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Digital twin

New paths to sustainability and resource optimization

Increase in product value creation through consistent maintenance and reuse

The 1:1 relationship between the real product and the digital twin enables product-specific monitoring. Based on data from actual use, it is possible to make precise statements about wear and tear and the service life of the product or its components. It is possible to determine the exact individual point in time when a repair or replacement of a component becomes necessary. This conserves resources by extending the service life of the product. If a product is no longer operational, it is possible to extract parts or components in order to reuse them as spare parts in other products. The digital twin provides data on the usage history. This allows an assessment of the extent to which the specific component can be safely reused in another product. Simulation can be used to safeguard "second life" use and, if necessary, confirm it with warranty certificates. If data from the product's supply chain and production is taken into account, the resource consumption or CO2 footprint can be determined, for example, and used as a sales argument.

Reduction of the CO2 footprint through transparent processes along the supply chain

With a digital twin, processes such as the supply chain can also be mapped digitally. From raw materials to suppliers and sub-suppliers to distributors and transport routes, the supply chain is digitally recorded end-to-end. Not to be neglected is the recording and management of packaging materials. With digital twins, packaging materials can be traced transparently. The transparency of the packaging materials means that a high proportion can be recycled, which in turn conserves resources. On the basis of the digital twin, it is not only possible to identify supply bottlenecks at an early stage or to optimize transport costs. It is also possible to design the supply chain according to sustainability aspects. This makes it possible to identify an energy- and emissions-optimized delivery model that reduces a product's CO2 footprint. To ensure tamper-proof recording and management of CO2 data along the supply chain, the digital twin is used in combination with blockchain.  

Optimal use of resources in production through the digital twin

Many companies are facing the challenge of making their production more sustainable. This includes efficient use of resources as well as optimization of emissions. The first step is to create an exact digital representation of physical plants and production lines as a digital twin. This allows the settings of the machines to be realistically simulated and optimized. A major ecological advantage that arises from the use of digital twins is the monitoring or control of production facilities in terms of optimal resource utilization. This will enable, for example, automated reduction of waste or idle time. The next major development stage will be that decisions in the production process are made and implemented independently by a digital twin. In our study, only six percent of respondents share this view.

Summary and conclusion

Our study shows that the digital twin is becoming increasingly important in the sustainability assessment. There are use cases in product, process and production for sustainable resource use. When recording and evaluating data for the sustainability assessment, the focus must be on the task and the objective. Otherwise, there is a risk that the effort required to provide data will exceed the expected benefits. You are wondering whether a sustainability assessment is worthwhile for you and your company? Then we will be happy to assist you.

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