Gartner: Digital twins can drive down costs

By Janet Brice
AI-driven technology in the form of a digital twin is helping companies reduce costs as they reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown, report Gartner...

The use of AI-driven technology in the form of a digital twin is helping companies worldwide reduce costs as they start to re-open after the COVID-19 lockdown, according to a report from Gartner.

The paper looks at how digital twins are being used in rail transport, the oil and gas industry, healthcare and supply chain industries to drive down costs following the global pandemic.

But what is a digital twin? This is a virtual digital double of a physical object, system or process which helps companies to focus their human experts’ time on more valuable areas. 

“Internet of Things (IoT) implementations involving digital twins are proving to be helpful in reducing costs. Companies have been using these innovations to improve their situation awareness and automate their business responses to changing conditions,” comment Gartner.

Outlined in the report, How Can We Use IoT and Digital Twins to Reduce Costs After the COVID-19 Lockdown? Gartner identify four ways in which this technology can be used across different industries:

  • Switch from traditional to condition-based maintenance in the transportation rail industry 
  • Use predictive maintenance to anticipate high-impact disruptions in the oil and gas industry
  • Monitor patients in real-time to increase comfort and avoid life-threatening conditions in healthcare
  • Track and monitor high-value, perishable goods to reduce loss and damage in supply chains

“Companies can initially use digital twins to save money simply by improving situational awareness. For example, digital twins can help companies to recognise equipment failures before they stall production, allowing repairs to be made early or at less cost. Companies can then save even more money when they further automate their business response to such changing conditions,” says the report.

Oil and Gas

“Because of their large portfolios of high-value assets, companies in the oil and gas industry have been relatively aggressive in adopting digital twins,” said Gartner.

A common trend for companies is to use digital twins for modelling and analysis of operations such as oil rigs, pipelines and processing facilities. 

Gartner identified one case study in which an oil and gas company used predictive maintenance analytics on historical data and detected the imminent failure of a major component of their offshore oil platform. This gave them enough time to carry out preventive maintenance and avoided a week of unplanned downtime and lost production costs.

“By itself, this action produced payback on their digital twin investment in less than a year,” Gartner.


According to the report, it is well-known that digital twins have been used on high value rolling stock, such as locomotives, to improve fuel efficiency and optimise maintenance. 

“A rail transportation provider reported savings of about 10% when they switched from traditional to condition-based preventive maintenance of rolling stock maintenance,” commented Gartner.

However, cost savings have now been identified in the report on passenger cars particularly on preventative maintenance of passenger doors.


“We have not yet seen aggressive adoption of digital twins across the healthcare industry, but early examples of adoption are promising and set a good precedent for diverse applications.”

One example of digital-twin analytics of real-time patient telemetry and the patients’ medical records are being used to monitor patients and produce ‘risk scores’ for potentially threatening ‘code blue’ conditions.

Supply chains

Supply chains are an area where enterprises are proliferating their investments in IoT and telemetry.

“Implementing innovations such as digital twins within the supply chain can help companies to achieve improved business outcomes,” said Gartner.

“One fleet management organisation reported that the use of a digital twin and analytics enabled them to negotiate a 25% discount on their insurance costs,” highlights the report.

“A blood and plasma supply chain company was able to reduce its compliance-related discards by more than 90% for the cities in which they had deployed the solution. The same enterprise also used the digital twin data of the pallets to renegotiate its insurance fee structure as the risk model had changed now that they had real time,” comment Gartner.

“Application leaders increasingly use IoT and digital twins to improve situational awareness and make better business decisions. These technologies can help to reduce costs.”

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