Large global firms in India including Larsen & Toubro (L&T), Honeywell and Lowe’s have begun using digital twin technologies in a bid to transform their Global Capability Centres (GCCs) from mere cost centres that handle back-office functions to innovation hubs.
Industry experts said that GCCs are using these digital twins — virtual models of a physical object or space — to understand how a product would behave in various real-world scenarios.
Bengaluru-based staffing firm Xpheno said that over 15% of the experienced robotic-process automation (RPA) skillsets in the country, are employed with GCCs, and a part of them are involved in digital twin projects.
“Creating and deploying digital twins through RPA and other hyper-automation technologies is a game changer for data and process heavy GCCs, especially in banking, pharma, healthcare, logistics and ecommerce sectors,” said Anil Ethanur, co-founder, Xpheno, adding that the demand will continue to rise.
The company said that the key skills associated with digital twin jobs include automation, bot design and development, analytical skills, SQL and database skills, problem solving, software development, program and project development.
Rajesh Gharpure, Global Head- Manufacturing, Energy & Industry 4.0, Larsen & Toubro Infotech (LTI), said that his firm has established a dedicated digital twin practice to bridge the gap between virtual and physical worlds. LTI is a subsidiary L&T Ltd.
“Through LTI’s Industry 4.0 Innovation lab, we have been driving multiple use cases (for our clients) based on the digital twin framework, especially in the areas of predictive maintenance, improving field service, increasing uptime and remote troubleshooting through handheld devices,” he said.
According to Gharpure, the use of digital twins has tripled between 2018 and 2022 across sectors, including GCCs. The advent of 5G and growth of the metaverse trend is further fuelling demand, he added. Digital twins are increasingly being used to predict and prevent problems, and at the same time, they drive down maintenance costs, Gharpure said. “These technologies are helping GCCs to validate use cases using ‘virtuality’ of physical structure irrespective of the industry, geography, locations and time zones,” he added.
Ritesh Gupta, vice president and chief technology officer of Indian IT firm Happiest Minds Technologies, corroborated that GCCs catering to verticals like industrial and manufacturing are more likely to leverage digital twins, especially where the sub-optimal performance of a machine, or its breakdown, could result in huge losses and delays.
Gupta gave an example of a client that provides uninterrupted power supply (UPS) systems for industrial users. “The company used digital twins to gather real-time data for optimizing performance and predicting breakdowns. The firm resorted to the technology after downtime costs were reported to be over $1 million per hour.”
US conglomerate Honeywell’s dedicated software business unit in India, Honeywell Connected Enterprise (HCE), and retail giant Lowe’s Companies’ India division have also ventured into this space.
Kap Prabhakaran, HCE’s vice president of engineering, said Cairn Oil and Gas has deployed a software solution called Honeywell Forge to improve performance, reliability and efficiency. Lowe’s, on its part, has developed a room scanning and measurement app called ‘Measure Your Space’ that allows contractors and homeowners to measure rooms.
According to Gaurav Gupta, partner at consulting major Deloitte, the pandemic made enterprises realize the need to manage their assets remotely, which drove the need for digital twins.
“Digital twins can help GCCs improve processes, optimize operations, or discover a defect in a system so that they can apply the digital twin to the original system with much lower risks and definitely at a cost advantage,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, founder of research firm Greyhound Knowledge Group.
According to Ankur Mittal, managing director and senior vice president (technology) at Lowe’s India, digital twins “don’t just estimate the number of materials and the cost for different options but also prompt homeowners to determine the specs they may need when replacing appliances to minimize return trips. “Consumers can also compare the cost of different paints, windows or doors vary across approaches”.