Time for Good Voodoo Dolls! Time for Digital Twins!

Why waste resources, material, experts, downtime and effort in actual machines, processes or systems? Why not use some digital Juju?

New Update

Digital twins

Why waste resources, material, experts, downtime and effort in actual machines, processes or systems? Why not use some digital Juju?


It’s a world where people don’t think it stupid to mummify kings. It’s a world where a child bawls with pain when someone kicks his pup. It’s a world where we all would run to first save a seemingly-silly object (like a Teddy or a favourite book or a picture-frame or a pair of sneakers) before a wallet or a property-papers when a fire-alarm goes off. It’s a world where men still talk to, and pet, their cars. And now, it’s also a world where the essence of machines and processes can be replicated in digital twins.

Not exactly for the same reason. But by the same logic. One’s life is hinged closely to the other.

Enter the world of digital clones. Shall we take you a bit closer?


Not Witchcraft but Wizardry

In an era where creating products or controlling processes is, often, laden with costs, complexity and chaos – it is a much-needed marvel to have a virtual counterpart handy – one that works well. With this digital replica – a company can design as well as monitor, repair, correct and improve the product or process without tweaking anything physically. That saves money. And also spares everyone the irreversibility of mistakes.

What a doozy! Digital twins provide that extraordinary comfort. They can simulate many characteristics of their physical counterparts. And since these models process, and react to, various stimuli (as per the data representing the external environment) – making any change is both safe and timely. With the approximation of a real object that they bring in- they go way beyond erstwhile simulation techniques and whiteboards. Companies not only have a chance to exponentially improve productivity and Time-to-Market windows but also the powerful button to completely augment operational processes and avoid losses.


Not surprisingly, one big area for use of Digital Twins is product development. As McKinsey estimates, over the next five years, about $30 trillion in corporate revenues may depend upon products that have not yet reached the market. How do you make these products compelling! By staggering performance improvements and features that will make jaws drop and also very happy. But all that would require the integration of complex and novel technologies. Also, the growing spotlight on personalisation and sustainability completely changes the way companies look at material and component selection, repairability, and end-of-life considerations. So keeping R&D costs low while innovating with mind-blowing products would be a tough juggling act without the help of Digital Twins.


Almost every manufacturing customer in the enterprise space is interested in adopting digital manufacturing, Industrial IoT (IIoT), and digital twin use-cases. - P K Gupta, Dell Technologies


Digital Twins would help to nail this tough balancing dance and accelerate design and engineering cycles – and at the same time give more-than-ever choices on design as well as more prototypes. This gets even more helpful when a company is creating products that are manufactured in small volumes or as big-ticket items or exclusive ones. In fact, 75 percent of product development executives reported further digitisation as a key priority for them- as seen in a Research and Markets Forecast for 2027. Specially in advanced industries, where almost 75 percent of companies had been observed to have already adopted digital-twin technologies that have achieved at least medium levels of complexity. The use of Digital Twins is more advanced in verticals like automotive, aerospace, defense, logistics, infrastructure, and energy – for understandable reasons.

That explains the growth lined up ahead for this technology wonder.

Not so tiny an Ushabti


The Digital Twin market was somewhere at $9.9 billion in 2023 and can rise to about $125 billion by 2032 -as per Global Market Insights. As per Grand View Research, the global digital twin market size was around $16 billion in 2023 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.7 per cent from 2024 to 2030. In the estimates of Fortune Business Insights, this space was at roughly at $17 billion in 2024 and can surge to some $259 billion by 2032.

PK Gupta, APJ Presales Lead & Global CTO, Global Alliances Presales, Dell Technologies explains that Digital twins are transforming industries by creating virtual replicas for optimisation. From factories to hospitals and cities, these digital shadows are driving innovation and efficiency. Almost every manufacturing customer in the enterprise space is interested in adopting digital manufacturing, Industrial IoT (IIoT), and digital twin use-cases.”

The potential for Digital Twins in India is vast, driven by complex supply chains and deep technology entrenchment across the country, opines Ashwin Kumar, Partner - Solutioning and Growth at MathCo.


And what kind of enterprises are tapping these twins?

“Applications for Digital Twins span industries but Supply Chain, Last mile delivery, Manufacturing, and Product Design have significant opportunities, for adoption. Industries like manufacturing, where precision and efficiency are paramount, embrace Digital Twins to optimize production processes and enhance product quality. In healthcare, Digital Twins facilitate personalised treatment plans and predictive modeling for improved patient outcomes. Likewise, in retail and FMCG, Digital Twins optimise inventory management, streamline logistics, and enhance customer experiences. The versatility of Digital Twins ensures their relevance and applicability across the entirety of India’s economic landscape.” Dissects Kumar.

Gupta also points out which areas are leaning heavily towards this concept. “The healthcare industry has shown significant interest in utilising digital twins for medical research purposes, particularly in areas like COVID-19 and cancer studies. Digital twins are gaining traction in urban planning within digital cities, where they are applied for managing construction sites, optimising smart buildings, monitoring traffic, mitigating noise pollution, and simulating flood scenarios.


Abracadabra At Work

Let’s enter the premises of a huge energy company in the USA. When you are serving more than five million customer accounts or an estimated 10 million+ people across the state, operating 11 fossil fuel power generation plants- you have to take care of critical assets being Gas Turbines, Generators and Steam Turbines. Before it thought of Digital Twins, the operations and maintenance process of each plant was being carried out locally. And then it decided that there can be a strong way to increase reliability of power and reduce operational costs by centralisation. They wanted to redefine fleet monitoring and centralisation of operations and maintenance activities. As shared by Happiest Minds, this company made a shift to a better and digital way of doing many things with the P&ID Digital Twin. The initiative it took care of also entailed providing deep-dive details on Fossil center of work excellence (FCWE) Daily and Outage processes. It also began the use of AI/ML models for optimising work orders and improve data quality for validation, prioritisation and scheduling FCWE Daily and outage work.


