Virtual reality (VR) technology, commercially popularized through video games, has since evolved for use in manufacturing, distribution, and supply chains. By enabling users to design, simulate, and evaluate environments in 3D, logistics providers can make better-informed decisions for optimizing material flows and monitoring processes. Digital twins of logistics operations can further unlock supply chain optimization.    

Key Developments & Implications

With recent advancements in the development of VR hardware and software, enterprise VR has been recognized as an important logistics asset capable of enhancing planning, resource allocation, and decision making. This has been enabled through VR applications in logistics such as virtual training, virtual concept creations, and digital twins. These have far-reaching implications for the logistics provider including improved monitoring of logistics processes and subsequent reduction in cost, waste, and risk when transporting and delivering goods.

  • Virtual training using VR will provide a much more efficient method to educate employees on logistics processes. Practical VR demonstrations involve immersive e-learning scenarios, which are particularly important for health and safety topics such as operating heavy machinery. This form of training is cost effective and its immersive nature can lead to greater employee satisfaction.

  • Virtual concept creations including production simulations and digital layout planning for physical sites will be much easier to implement through VR. Material flows, infrastructure planning, new equipment simulation, and setup costs can be visualized and trialed prior to implementation. Logistics providers will be able to accurately architect test environments with a virtual “look and feel”, resulting in improved and accelerated planning processes with reduced costs.

  • Digital twins refers to the digital replica of a physical asset that is connected through the IoT. Logistics companies will be able to detect and respond to activities occurring in the physical world that are immediately reflected in the virtual representation. This can include maintenance activities of a forklift, utilization of a delivery truck, or recording shock events for a smart package during transportation. This allows for real-time updates on the status of goods and assets throughout the supply chain, leading to faster responsiveness, reduced waste, better inventory performance, and warehouse optimization.

Digital Twins in Logistics

The virtual and physical worlds are coming together. Powered by the Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and advanced visualization technologies, digital twins are virtual representations of physical assets that change, grow and learn alongside their real-world counterparts. Take an in-depth look at what digital twins mean for logistics: their potential to improve the performance and efficiency of logistics processes, and the new demands that digital twin enabled businesses will place on supply chains and logistics activities.

Questions answered in this report:

  • What is a digital twin and what does it mean for my organization?
  • What best-practice examples from other industries can be applied to logistics? 
  • How will my supply chain change because of digital twins?


Talk to an Expert

Ben Gesing

Senior Innovation Manager, Trend Research
DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation

Ben Gesing is a global innovation leader with 7+ years of experience developing technical solutions in the logistics, telecommunications, and consumer electronics industry. Today he leads the Trend Research activities at the DHL Innovation Center near Bonn, Germany. He and his team are responsible for shaping the overall innovation agenda at Deutsche Post DHL Group through producing industry trend reports and piloting cutting edge technologies like artificial intelligence, computer vision, and robotics in live logistics operations together with startups. 

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