Digital twins on the manufacturing menu – with help from the hyperscalers

NOV 16, 2023

Only one in 10 global manufacturing organisations are not considering the implementation of digital twins, according to new data from IoT Analytics – down from a third in 2020.

The Germany-based analyst, in its Digital Twin Market Report 2023-2027, has forecast that the global digital twin market could grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of approximately 30% in the next four years.

While the company stresses that these figures are not absolute – the use of the words ‘appears to have reduced’ in citing the 9% of companies not looking at digital twins is a sign – there are complementary figures which assess market growth. An analysis of job postings on SimplyHired revealed that postings mentioning ‘digital twin’ has increased by 11%, compared with two years prior.

While the report analyses eight trends which help promote the adoption of digital twins – defined by IoT Analytics specifically as ‘a virtual model replicating the behaviour of an existing or potential real-world asset, system, or multiple systems’ – a couple of interesting ones stand out.

The emergence of digital twin platforms from hyperscale cloud providers, such as AWS IoT TwinMaker and Azure Digital Twins, has helped with the interconnection of data sources. Yet the partnerships forged between OT companies, such as Siemens, and simulation providers, such as Ansys, have helped provide value across all sides. The operational technology firms can now leverage themselves more readily into digital transformation, with associated cloud benefits, while the simulation companies can create more robust, responsive, and accurate systems.

More recently, but very significantly, IoT Analytics noted that digital twins are becoming a potential solution for manufacturers looking to hit their sustainability goals. Optimisation of resources is key, for both reducing carbon emissions and improving supply chain and transportation – and executives are banking on simulation playing a big part.

“Digital solutions provide the visibility, analysis and insight needed to address the challenges inherent in sustainability goals,” an unnamed industrial vendor VP told IoT Analytics in its report. “A digital twin strategy as part of an overall digitalisation plan can be a crucial capability for asset-intensive industries and needs to encompass the entire asset lifecycle, process, and value chain from design and operations through maintenance and strategic planning.”

A clear upside of digital twin software is in the variety of applications, such as the difference between a digital twin used in supply chain management versus one for intelligent infrastructure. This will help fuel growth, but IoT Analytics analyst Mohammad Hasan warned that ‘significant effort’ is still required from industry organisations with regard to standardisation. “Each application demands unique standards that align with its specific requirements and operational contexts,” said Hasan. “The absence of a one-size-fits-all standard for digital twins indicates that the technology is still in the early stages of development.”

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