they need to do this seamlessly. Not only does this mean they have the agility to respond and react when needed, but critically, it also means they can feel confident in the decisions they are making.

With so many external factors impacting the supply chain like never before, having resilience is critical. Digital twins give organisations the opportunity to make smarter decisions, predict and resolve bottlenecks before they happen and plan for events that could impact operations. Now more than ever, businesses need to feel confident in the decisions they are making regarding their supply chain operations, so they are not only in a position to survive but thrive, which digital twins can sit at the heart of enabling.

About the Author

Philip Ashton is founder and CEO, 7bridges. The 7bridges platform generates ROI in just four weeks, and drives 30% savings on direct costs for our customers. Unlike other logistics technologies, we’re fast to integrate: for many the process takes less than two weeks. Our platform is flexible and scalable – and comes without the capital expenditure (CapEx) needed to build and maintain your own tools (or paying a consultancy to develop them for you). We’re confident that the 7bridges platform is the last logistics integration you’ll ever need to make, to future-proof your business.

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