02 Oct 2023
by Chris Empson

Unleashing the Potential of Digital Twins for Informed Decision-Making

Guest blog by Chris Empson, Account Manager – Defence at CACI Ltd

In a world that's becoming increasingly unpredictable, organisations consistently grapple with the challenge of predicting what lies ahead and devising effective responses. Historical data, once a reliable guide, now struggles to steer decisions amidst constant change. Even when organisations make reasonable assumptions about the future, understanding the precise impact of these changes on various aspects of their business remains a formidable obstacle.

To overcome these hurdles, decision-makers require a new tool in their strategic arsenal—one that seamlessly blends an in-depth understanding of their current setup with realistic projections of how both external and internal changes might influence their operations. Enter the Digital Twin, a concept that leverages predictive models to provide highly relevant and reliable data for shaping the future course of organisations.

The Defence Fuels Prototype

One notable example of the power of Digital Twins is a collaborative effort between MooD Software and the MOD's Defence Fuels Transformation project. Together, they created a Digital Twin focusing on fuel movement within an air station. Their goal was not only to understand the present but, more crucially, to predict the near future and evaluate the implications of significant changes.

The project employed two types of predictive models that learn from historical behaviour. For immediate projections, machine learning models were implemented, utilising a small sample of historical data related to refuelling vehicle requirements based on demand. This approach effectively created an "early warning system."

However, the real value of the Digital Twin emerged in its ability to look further ahead, where decisions carry a higher risk of impacting operational success adversely. The project adapted and integrated an existing Defence Fuels Enterprise simulation model called the Fuel Supply Analysis Model (FSAM). This allowed them to test how the unit would operate under various changes to the configuration of refuelling vehicles.

To make this possible, functions were coded in a regular programming language, simulating the structural model and behaviour patterns derived from the data pipeline. As a result, decision-makers could easily assess the real-world implications of changes to these functions. This innovative approach empowers decision-makers to test alternative solutions using simulation models calibrated against existing data. It accelerates the decision-making process, enhancing confidence by providing likely outcomes before committing to any changes.

What Does This Mean for You?

Digital Twins are remarkably adaptable technologies suitable for a wide range of organisations. They are currently in use across industries such as manufacturing, defence, retail, and healthcare. These twins seamlessly integrate with real-world assets and online systems, making their applications virtually limitless.

Pairing a digital representation of your organisation's operations, processes, and systems with predictive and simulation models significantly reduces decision-making risk. It allows you to foresee the consequences of changes in resource allocation and structural adjustments, enabling data-driven planning. The resulting data has been empirically tested against real-world decisions, making it a reliable guide for the future. Time Magazine's prediction that Digital Twins will "shape the future" of multiple industries is increasingly difficult to dispute.

Enhancing Decision-Making

Digital Twins provide a multifaceted approach to decision-making, offering both immediate insights and long-term planning capabilities. Immediate projections powered by machine learning models create an early warning system. They allow decision-makers to react promptly to changes in demand and resource requirements. This level of responsiveness can be a game-changer in industries where swift adjustments are crucial. Moreover, Digital Twins excel at looking further into the future. By integrating simulation models like the Fuel Supply Analysis Model (FSAM), organisations can test various scenarios and assess their impact on operations. This foresight is invaluable when considering substantial changes, such as altering the configuration of refuelling vehicles. With a Digital Twin in place, you can confidently explore these changes without the fear of unintended consequences.

Applications Across Industries

Digital Twins are not confined to a single industry. Their adaptability and versatility make them suitable for a myriad of sectors. In manufacturing, they can replicate production processes, helping organisations optimise efficiency and reduce downtime. In healthcare, Digital Twins can mimic patient outcomes, aiding in treatment planning and drug development. For defence organisations, as demonstrated by the MOD's Defence Fuels Transformation project, Digital Twins can be instrumental in managing complex logistical challenges. The ability to predict and prepare for changes in fuel movement within an air station is critical to maintaining operational readiness. The insights provided by a Digital Twin empower defence organisations to make informed decisions that impact the safety and effectiveness of their operations.

Planning for Structural Changes

Digital Twins are not just tools for responding to immediate challenges; they are also invaluable for planning structural changes. Whether you're considering expanding your operations, reconfiguring your supply chain, or introducing new technologies, a Digital Twin can provide a virtual testing ground. Imagine you're a retail organisation exploring the feasibility of opening new stores in different locations. With a Digital Twin, you can simulate the impact of these expansions on your existing supply chain, inventory management, and customer demand. This enables you to identify potential bottlenecks and optimise your strategy before investing resources in physical expansion.

A Bright Future for Digital Twins

The potential of Digital Twins is vast and ever-expanding. Time Magazine's prediction that they will "shape the future" of multiple industries is indeed prescient. As technology continues to evolve and organisations face increasingly complex challenges, Digital Twins will play a central role in informed decision-making.

In an era marked by uncertainty and rapid change, Digital Twins emerge as a transformative force, equipping organisations with the foresight and confidence needed to navigate the unpredictable future successfully. If you're eager to explore what Digital Twins can do for your organisation, consider reading the white paper 'Defence Fuels – Digital Twin.' In this resource, you'll discover how Digital Twins can drive improvements worth millions of pounds.

To delve deeper into MooD and how it can serve as your organisation's digital operating model, visit the product page. With Digital Twins at your disposal, you'll be well-equipped to meet the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow head-on.

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Chris Empson

Chris Empson

Account Manager – Defence, CACI Ltd

Christopher Empson | LinkedIn