Digital Twins and their Impact: Part I – Retail Industry
Category: #blogs  By Saipriya Iyer  Date: 2019-07-19
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Digital Twins and their Impact: Part I – Retail Industry

Acting as the proverbial link between the physical and digital realms, the concept of digital twin has come into itself, within a shorter span than predicted earlier. Harnessing the power of real-time data, the digital twin technology helps to identify the significance of logic and reasoning to enable a better decision making process. The advent of highly advanced technologies like virtual and augmented reality and edge computing notwithstanding, digital twins have come to be identified as the next big rage in the technology cosmos.

In laymen terms, the digital twin technology essentially revolves around the notion of generating a ‘digital replica’ or a virtual representation (a twin basically) of a physical asset – right from automotive and jet engines to infrastructural structures like tunnels and bridges. These physical assets, to begin with, are incorporated with smart components deployed with sensors that are basically used to gather data about the functionality and real-time status of the physical product.

The components then find their way to a cloud-based system that processes the details monitored by the sensors, post which they are meticulously analyzed by organizations to obtain a thorough digital footprint of their product development life cycles. As valuable insights are unveiled with the help of digital twin technology in the virtual representation, companies are able to evaluate and predict problematic issues in the product development process, provide earnings, prevent downtime, and perhaps subsequently reduce unnecessary costs in the physical world.

Given the incredible benefits of digital twins, it comes as no surprise that the proliferation of this technology is increasing tremendously. While the manufacturing sector is an obvious consumer of the industry, the retail sector in tandem with other industrial domains have emerged as major beneficiaries of this technology as well.

The digital twin technology is considered to be the next transformative player of Industry 4.0, capable of delivering a seamless and robust information management solution. As smart manufacturing beckons the globe and industrial IoT takes on renewed prominence, digital twin market size is anticipated to exceed USD 20 billion by 2025 in terms of remuneration, cites Global Market Insights, Inc.

Digital replica technology to disrupt the retail industry

The impact of harnessing the virtual representation platform in the consumer retail sector has been humongous. As the retail industry shifts its base from the conventional podium to IoT, the demand for digital twins has been on a rise, given their deployment to track products in the supply chain. Enabling digital twin information to be shared among organizations and prominent stakeholders will help businesses trace products and their related details as and when they are shipped or consumed.

The digital representation technology, in essence, will help companies decipher the recalled product batches, products added in the chain, product location, packaging details, discounts used, and more through the entire product life-cycle. Enabling convenient access to this information will allow for a granular evaluation of data which would eventually enhance consumer experience, retail applications, and operational efficiency.

Numerous companies spanning the logistics and supply chain sectors have already begun to take note of the advantages brought in by the digital twin technology. In accordance, businesses are attempting to further harness visual representation for better managing their process models and tap smart manufacturing and logistics operations. Contract logistics solution provider DHL Supply Chain recently joined hands with Tetra Pack recently to implement an integrated supply chain solution for the latter’s Singapore warehouse. Reportedly, this DHL’s first smart warehouse in APAC that deploys digital twin technology to better manage physical assets.

Exploring New Avenues

The implementation of digital twins is also expected to majorly resolve the logistics-related issues for retailers and distributors. Often, retaining items past their expiry dates, goods that are not aesthetically pleasing for consumers, unsold items after sales, overproduction, and stock management errors lead to retailers ending up with unused food. In this context, digital twins are likely to be a great help – storing expiry dates electronically on a digital twin will help retailers access information about products through NFC readers, RFID readers, and smartphones, that will not only read and process the data but also generate periodic alerts ahead of time.

Retailers will then be able to have a vivid archetype of their inventories and schedule actions to redistribute food. In a world characterized by ever-rising population and subsequent food requirement, digital replica software may be the key to resolving food shortage and wastage woes.

An ideal exponent of a perception enabling a seamless physical-virtual model fusion, digital twins are likely to remain one of the top technology trends even in the years ahead. As businesses continue to leverage the incredible benefits of the digital twin paradigm, including reduction of operational and maintenance costs, enhancement of the manufacturing process, improvement in operational efficiency, and more, the concept is likely to become an indispensable part of the global digital transformation journey.

Robust advancements in sensor technology and data science are also likely to further empower this groundbreaking confluence of physical and virtual representations, giving rise to the evolution of more state-of-the-art digital twins within the next decade or so.

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About Author

Saipriya Iyer    

Saipriya Iyer

A content developer by choice, Saipriya Iyer holds a rich experience portfolio of more than five years in the content creation domain. Equipped with substantial expertise across the business, technology, and finance domains, Saipriya currently pens down insightful art...

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