The concept and rise of digital twins can create value in logistics. The technology, which involves using digital models to better understand and manage physical assets is already well established in some industries and has the potential to significantly change logistics operations.
Digital Twin in Logistics
Creating digital twins of shipping containers can provide logistics companies new visibility into their asset operations. Digital twin enabled containers continuously record its location, monitor thefts in the form of closing or opening of the container, abnormal deviations in vibrations, slope, position, and sound. Employing 3D photographic technologies helps to identify container conditions or damages such as cracks and dents. As the following step, these data could be combined with historical data on the container’s movement to create a Digital twin that supports the decisions about when this container should be used, repaired, or retired. In the case of cold storage containers, environmental monitoring sensors capture parameters such as temperature, humidity, air pollution that should be kept optimal for goods requiring standard climatic conditions. Furthermore monitoring your whole container fleet using digital twin potentially helps operations managers to make data-driven decisions about fleet sizing and empty repositioning.
There is a whole lot of equipment and machines employed for each process in the logistics supply chain. It is important that the machine’s applicability and capacity to work have to be checked before it is introduced to a work environment. In case of a malfunction or break of equipment, huge losses can incur in the form of cost and time. Even Though certain companies employ testing and pre-installation trials, it takes a lot of effort and cost in this activity. This can be completely overcome using digital twins by capturing equipment utilization and performance data. Analyzing the data through virtual platforms helps to recognize the potential problems that could occur in machine functioning. Also, decisions based on end-of-life equipment can be easily traced and new ones can be deployed.
Real-Time monitoring of the transportation process allows for defects to be detected earlier and asset downtime to be significantly reduced. Digital replica of a transport unit helps to easily monitor vehicles and identify potential defects without manual inspection. Driver behavior can be analyzed and rated based on various parameters such as overspeeding, sharp acceleration or stopping, off-road driving, driving on a cold or overheated engine, sharp & dangerous maneuvers. Weight monitoring twin allows logistics companies to optimize the transport load. It determines how much weight can be carried in trucks/carriers without posing risks and underperformance. Moreover, the technology is able to simulate the operation of transport assets in various scenarios and environmental conditions.
Monitoring fuel efficiencies of trucks is much important for logistics companies as fuel is a major expense factor within the balance sheets. Moreover, companies specialized in fuel transportation across regions should closely monitor incidents affecting fuel carrying tanks. Digital twin in logistics enabled fuel tracking systems to track fuel theft and contamination, fuel leakage and spills, tank temperature monitoring, fuel reconciliation errors, and alert management in case of abnormalities. Tire thefts during logistics transportation is another major concern faced. Digital twin enabled sensors to alert the concerned whenever there is an attempt to replace the tires and thus eliminate loss of assets and money.
Packaging within logistics is important to ensure the safety of goods moving through the supply chain. Digital twin helps logistic companies to invent suitable cost-effective and eco-friendly packaging materials according to goods type. By using digital twins of the materials, companies can model each material’s behaviour underweight capacities, different temperatures, vibrations, and shock loads experienced in transit. Monitoring the thermal insulation and shock-absorbing characteristics of the packaging, companies can experiment with different conditions on the digital model that enable shippers to gain new insights into the conditions of each shipment and thus optimize them.