Google launches ‘digital twin’ tool for logistics and manufacturing

Google has launched a new ‘digital twin’ solution for companies in logistics, shipping, and manufacturing. …

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Google today announced Supply Chain Twin, a new Google Cloud solution that lets companies build a digital twin — a representation of their physical supply chain — by organizing data to get a more complete view of suppliers, inventories, and events like weather. Arriving alongside Supply Chain Twin is the Supply Chain Pulse module, which can be used with Supply Chain Twin to provide dashboards, analytics, alerts, and collaboration in Google Workspace.

The majority of companies don’t have visibility of their supply chains, resulting in “stock outs” at retailers and aging inventory at manufacturers. In 2020, out-of-stock items alone cost an estimated $1.14 trillion. The past year and a half of supply chain disruptions has further shown the need for insights into operations to dynamically adjust fleet routes and inventory levels.

With Supply Chain Twin, companies can bring together data from multiple sources by enabling views of the datasets to be shared with suppliers and partners. The solution supports enterprise business systems that contain an organization’s locations, products, orders, and inventory operations data as well as data from suppliers and partners such as stock and inventory levels and material transportation status. Supply Chain Twin also draws from public sources of contextual data such as weather, risk, and sustainability.

“Digital twin” approaches to simulation have gained currency in other domains. For instance, London-based SenSat helps clients in construction, mining, energy, and other industries create models of locations for projects they’re working on. GE offers technology that allows companies to model digital twins of actual machines and closely track performance. And Microsoft provides Azure Digital Twins and Project Bonsai, which model the relationships and interactions between people, places, and devices in simulated environments.

“Siloed and incomplete data is limiting the visibility companies have into their supply chains,” Hans Thalbauer, managing director of supply chain and logistics at Google Cloud, said in a statement. “The Supply Chain Twin enables customers to gain deeper insights into their operations, helping them optimize supply chain functions from sourcing and planning to distribution and logistics.”

Supply Chain Pulse

Supply Chain Pulse, which was also launched today, offers real-time visibility, event management, and AI-driven optimization and simulation. Leveraging it, teams can drill down into operational metrics with performance dashboards that make it easier to view supply chain status. In addition, they can set alerts that trigger when metrics reach user-defined thresholds and build workflows that allow users to collaborate to resolve issues. Supply Chain Pulse’s AI-driven algorithm recommendations suggest responses to events, flag more complex issues, and simulate the impact of hypothetical situations.

In the coming weeks, Google Cloud customers will be able tap data, app, and system integration partners including Climate Engine, Craft, Crux, Project44, SAP, Accenture, Deloitte, Pluto7, and TCS to integrate Supply Chain Pulse and Supply Chain Twin with their existing setups. Renault is among the companies that’s deployed Supply Chain Twin to get a view of inventory, suppliers, and more.

Supply Chain Twin and Supply Chain Twin follow the rollout of Google’s Visual Inspection AI, another industrial solution that taps AI to spot defects in manufactured goods. Logistics, manufacturing, retail, and consumer product goods are undergoing a resurgence as business owners look to modernize their factories and speed up operations. According to a 2020 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, companies in manufacturing expect efficiency gains over the next five years attributable to digital transformations. McKinsey’s research with the World Economic Forum puts the value creation potential of manufacturers implementing “Industry 4.0” — the automation of traditional industrial practices — at $3.7 trillion in 2025.

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