Gupta also gives a peek into some work happening in this space. “We have successfully deployed several projects in the automotive and healthcare sectors. “These projects aim to optimise production processes and solve factory issues virtually by offering extensive 3D simulations for design and process improvement. For instance, in the automotive sector, we’ve observed a significant reduction in car production time (from 48 months to 12 months) along with a 50 per cent cost reduction. Moreover, it has significantly decreased safety certification timelines.”

Then there is the case of a US-based retailer that adopted a digital process twin to tackle critical challenges that stemmed after the establishment of a new e-commerce fulfillment wing at their primary US-based center. The new facility provided additional capacity but the increased volume exposed inefficiencies in the sequence of the products that were picked, and grouped into respective orders. This led to decreased fulfillment SLAs in terms of orders serviced – as shared by Mathco.

MathCo built and implemented a digital twin to replicate the picking and grouping process, offering three distinct features: real-time scheduling, simulations, and optimisations. Simulation of the process allowed analysing the critical SKUs and their demand, sizes, frequency, etc. to iterate over multiple sequences. Process changes in terms of sequences were simulated to analyse the potential impact and reconciled with historical performances, explains Kumar. “With optimisation of the layer based on the constraints; SLAs were performed to recommend the best-fit sequence to maximise the number of orders fulfilled. The recommendations were tracked in real-time in terms of throughput, accuracy, and efficiency of pickings.”

As he shares further, the initial pilot phase was rolled out in 4 months followed by a period of testing and fine-tuning over 3 months. Post enhancements, the system was completely rolled out in 3 months. This initiative enabled the center to increase the number of orders fulfilled by 20 per cent over the next six months leading to increased customer satisfaction and brand value enhancement. The solution was modularised to scale it across multiple facilities in a manner - achieving 50 per cent efficiencies in time and investment.

As further illustrated by Manoj Karanth, Vice President, iNXT, LTIMindtree, Industrial Digital Transformation has been a key theme across the industry. At the same time, there has been a lot of uncertainty across supply chains, variation in demand to name a few. Getting a real time view of the Business and empowering teams to take decisions has emerged as a real need. Digital Twin has emerged as a lever to enable this visibility.

LTIMindtree cites the example of a Mid-Stream Oil Major in the US. They have 6000 miles of pipelines with 40-50 processing plants and is one of the largest producers of natural gas liquids. They source the gas from the producers, treat and clean to make it available to actual consumers. They needed a view of the business in real time so that people could take informed decisions to improve productivity and realise commercial value.


This required a complete process digital twin which gathered data in real time from multiple sources, including IIoT sensors, commercial contracts, market prices and KPIs to comprise a single source of truth. Real-time value chain optimisation uses live process-simulations to maximise productivity. The single digital twin hub allows operators, engineers and business analysts to coordinate decisions, operate plants remotely and receive performance alerts.


Industries like manufacturing, where precision and efficiency are paramount, embrace Digital Twins to optimise production processes and enhance product quality. - Ashwin Kumar, Partner - Solutioning and Growth, MathCo

Just within the first year this initiative realised $50M in net income and 13M margin improvement with a four per cent increase in commitment accuracy. It matched production to demand in real time, thus, bolstering supply chain resiliency.

When the Poppet Pops

Digital Twins are not without their share of painful needles though.

A lot of challenges exist before their true magic can be tapped. Specially if a company already has a monkey sitting on its shoulder in the form of heavy legacy systems.

Kumar outlines that successful implementation of digital twins faces challenges in terms of Technology and Process Design. “Digital twins require in-depth process understanding and system design to translate real-world parameters into simulations. They also necessitate a sophisticated IT infrastructure capable of facilitating seamless connectivity and communication. Legacy systems, prevalent in many organizations, pose a hurdle in terms of data collection and integration with modern digital twin technologies. Ensuring compatibility between existing infrastructure and digital twin solutions becomes imperative to unlock their full potential.”

Kumar also points out the torn parts of security here. “Additional cyber security oversight would be required to ensure protection of sensitive business process parameters and design. Overcoming these challenges requires concerted efforts and strategic investments in upgrading IT infrastructure and implementing robust cybersecurity protocols to enable the widespread adoption of digital twins in India.”

Get Your Bonsai

The future of Digital Twins is great with more and more industries and governments adopting to it by bring Physical and Digital (Phygital) worlds together. “A thriving ecosystem of homegrown Indian Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and innovative startups are fueling advancements in this domain. The adoption of IIoT and digital twins in India is experiencing a significant momentum,” Gupta reckons. “This momentum is further supported by the recent establishment of an India branch by the ‘Digital Twin Consortium’, a global organisation promoting industry standards and education. The ‘Sangam initiative’ by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) fosters collaboration between public entities, infrastructure planners, tech giants, startups, and academia. This collaborative approach positions India to become a major player in developing and deploying next-generation IIoT and digital twin solutions.”

Digital Twins are full of many good omens. However, they should be deployed and used with comprehension, clarity, caution and care. It is a good time to consider their advantages as well as pragmatic hurdles with specific context to Indian conditions, limitations and possibilities. And also of the vertical or industry one operates in.

As John Naka advises right- “The object is not to make the tree look like a Bonsai but to make the Bonsai look like a tree.”

Next time there is a fire alarm, you may want to save your Bonsai/digital twin first and that machine in the glass house later. And not only because you can actually run with it.

By Pratima H