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Introduction

As Industry 4.0 continues to evolve, demand for digital twins is accelerating at a scorching pace at an incredible rate. Advancements in AI, IoT, and Cloud technologies further improve the digital twin’s capabilities. Their impacts are being felt across industries.

A report from Fortune Business Insights on the growth of digital twins says that the market for digital twins will cross over $136 billion by the end of 2030 from x Bn in ?.

While some Industrial players and enterprises have already witnessed substantial ROI on their digital twin initiatives, others are following suit. Organizations across sectors are excited about the advent of the digital twin technology, its use cases, and how it can be leveraged. In this blog, we’ll explore some critical digital twin trends in 2024:

Increasing Industry Adoption

A welcome change is being seen in the boardrooms regarding adopting digital twins. Companies don’t just want to explore it. They are moving towards concrete adoption. Budgets are being approved faster. This marks a critical shift in the mindset as industries now recognize the tangible benefits. This top-down push has led to increased adoption and sustained engagement.

A report by McKinsey says that 75% of enterprises have already adopted digital twins, and by 2027, the global market value will cross $73.5 billion.

The shift is happening as product development leaders realize DT’s value in business in reducing time-to-market, minimizing operational/maintenance costs, improving reliability, and contributing to sustainability.

Technology fusion will further increase

The concept of digital twins has moved beyond faceless data twins. Utilizing 3D modeling, AR/VR signals a strong desire to make the experience even more relatable, facilitating better decision-making. Global companies like Siemens, NVIDIA, and GE leverage digital twins and AR/VR to build next-gen products.

Using AI and AR/VR in DT enables them to create virtual simulations of products and manufacturing processes at an enterprise scale. The fusion of technologies will increase further, eventually paving the way for the creation of an industrial metaverse.

AI adoption will reach the next level

AI is changing every technology, and DT is no exception. The synergy of DT and AI has opened unlimited possibilities. AI-powered systems and machine learning can predict potential asset downtime, simulate behavior under different conditions, assist in training, and much more.

According to a report, top auto manufacturers like BMW and GM already use DT and AI to simulate crash tests, optimize aerodynamic designs, and more. The trend will further accelerate as more automotive manufacturers leverage DT and AI’s twin advantages.

Moving Beyond the Realms of manufacturing

The ability of digital twins to simulate and tweak factory environments has made it very popular in the manufacturing sector. The combination of IoT, AI, edge computing, and automation has given birth to Industry 4.0. However, the appeal of digital twins has started to move beyond manufacturing. Various use cases have emerged in energy, healthcare, retail, hospitality, and urban management.

For example, GE is using digital twins in the energy sector to build a cloud-based model of a wind farm.

Digital twin concepts are gaining acceptance in healthcare. A good example is to create a ‘digital patient’ which can be used for surgery training and practice. The goal is to achieve better patient care and recovery.

Businesses can leverage the DT advantage in the retail sector to evaluate their supply-chain performance and efficiency. Simulated models give an excellent idea of a supply chain performance that includes warehouse assets, material flows, inventory position, and people. Leveraging the IoT data from shelves, French supermarket chain Intermarché built a digital replica of a brick-and-mortar store.

The rise of cognitive digital twins

Ahmed El Adl, who first coined the term “Cognitive Digital Twin,” believes that generative AI integration and support of digital threads with existing digital twins concepts can give birth to cognitive digital twins. A CNBC news report has explained how Rolls Royce leverages digital twins by creating a virtual replica of jet engines.

Generative AI can enhance the concept by providing real-time data for optimization and further analysis. This can bridge the gaps in design, build, and implementation. Additionally, using generative AI can improve the data quality. This can be particularly helpful where accurate data is scarce.

Generative AI models can be trained on historical data and fault patterns to predict potential equipment failures.

AR/VR will gain more prominence

Implementing AR/VR into digital twins can take the digital twin concept to the next level, making it useful for organizations and businesses.

Augmented reality can connect the dots between digital and physical assets, making it easy to understand and visualize. This can empower decision-makers to make more profound, nuanced, and situational assessments of the product’s viability. Over a period, digital twins will fuse with the metaverse.

A report by Accenture says that digital twins can unlock US$1.3 trillion, resulting in a 7.5 Gt reduction in carbon emissions. Recently, Lockheed Martin and NVIDIA joined hands to build an AI-driven digital twin of Earth to build a centralized and efficient approach to monitoring global environmental conditions.

Sustainability goals will drive DT adoption

Pursuing sustainability goals is a tailwind macro factor for the digital twin market. Enterprises are looking for ways to meet their  ESG goals. Digital twin technology can be a great enabler in this direction by allowing businesses to do more with fewer resources, from design to implementation and maintenance.

Closing thoughts

Digital twins have been in existence for more than a decade, but their adoption has been slow because of limited use cases. However, with the new digital technologies like cloud, AI, AR/VR, generative AI, and increasing capability of sensors, digital twins use cases have exploded. It has given a new way of working and promises to make decision-making easier for product leaders, especially when the stakes are high.

I hope you enjoyed the article. I’d love to hear your thoughts. What new trends do you think will emerge in digital twins by 2024?

Milind Barve
Milind Barve

After successful stint in a corporate role, Milind is back to what he enjoys most – conceptualizing new software solutions to solve business problems. Milind is a postgraduate from IIT, Mumbai, India and in his 24 years of career, has played key roles in building a desktop as well as enterprise solutions right from idealization to launch which are adopted by many Fortune 500 companies. As a Founder member of Pratiti Technologies, he is committed to applying his management learning as well as the passion for building new solutions to realize your innovation with certainty.

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