A digital enabler for real-world change

Our world is changing, quickly. Challenges and opportunities arise with increasing frequency, customers are more demanding, and society’s expectations are higher. These changes, combined with the rapid rate of digital innovation, are forcing significant business transformation across almost every sector – and widescale strategic changes for many organisations. 

This also means that assets, process and systems need to become more agile and adaptable. Approaching these physical environments with a digital mindset can help. The power of digital and data increasingly support organisations to better monitor, control, predict and prescribe the environment they operate in.

In this, digital twins increasingly play a role. Driven by real-time data from the physical world – for example, enterprise resource planning systems, and data from sensors, cameras or IoT connected technology – these digital twins are virtual mirrors of real-world assets, processes or systems. They allow you to gain insight into how something behaves under a variety of simulated conditions, helping to improve decision-making and optimise business processes.

Building digital twins will result in self-learning systems capable of optimising everything from energy consumption to maintenance scheduling – reducing costs while maximising impact and value. With the continuous infinity loop of innovation and learning that digital twins provide across the life cycle, they have the potential to radically transform the way we think and operate as a society – providing the insight and agility to turn reactive decision-making into proactive problem-solving.

Make decisions with absolute clarity

Because a digital twin is driven by real-time data, it can give you an accurate view of conditions and performance now, as well as possible scenarios in the future. This brings a host of potential benefits, across all kinds of industries. 

People flows

Improving how people move around indoor and outdoor environments, to optimise routing and maximise safety.
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Mobility flows

Co-ordinating routing and signals to optimise traffic and transport flow by road, rail, air or water.
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Logistics flows

Streamlining the flow of goods through sites and supply chains for higher throughput and lower costs.
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Water flows

Measuring, predicting and controlling water systems, to optimise quality and cost.
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Energy systems

Optimising how energy is generated, distributed, stored and used – balancing supply and demand.
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Compliance & resilience

Minimising safety and environmental risks, preventing business disruption, and safeguarding staff.
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Comfort & safety

Maintaining a safe and healthy environment for life, work or travel – for happy and productive people.
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Asset life extension 

Using predictive maintenance to help assets last longer – improving value, reliability, and cost.
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How digital twins drive continuous innovation

A digital twin lets you optimise almost anything – a single machine or workflow, a company or plant, even an entire city. It does this by bridging the world as it is now, and the future as it might be.

It creates a highly-accurate, virtual version of the physical world, informed by real-time, real-world data capture. This describes things as they are now, in great detail. You can now predict the future by comparing and testing different scenarios and seeing how the twin responds. No more guesswork, no wasteful trial-and-error, and clarity for all stakeholders.

You can also set the digital twin to show the outcome you’d like to achieve, and prescribe and preview the decisions that are necessary to make it happen. This lets you decide the best course of action in an informed way, by understanding the implications, before making any change in the physical world – via human intervention or machine to machine interventions.

Ultimately, this process has the potential to automate decision-making. But implementing change still takes knowledge and experience of the real world – most notably, the effect on real people. We’ll work alongside you to help incorporate your digital twin into your decision-making process, so the human and digital elements complement each other.

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Three dimensions to digital twins

Build from asset to system level

Today, most digital twins in the market focus on an asset level. But, with the correct interoperability and industry standards, they can potentially be combined into an eco-system of twins up to city, country or supply chain level.

Match sophistication to your organisation

Digital twins can have varying levels of sophistication – from simple models providing real time insight in an asset’s status, right through to advanced predictive and prescriptive twins. These require different levels of technology, like AI and predictive simulation, and also varying levels of human intervention, so they are best matched to the digital maturity of the organisation overall.

Add value throughout the lifecycle

Digital twin simulation regularly adds value in the design process of an asset, process or system. With these design simulation twins, various investment scenarios can be evaluated quickly, to support decision making in the design process. Connecting Capex and Opex phases can create further value. But you can also create a twin from existing assets or systems - using IoT, scanning, or BIM. Twinning can unlock value at any stage of the lifecycle and your journey can start on every point on the infinity loop.

To predict the future, understand the past

To maximise the value digital twins can bring to your organisation, you need to know what variables to measure, what data to collect, and how. That requires in-depth knowledge of real-world assets, systems, and processes – how they interact with their environment, and how they respond to change.

At Royal HaskoningDHV, we’re fortunate to have the best of both: world-leading digital technology, underpinned by more than 140 years of real-world engineering experience – working on everything from engines and bridges to airport terminals and shipyards.

It means we don’t just build digital twins with extreme accuracy; we can also help you to use them in the most relevant, efficient way, and release the most value.

Want to discuss whether your organisation is ready for a digital twin?

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