The term digital twin isn’t new in the supply chain space. But until now, it’s primarily been used to describe a digital representation or simulation for complex systems and rapid prototyping.
Creating digital twins for your products is a newer application – and an important one. Digital twins can help you produce less waste, shorten time to market and keep up with customers by gathering constant insights about how they interact with your product.
The benefits don’t stop there, which is why product digitization is the next logical step to completing the digital transformation many companies are working toward.
This second article in our product digitization series explains what digital twins are and how they can unlock nuanced product insights while triggering automations that boost efficiencies and improve experiences.
What are digital twins?
Digital twins are intelligent snippets of software that know everything about the product they’re attached to. Every product entered into the Digimarc Illuminate platform, a cloud-based platform for digitizing products and aggregating their interactions, automatically generates a corresponding digital twin. Those digital twins can then use the information you assign them – identification number, URL with more information about the product, or other attributes from an extensible database – to facilitate more interactions and efficient outcomes throughout the products’ lifecycle.
This digital representation allows your product to communicate with and participate in the digital world. You can add a watermark, QR code or other digital tag to a physical product so that any device that encounters it can scan the tag and connect to the digital twin in the cloud.
Even better, digital twins can understand context. You can create rules based on geolocation so a customer scanning the code in a store gets product information and a coupon, whereas a buyer scanning the same product at home gets installation and usage instructions. Because they’re pieces of software, you can feed digital twins any set of logic-based rules you need them to execute.
“There’s almost no limit to what digitized products can do, because the digital twins are incredibly smart and enable automations triggered from real-time product data,” says Ken Sickles, Chief Product Officer at Digimarc.
What can you do with digital twins right now?
Digitizing your products finally gives your organization a compelling reason to centralize all its product data.
Instead of your product data living in different silos, digital twins allow that information to follow your product throughout the supply chain. Maybe you start digitizing because you want to give your customers easy access to nutritional information, so you pull that data from one area of your organization. Next, you want to improve the recyclability of your packaging, so you pull information from manufacturing and attach it to the digital twins. And while these two actions may accomplish their intended singular goals, aggregating and overlaying the data from those two sources may lead to additional insights you wouldn’t have otherwise had.
These moves come with the powerful benefit of allowing brands to be very surgical with important decisions. For example, imagine recalling only thousands of batch or lot units of a food product from a specific field, as opposed to recalling millions of individual units of that product grown across a larger farm or broader region. The potential for cost savings is tremendous.
Digitization can also help your products get through customs faster. Digital twins can contain any necessary certificates, notifications of compliance with regulations and digital watermarks to signal they’re authentic products. They can even trigger invoices upon acceptance of deliveries.
Trigger automations you didn’t know existed with digital twins
Adding your products to your organization’s digital world can seem like a monumental task, but it comes with major benefits. You can create automations you never even thought of by creating digital twins, all based on real-time product data. Whether it’s automating your ordering, invoicing and payment processes or improving efficiency with better tracking of a product’s entire lifecycle, digital twins can take over many of your repetitive tasks.
Because of these benefits they provide throughout the supply chain – from manufacturing through distribution and product security – all the way to recycling, digital twins represent the next big evolution in the supply chain.
Did you miss our first article on defining product digitization? Check it out here.
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Digimarc is a global leader in product digitization, delivering business value across industries through unique identities and cloud-based solutions. A trusted partner in deterring counterfeiting of global currency for more than 20 years, Digimarc uncovers a product's journey to provide intelligence and promote a prosperous, safer and more sustainable world. With Digimarc, you can finally see everything. And when you see everything, you can achieve anything. For more information, visit us at digimarc.com.