blogs & Things

Supply Chain Digital Twins – The What, The Who & The Why You Really Need One Now…

The next Industrial Revolution is here… but this time it’s a digital revolution and it’s taking place in the Cloud.

Current expectations peg Industry 4.0 at being worth over £160B in the next four years as more and more organisations embrace the possibilities of digitisation and the cloud.

One of the biggest drivers of that growth in the manufacturing and logistics sector is Supply Chain Digital Twin technology, increasing efficiency and revenue as it improves the customer experience.

 

What Is A Supply Chain Digital Twin?

Supply Chain Digital Twins are detailed simulations or models of real supply chains, built using real-time data that are capable of forecasting success or failure based on suggested actions.

That data can be gathered from thousands of disparate sources but will usually include:

 

 

From there, business analysts can better understand a supply chains behaviour, predict what to do in the case of unusual or abnormal situations and work to make the overall supply chain more robust, efficient and profitable.

 

Supply Chain Digital Twins can be put to a wide-ranging set of uses but some of the most common examples include:

 

  • Analysing supply chain dynamics and behaviours
  • Bottleneck discovery
  • AB testing of potential changes to the supply chain
  • Risk monitoring
  • Logistics planning
  • Inventory management optimisation
  • In-depth cash to serve / cost to serve analysis

 

What’s The Difference Between A Supply Chain ‘Digital Twin’ And A Normal Supply Chain Simulation?

The first and biggest difference between the two is the level of detail.

A Digital Twin of a supply chain needs to be detailed enough to be able to analyse the entire supply chain and all it’s myriad of interactions on the macro level… right down to the micro level of individual departments or even people in the warehouse.

It needs to enable, support and empower functions such as the accurate prediction of financial and SKU flows, demand variability identification, scenario testing and a whole lot more.

It should also be able to use live information feeds in its modelling, from IoT data to incoming shipping schedules to warehouse inventor levels. For the model to be accurate, the data needs to be as up to date as possible.

As well as live data feeds, the Digital Twin also needs to have configurable notifications so that users can be alerted to unusual or abnormal situations so as to respond to them in a timely manner. On top of the notifications, a Supply Chain Digital Twin should also support the creation of custom triggers, allowing the user(s) to create custom actions based on predetermined scenarios (for instance an item being out of stock).

 

Who’s Already Using Supply Chain Digital Twin Technology?

Clearly the answer is… everybody should be using it… but the technology behind digital twins is still fairly new.

Early adopters that have incorporated it into their business model include global manufacturers, logistical and warehousing organisations and energy producers (oil and gas).

 

One of the biggest logistic companies to utilise the benefits Supply Twin Digital Twins bring is DHL, using it to create a digital twin of their warehouses in Singapore that receives real-time data from the ‘real’ warehouse to track performance and identify optimal storage solutions.

 

Another sector benefitting from Digital Twin tech is energy supply.

GE Wind Energy recently developed a digital twin for their of their 6MW wind turbines in the North Sea to help overcomes issues around correctly balancing the wind turbines loads under varying weather conditions.

The ‘digital twin’ now allows them to monitor critical temperatures they collate from virtual sensors on the digital twin to better compute the motors temperature, thus maximising it’s performance and preventing catastrophic overheating.

 

Benefits To A Supply Chain Digital Twin

Supply Chain Digital Twins an do a lot, that’s kind of the whole point of them… they’re creating a ‘digital twin’ of your entire supply chain to allow you to better monitor and optimise its efficiency.

 

