The Future of Sustainability is Digital Twin Technology

The world’s leading scientific institutions have made it clear that climate change is a dire threat to humanity, one that is already wreaking havoc on our ecosystems, supply chains, geopolitics, and more. Mitigating climate change’s worst consequences will take every tool at our disposal. For businesses and industries, this means finding and utilizing technology that will have a profound, immediate impact on both business operations and sustainability initiatives. This is where digital twin technology is transforming the way we react and adapt to climate change. Organizations around the world are increasingly turning to digital twin technology to develop and deploy more sustainable products, processes, and workflows. In fact, in Altair’s latest global survey report, 69% of respondents said they already leverage digital twin; and of those who said they didn’t leverage digital twin, 58% thought their organization would adopt it in the next two years. Moreover, of those who currently use digital twin, 71% said they began using it within the past year.

Digital twin use has exploded because it is both a boon for creating better products and processes and because it enables and unprecedented amount of sustainability achievements. Primarily, digital twin technology lessens organizations’ carbon footprint by reducing carbon dioxide emissions stemming from raw material extraction, design, production, operation, service, and maintenance. It also minimizes the amount of physical and material energy needed to design, create, and service products. Lastly, it makes it easier and more efficient for teams and organizations to gather information from existing products and processes, which streamlines up the pace of innovation and enhances future designs. In short, digital twin technology helps organizations make better, more sustainable products faster while eliminating unnecessary waste and energy use.

Perhaps digital twin technology’s most immediate impact is that it eliminates the need for physical prototypes, which are typically massive sources of material use and physical waste. By enabling teams to test, design, enhance, and produce new design iterations virtually, digital twin technology allows organizations to minimize the amount of material needed to create finished products, the amount waste that necessarily stems from physical prototyping, and the overall demand for raw materials. These are key elements in the fight against climate change.

More broadly, digital twin technology facilitates the transition to circular product development lifecycles and the circular economy, which is a system in which industrial processes and economic activities are restorative or regenerative by design, enable resources used in such processes and activities to maintain their highest value for as long as possible, and eliminate of waste through the superior design of materials, products, and systems, including business models,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Through digital twin technology, organizations can glean unprecedented amounts of material data that help them determine the best ways to use materials, the best ways to refurbish products and designs, and the best ways to build better products and processes to ensure waste doesn’t end up in our atmosphere, groundwater, wildlife, soil, air, or landfills.

Digital twin is already changing the way major industries operate, including the automotive and agricultural sectors – two sectors historically responsible for a significant amount of carbon emissions. For example, digital twin has helped farmers minimize fertilizer usage and better optimize their growing

conditions via seed placement and water usage. In the automotive industry, it has created lighter parts and more aerodynamic vehicles, which expend less fuel (be it petrochemical or electric) and travel further, which reduces overall energy demand. On the individual level, these may seem like minor improvements – but when we scale the energy-saving, emission-reducing power of digital twin to the world’s 7.7 billion people, the benefits are immense and growing.

Above all, digital twin technology gives us the opportunity to ensure we do our part to mitigate the worst effects of climate change and to secure a livable future for the generations to come. We can no longer produce and support products and processes that prioritize the present at the expense of the future. There are no silver bullets in the fight against climate change, but together, enabled by world-class technology, we can do the work and make an impact that will create a better world.

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About Author

Senior Vice President, Product and Strategy, with over 33 years at Altair, Mr. Yen currently develops the strategy and vision of Altair products and solutions with the primary goal to facilitate the development, sales and delivery of products that generate value to both customers and the business. Mr. Yen has held various leadership roles within Altair, including product management of Altair’s flagship modeling and visualization software, engineering consulting operations, marketing and business development. Prior to the current role, he led the Industry Verticals and Sales Enablement Team identifying the major trends, challenges and requirements of various industries globally, formulating go-to-market strategy, and enabling sales by aligning Altair’s technologies to maximize business opportunities, and values to customers. His diverse assignments include global centers of excellence and overseas business expansion in Japan, Greater China, Asia-Pacific and European regions.