How Digital Twins can help during and after COVID-19

Updated: Apr 10

By Julian Watts | Director, KPMG | National Chair Asset Data, AMC | Engineering & Asset Management Advisory



Asset owners, custodians, delivery agencies and operators need to have an ongoing understanding on how their asset portfolio delivers value to their customers and stakeholders.


The Digital Twin is a natural progression of what asset managers have been achieving through digitising our physical, environmental, economic and social worlds. This enables us to build simulations of every eventuality. In the current COVID-19 climate, these may be:

  • What if you had less funds or an injection of funds?

  • What if you had less resources or needed to redeploy resources?

  •  What if you needed to defer or accelerate capital or maintenance works?

  • What are the customer and commercial impacts on performance/service delivery?

  • What are your best case options during, immediately after and return to normal following the event?

These may seem like simple questions although in an increasingly complex world, simple can feel more difficult than ever.


Three simple value drivers for Digital Twins during COVID-19


1.     Simulate outcomes of different scenarios

As outlined above, there are many business decisions that need multiple options to be considered. A Digital Twin simulation of how your customers might be impacted by a decrease in workforce or how much maintenance backlog you might be able to clear due to increased downtime are excellent ways of illustrating preferred future scenarios.


2.     Enable a common platform for visualising outcomes and making decisions

Senior decision makers are presented with a variety of abstract trade-off decisions. These might be tables showing financial forecasts, graphs showing operational trends or radio buttons showing assessment of business risk exposure. While you may have different Digital Twin environments that look at different levels of detail (i.e. a component, a process, a system, a business or an entire country), having a common look and feel platform for sharing this information can enable a much greater level of understanding and confidence in backing decisions.


3.     Access your twins from anywhere

With travel limitations and social distancing, having remote access to the best information about your planning or operations is critical, no matter how frequently it is updated. Equally, enabling others to access the same information means people spend more quality time making decisions rather than trying to interpret different perspectives.


How to accelerate your journey to rapid benefits release


If you haven’t already started this journey, it may feel daunting to begin when much of the workforce grappling with how to join a video conference let alone adding new processes.


Below are some tips to get going:


a.     Enter at any maturity level

Don’t wait. The ducks will never line up perfectly and even the most advanced can still find ways to improve. Be honest with where you are and where you can realistically get to in the short term. Even a pilot will help to justify a business case for a longer term strategy.


b.     Leverage existing digital processes or capabilities

Most organisations will already have some level of digital representation of their assets or processes. This may range from a spreadsheet of assets with locations that can be linked to a GIS to managed workflow within enterprise systems with Power BI dashboards.


Understanding what base level information is useful in identifying how to prioritise. This will also help identify users that are more likely to champion a new idea making adoption and uptake easier.


c.     Focus on mission critical use cases

To gain attention and secure support during major events, the subject for change to a new process needs to be important enough to make a positive impact as long a current practices can still continue. This approach fosters trust while demonstrating real world application. Make sure you can show line of sight between the use case and corporate strategy, then do this in relation to other sue cases.


d.     Build on guidance that uses a common language

The more we treat Data as an Asset (DaaA) we should be cognisant of creating new data assets without suitable data governance in place. Leveraging industry level guidance and standards are a great way to rapidly produce Digital Twins that will be somewhat sustainable into the future. Earlier this month, the Office of Projects Victoria released the update to the Victorian Digital Asset Strategy (a very rewarding project to have supported).


The VDAS sets out an approach and templates to support projects in the creation of digital representations of physical assets. While there is a focus on new assets, the principles can be utilised for existing assets and other processes.

Here to help

To learn more about how you can adopt the Victorian Digital Asset Strategy, we have created a simplified overview here: https://home.kpmg/au/en/home/insights/2020/03/vdas-framework-asset-data-value.html


We have also created an assessment process to help you identify current maturity and target the best use cases that will release the most value.


For a constantly updated collection of ideas, response plans and support from our leaders across KPMG Australia in relation to COVID-19, see here: https://home.kpmg/au/en/home/insights/2020/03/business-implications-of-covid-19-coronavirus.html


So what are you waiting for? Get Twinning!


This article originally was posted in LinkedIn here.

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