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  • Gary Pine

Systems engineering, digital twins and supply chains

The interdependence of systems engineering, digital twins, and supply chains is a manifestation of the interconnectedness characteristic of modern engineering and technological progress. Each of these elements plays a pivotal role in the construction, management, and enhancement of intricate systems. Their amalgamation can yield substantial advantages, including heightened efficiency, reduced costs, and mitigated risks.

Systems engineering represents a holistic and multidisciplinary technique applied to the design, deployment, and management of intricate systems. It emphasises the comprehension of mutual interactions among different components, ensuring the entire system satisfies the predetermined requirements, goals, and objectives.

In the context of supply chain management, systems engineering is indispensable as it enables organisations to architect and sustain supply chains that are efficient, resilient, and economical. The concept of digital twins refers to the virtual counterparts of physical assets or systems.


These digital replicas are crafted using real-time data to simulate, analyse, and optimise the performance of the system. Engineers leverage these models to decipher system behaviour, detect potential issues, and evaluate solutions before their real-world application.

The use of digital twins extends to individual components of a supply chain and the entire system, offering companies invaluable insights into their supply chain operations. This facilitates the prediction of potential challenges and the formulation of strategies to enhance performance and minimise risk.

Supply chains constitute the intertwined networks of organisations, individuals, operations, information, and resources that contribute to the lifecycle of goods and services, from their inception to their final consumption. Proficient management of supply chains is pivotal for businesses aiming to stay competitive in today's globalised economy.

The application of systems engineering principles and digital twin technology enables companies to design and administer supply chains that are more efficient, adaptable, and robust. The integration of these three pillars - systems engineering, digital twins, and supply chains, can yield several advantages:

a. Refined decision-making: The comprehensive perspective of the supply chain offered by systems engineering and digital twin technology equips organisations with the necessary insights for informed decisions related to resource distribution, process enhancement, and risk mitigation.

b. Amplified efficiency: Digital twins provide the tools to identify and eliminate inefficiencies within the supply chain, thereby streamlining processes and minimising costs. The principles of systems engineering ensure that these optimisations do not compromise the overall system's performance and stability.

c. Diminished risk: Digital twins enable organisations to simulate and analyse potential supply chain disruptions, identify weak links, and devise contingency plans to alleviate the impact of such disruptions. Systems engineering contributes to the effective integration of these plans within the broader supply chain system.

d. Accelerated innovation: The ability to experiment with and refine innovative ideas within the digital twin environment before their real-world deployment allows companies to innovate at a faster pace and in a cost-effective manner. This can translate into a competitive edge in the market.

To summarise, systems engineering, digital twins, and supply chains are indissolubly interconnected, each playing a crucial role in the design, management, and optimisation of complex systems.


The integration of these components can lead to substantial benefits in terms of efficiency, cost reduction, and risk mitigation, leading to more competitive and resilient supply chains.

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