MT Magazine January/February 2024




exist for small shops or contract manufacturers in digital twin technology. Generating models of every part that leaves a shop becomes a second asset. Contractors can sell the digital representation of their parts as a value-added service, helping to improve the larger company’s digital twin. More than that, shops can increase their throughput by using this technology to optimize their spaces just as larger smart factories do. But there are also challenges. That same 2023 McKinsey & Co. report stated: “Players in the automotive – and aerospace and defense – industries appear to be more advanced in their use of digital twins today, while logistics, infrastructure, and energy players are more likely to be developing their first digital-twin concepts.” Furthermore, a 2020 NIST study on five OEM and SME companies in the automotive and heavy vehicles supply chain concluded that “Organizational, information silos and lack of knowledge of the physical world are obstacles for digital-twin development.” It went on: “Many of the case companies are SMEs without their own IT departments. Therefore, to proceed with this digital-twin concept, they would need to learn more about it and understand the resources (including IT resources) required to implement that concept.” Fully fleshed-out digital twins are still a premium technology; this is illustrated through the top five key market players: General Electric, Microsoft, Siemens, Amazon Web Services, and ANSYS, all of which have multibillion-dollar market caps. Invisible Twin Like Bluetooth or high-speed Wi-Fi, this technology aims to be invisible, non-intrusive, and ubiquitous. In advanced manufacturing, we will see more sensor integration into systems that will help data aggregation efforts to build these twins. Take metal 3D printers, for example: In-situ monitoring

The technology is tied to the Industrial Internet of Things, cloud computing, extended reality, and artificial intelligence. In fact, it is only possible thanks to these other tools, as the systems require in-situ sensor data, immense off-site server resources, and the algorithms to transform it all into something useful. And just like these other tools, digital twin technology is still emerging and maturing, with different sectors harvesting its value in bespoke ways. Twinning Is Winning Manufacturing leads the charge for digital twin adoption. The global market size for digital twins in the manufacturing industry was just $590 million in 2020. It is expected to grow to $6.69 billion in 2025. Manufacturing shows the highest jump out of five other industries: automotive, aviation, energy and utilities, health care, and logistics/retail markets, but all show considerable global growth. MarketsandMarkets reported in 2023 that “North America is expected to hold the largest share of the digital twin market throughout 2023-2028.” This is due in part to the region’s “technologically mature ecosystem with robust digital infrastructure, advanced data analytics capabilities, and a skilled workforce.” The increase in digital twins can be attributed to key enablers of automation laying the groundwork. These include better inspection tools, industrial robotics, data storage improvements, and more effective model correlation and simulation software. A July 2023 report from McKinsey & Co. stated that “in advanced industries, almost 75 percent of companies have already adopted digital-twin technologies that have achieved at least medium levels of complexity.”

Opportunities and Barriers Thanks to integrated and scalable data systems, opportunities

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