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Digital twin technology generates the insights to drive growth post-pandemic

Digital twins bridge the information gap between the physical and virtual worlds, helping businesses quickly identify and execute the innovations needed to thrive

The pandemic and its ensuing uncertainty have wreaked havoc on global businesses. Industries of all kinds are facing immediate and sustained disruptions to their primary operations, supply lines and day-to-day workflows.

Digital transformation is now a business continuity essential, and business executives are accelerating their transformation plans. One survey by the German Association for the Digital Economy, for example, found that 70% of executives in Germany and Austria expect the pandemic to accelerate the pace of digital transformation.

Digital twins – known as virtual twins when data is communicated via a scientifically accurate 3D model – are among the most powerful digital transformation innovations for bridging the information gap between real world operations and remote workforces. By creating powerful 3D simulations that can be used to understand and accurately predict the results of various strategies before they are implemented, multiple stakeholders (both internal and external) can collaborate to understand and overcome challenges. 

This helps to better manage the many disruptions caused by the pandemic. In a landscape where, according to a Gartner study, as many as 41% of employees are expected to continue working remotely at least some of the time post-pandemic, virtual twins are a crucial resource for effectively understanding the physical world by experimenting in the virtual world – a winning strategy for driving future innovation and growth.

The use of virtual twins varies from industry to industry. Some examples of how different industries can harness digital virtual twin technology to drive post-pandemic growth include:

- Governments: Data and digital modelling have played central roles in government responses to the pandemic. Beyond reacting to challenges as they arise, digital twin simulations help towns, cities and countries plan at scale for the future and test possible strategies to identify the best options. 

Dassault Systèmes, for example, worked with the National Foundation of Singapore to create a complete virtual twin representation of the city using the 3DEXPERIENCity® solution. By combining geometric, topological and environmental data with information on everything from climate to traffic patterns, Singapore can run simulations and virtual tests to understand and develop solutions to urban planning challenges.

Creating these virtual models allows researchers and city planners to apply different data sets to scenarios to understand their potential effect. Something that is particularly relevant during times of global disruption. For example, by including data in a city’s virtual twin about the distribution of hospital beds and protective personal equipment (PPE), the virtual twin could have guided emergency responders to transport patients to hospitals with available beds, while helping city officials direct excess supplies to where they were needed most.

- Manufacturing: With IndustryWeek estimating that as many as 40% to 50% of manufacturing workers were unable to perform their functions on-site during the lockdown, virtual twins of a factory enable continuous optimization of manufacturing processes remotely, from better managing production flow to enabling predictive maintenance strategies and conducting workplace safety simulations.

The disruption to global supply chains has also prompted manufacturers to look for ways to make them more resilient, agile and sustainable. Creating a virtual twin of the entire product lifecycle enables businesses up and down the value chain to rethink their systems and collaborate on new approaches, which can be tested virtually to optimize results before they are executed in the real world. 

- Life sciences: The pandemic seriously disrupted the life science industries, with McKinsey estimating that many labs operated at less than 50% of normal capacity, leading to productivity reductions between 25% and 75%. 

This presents a huge hurdle as the industry races to develop and test a vaccine and then manufacture it at the scale needed. The World Health Organization reports that nearly 200 teams worldwide are researching vaccines. As researchers work, manufacturing planners are using digital twin simulations to simulate manufacturing processes, supply chains and logistics so that production can be scaled rapidly when a vaccine is found.

The Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform connects an entire ecosystem on a single cloud-based platform, from which you can leverage the 3DEXPERIENCE virtual twin to bring together the real and virtual worlds. This enables your business to not only better respond to disruptions as they arise, but also collaborate and innovate more effectively with your stakeholders to rethink and reshape your business so it can thrive in the future. 

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