Using digital twins for knowledge transfer: science fiction or a new field of application?

By guest blogger Yeama Bangali, from the campaign’s project FutureWork360

The current COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown that our constantly changing world of work is far from being resistant to disruption. Personal encounters during workshops, meetings and events are no longer possible and new virtual and creative solutions are being developed to enable research collaboration and seamless work processes in times of crisis.

One of these solutions is the digital twin, a digital representation of a real object or process. While to date, it is mostly sectors such as the automotive industry that have benefited from using digital twins in manufacturing, it is worthwhile to consider new possibilities of application.

There is great potential: our results and experiences within the FutureWork360 project have shown that digital twins could enable or facilitate digital collaboration across a variety of sectors, particularly during the current COVID-19 crisis.

The project team behind FutureWork360 has, for example, developed a promising use case beyond industrial application where a digital twin makes it possible to give members of staff, customers and clients, partners and interested parties access to research, innovative solutions and knowledge, irrespective of time and place and despite existing contact restrictions.

Schools, universities and continuing education institutions — where knowledge transfer plays a fundamental role — could use digital twins to meet the increased demand for digital learning offers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to respond to people’s need for social belonging, motivation and fun. At the same time, this could have a positive effect on innovation and productivity.

In human resource management, too, there is a high demand for innovative strategies to retain carriers of knowledge within the organisation and emphasise the importance of their work and role. In marketing, the same applies to customer retention.

Moreover, digital twins can be used for switching to digital events. People no longer have to travel to participate in virtual open day events that take place in a digital twin. This means that it remains possible to foster customer relations and retention even in times of crisis. In addition, reduced levels of travel and transport can have a cost-saving and climate-friendly impact.

Digital twins also have great potential with regard to the maintenance of buildings. For example, facility managers can use digital lab twins to measure distances. What is more, data stored in the digital twin makes it possible to monitor the condition and operating parameters of machines and plants over a longer period of time. This makes it easier to monitor plants, develop indicators and detect damage earlier.

For those who are interested, experts will be available for discussion by email or during one of the online sessions on digital twins.

Further information:


Video: A virtual 360-degree lab full of industrial work innovations

About the author:

Yeama Bangali is a science communication expert at Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO in Stuttgart, Germany. She also manages the multi-channel content of the new FutureWork360 research initiative which is part of the international campaign "The Future of Work", funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Yeama Bangali

Fraunhofer IAO
Multi-channel content manager



https://blog.iao.fraunhofer.de/ (blog in German)