  • Optimise Supply Chain Processes Efficiency: A well designed digital twin, with the right data flowing into it, can help an organisation better understand pattens within their operations (good and bad) and then model the outcomes of different changes that could be made. It can calculate cost benefits, savings and possible ROI, all before any changes have been implemented. Digital Twins are also great in helping organisations plan their risk mitigation activities, allowing them to model and test different scenarios in a digital environment before rolling out to the real world, vastly improving organisational stability and profitability.
  • Identification Of Potential Bottlenecks: As digital twins provide a perpetual, end-to-end- view of the entire supply chain, it becomes incredibly easy to spot potential or existing bottlenecks in the process. That early identification allows for quick and efficient solutions to be implemented with the minimum of human interaction.
  • Accurate Forecasting Of Transportation And Warehousing Facilities: Supply and demand can be a fickle mistress, often affecting a supply chain’s physical locations (such as warehouses) and the entire support system before anyone realises what’s happened. However, using historic and real-time data, fluctuations to supply and demand can be modelled, predicted and planned for, without the need for testing unsupported theories in the real world.
  • Inventory Optimisation: No organisation wants to be holding too much excess stock, taking up room and valuable cash flow. The flipside to that however is that no one wants to have to explain to a client that they’re currently out of stock either. Digital Twins can help organisations find where the correct balance is by utilising data from its demand forecasting functions, avoiding ‘stock-outs’ whilst also minimising overall warehouse costs.
  • Optimising Packaging Performance: A lot of the benefits we’ve discussed here focus on the macro, but supply chain digital twins are just as capable of focussing on the micro. As an example, it might highlight issues with a warehouses packing, analysing shapes and materials for a more optimal and more efficient process. As with everything else, changes can be modelled within the digital twin before roll out to ensure their likely succuss ahead of time.

 

How To Build A Supply Chain Digital Twin

*Shameless plug time – if you want a robust and cutting-edge Supply Chain Digital Twin then there’s a contact form at the bottom of this page… go on, you know what to do…

 

However, if you were just looking for more info on how to go about creating one, then the biggest thing to remember is they don’t, and can’t, stand in isolation.

A Supply Chain Digital Twin needs to be able to integrate with all of an organisation’s systems, be able to access, read and understand all its data and unite data flows whilst providing users with a usable macro and micro window on to the inner workings of the supply chain.

Any digital twin of a supply chain needs to be flexible, scalable and most importantly interoperable across multiple locations and divisions, integrating with a wide-ranging set of enterprise software, including:

 

  • Supply Chain Management
  • ERP
  • CRM
  • Business Intelligence
  • Transportation Management
  • Demand forecasting
  • Production planning
  • Inventory management

 

Biggest Roadblock To Creating A Supply Chain Digital Twin

The biggest roadblock in creating an efficient supply chain digital twin will always be bad or low quality data. To create a digital twin, data needs to be pulled in from a variety of sources and it has to be clean, de-duplicated with no ‘holes’ or blank spots.

More blogs & Things

More blogs & Things


James Crossland in NonProfit

AI + Automation: Reducing Donor Churn & Maintaining Sponsor Interest

Churn management is a vital element of any marketing strategy, and the NonProfit sector is no exception. Knowing what to track and having a joined up view of all your donations data is vital for getting this right, and also opens the door to building innovative data-driven campaigns.   At our recent DataScience and Transformation in Charities […]


James Crossland in NonProfit

Dynamics 365 In NonProfit’s

Charities have unique funding concerns, and an obligation to spend as much as possible on their chosen cause. However, an investment in technology can offer ROI in the form of more than just improved fundraising. Dynamics 365 can help rework complex business processes, ensure compliance with stringent safeguarding and financial regulations, as well as consolidate […]


James Crossland in Tech

8 Ways Your Business Can Increase Turnover With Big Data

Understand how Big Data and Data Science can transform your business…   Big Data is the phrase that’s used to categorise any data that’s too large, complex, cumbersome or complicated to be managed and processed by conventional technology. To put that into a relatable context; being able to recommend your customers content, products or offers based […]


James Crossland in NonProfit

How To Reduce Donor Churn In NonProfits

Reducing Donor Churn doesn’t have to be a big task but does need to be a fundamental part of a NonProfit’s day to day processes   What Is Donor Churn? Donor Churn is the likelihood of an individual stopping their donations to a charitable cause for a variety of different reasons resulting in the non-profit organisation […]


James Crossland in Tech

Agile: Cutting Costs, Improving Quality & Accessing Talent

After using Agile to develop software products for several years, we thought we’d share the challenges we encountered at the start, what we did to change and the results we saw (which were ultimately uplifts in quality and efficiency)…   My development team has been using Agile to develop software product since 2007. Personally, I’ve seen many […]


James Crossland in Tech

UI VS UX

What’s the difference between UI and UX?   Simply put UI (or User Interface) are the pages, screens, buttons, icons and any other visual aspects of a website or App that let you interact with it… or to expand on that into the non-virtual world… UI is how you experience using something – For instance in opening a fridge, […]


Send us a Message






    Call cloudThing
    0121 393 4700
    DEVELOP • DYNAMICS • DEVOPS • DATA
    By pressing send you agree to our Terms & Conditions