More than two years of (still ongoing) pandemic have taught the whole humanity a tough lesson, in particular to the industry, corporate and finance worlds: we all have learned that this is a hyper-connected world, and in order to cope with our society’s needs we have to make these connections smoother and smoother, improving our technologies – from hardware to software – and creating new protocols, smarter and easier to access. That’s why, for example, the Digital twin technology is gaining a more and more crucial role in many sectors of the Industrial IoT production: because it’s a tool conceived to fill the gap between digital world and real world, making them able to match up with each other.
What is the Digital Twins technology? Basically, it’s a system that allows to recreate a company’s working environment (or any other kind of environment) on a computer, with all its rules, procedures and variables. This virtual environment can be analyzed in every situation, focusing on its critical points and its margins for development, as well as new perspectives of definition of the workflow. The Digital Twins programs and devices have been crucial during the pandemic, when many companies were forced to match their remote workers with their on-site ones: its support helped the companies to cope with this new work configuration and harmonize the two segments of their workforce.
The specific area of digital technologies that includes the Digital Twins systems is commonly known as IoT, an acronym that stands for Internet of Things. It generally indicates all those technologies managed (partially or totally) via Internet like, for example, a private alarm system connected through the net to a security agency’s control room or operation center. As you may guess, it’s a very broad area, that goes from the private/domestic use to its integration in the industrial production system. The IoT is widely considered among the technologies that will affect our lives the most by the next years.
On the other hand, the fields of application of IoT are multiple, especially when it comes to public administration, public services and the above-mentioned world of industry. Let’s see the main ones, listed below.
- Manufacturing. The majority of industrial manufacturing companies have witnessed their working routines being completely overturned by the Covid-19 containment protocols adopted by the national and local governments from all over the world. This has been an acceleration factor for what concerns the introduction of IoT in the industry world; an event that would have been occurred anyway, in just a little more time. For example, if the Digital Twins technology is able to ease up the workflow split between on-site and remote, other IoT devices can make the machinery maintenance quicker, more responsive and more precise.
- Transport and logistics. In order to optimize a company’s resources, in this sector the IoT applications are used extensively, and all the trends say that they’re going to become an integral part of the production process in just a few years. A transport company can monitor its fleet of vehicles’ efficiency, as well as the load status and the conformity with the delivery times. At the same time, an IoT technology can track in real time the best itinerary for each vector, in order to avoid road congestions, accidents, adverse weather conditions, and any other event that could jeopardize or delay the delivery. This is particularly useful when it comes with extremely perishable products, or loads that need to be carried in temperature-controlled vehicles.
- Healthcare. In many countries (USA, Canada, UK, Germany, China and Japan are at the moment the most assiduous and advanced ones), more and more hospitals are integrating IoT sensors in their supplies and everyday tools like, for example, wheelchairs and stretchers. Moreover, having the chance to track the movements of any asset of a hospital means being always aware of where the facility’s patient is and what he/she is doing. IoT can also be used to monitor the status of medications and medical devices.
- Public and private security. As we’ve mentioned before, ensuring an alarm system with a series of Industrial IoT sensors directly connected with security agencies headquarter represents the ultimate way to protect buildings and even larger environments from any unauthorized intrusion. And this applies to both public and private properties, regardless of their dimension and/or intended use: from a simple apartment to a luxurious mansion, from a big corporation’s head office to a public venue. The extreme flexibility of this technology allows the client to link it to any device, from closed circuit cameras to smartphone or any other personal device, maintaining the highest level of security for what concerns passwords and access codes.
- Retail. The IoT technologies can represent a real revolution for the entire retail sector. They could help – and they’ve actually already started to do it – to update an inventory in real time, as the items put on sale are picked from their aisles (or even replaced there, in case of second thoughts by the client). This would allow the shops’ owners and managers to be constantly aware of which articles are about to go out of stock, and get new supplies in time before they are not anymore available to the customers. The main vantage point, in this case, lies in the customer experience: finding anything they want in a supermarket, regardless of the multiple variables that could occur, is a huge part of it. In addition, though Industrial IoT the customers could be even more involved, being informed in real time – for example through an app on their smartphone – of new promotions and offers.
Moreover, many other applications are currently under study and/or development. Some of them may sound almost science fictional, but they will definitely be part of our everyday life in no more than a couple of decades. Sectors like public transportation (buses and taxis without driver, for example), microsurgery (and any other kind of medical intervention that requires an invasive approach to the human body), management of the planet’s basic resources (oxygen, water, wind-generated or sunlight-generated energy) and a lot of other macro-sectors are about to be turned upside down by the Industrial IoT.
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