Thought Leadership

How the digital twin and collaboration can help in the pursuit of sustainability

By Victoria Carlos and Conor Peick

As the global focus on the environment intensifies, entire industries are recognizing the importance of adopting a future-forward mindset. In response, companies are actively embracing strategies to implement sustainability into their products, processes, and daily operations.

In this blog, we’ll look at the prospect of sustainability across various industries and how data, collective intelligence, and the supply chain are critical to driving a green transformation. 

Envisioning an eco-friendly future

To minimize their ecological footprint and environmental impacts, industries are looking for opportunities to cut their emissions and embrace renewable energy. Here’s a look at the way some industries are engineering a greener tomorrow:

  1. Automotive: Perhaps the most ubiquitous sustainability transformation in the auto industry is decarbonization through electrification. The electric vehicle (EV) movement continues to gain momentum around the world as new regulations and incentives coming into effect, a greater selection of vehicles at multiple price points become available to consumers, and a significant increase in the number of charging stations are making EVs far more accessible. In addition, the automotive industry has started exploring innovative avenues such as product testing via simulation, which can significantly reduce material consumption and costs while simultaneously propelling product development.
  2. Aerospace: Like the automotive industry, aerospace is recognizing the potential of an electrically driven future. In urban air mobility, for example, there’s a notable trend towards electric-powered air taxis for shorter flights. In addition, companies are currently investigating the possibility of alternate energy sources such as hydrogen and battery-powered aircraft for long-haul commercial journeys, greatly reducing the carbon emissions of air travel. This push for sustainable aviation is encouraging engineers to use the digital twin and simulations in ways they haven’t before, ushering a new era of eco-conscious aerospace ingenuity.
  3. Food and beverage: It’s crucial for food and beverage manufacturers to address emissions beyond the farm, as a significant portion of the carbon footprint is generated during product transportation and distribution. Consequently, manufacturers are focused on improving sustainability within their distribution chains. Although food and beverage manufactures don’t directly own these channels, they are increasingly diligent in the selection of partners who provide transparency into energy usage and assume responsibility for the overall environmental impact of their operations.

The power of a digital twin

While developing sustainable products and processes is a clear trend across industries, turning this ambition into a tangible reality will depend on the actions of companies in each industry.  Thus, the question arises: How can companies begin achieving these sustainability goals? When it comes to bridging the gap between conceptualization and implementation, there is no better tool than a digital twin.

With a digital twin, companies have the freedom to simulate, innovate, and create new designs that prioritize positive environmental impacts. By leveraging data, the digital twin empowers engineers to examine and manipulate different parameters of a product to evaluate its performance under certain sustainability requirements.

Furthermore, the potential of the digital twin extends beyond the development stage. It offers continuous monitoring and optimization throughout a product’s lifecycle so that engineers can proactively identify and address opportunities to improve sustainability. This enables organizations to employ collective intelligence to make data-driven decisions that drive product optimization and fulfill their environmental objectives.

The importance of supply chain synergy

Achieving sustainability targets in today’s landscape also requires addressing the complexities of supplier ecosystems and supply chains. Companies benefit from working with suppliers and manufacturers who are also working towards developing greener practices—and transparency and collaboration are crucial for success.

To tackle the environmental hurdles posed by complex supply chains, companies and suppliers must exchange data securely and confidentially to enable visualization. By transforming data into actionable insights, companies can identify the most significant environmental impacts within their supply chains and take steps to develop sustainable solutions that ensure lasting environmental stewardship.

Ultimately, it’s vital for organizations to adopt a holistic perspective of sustainability that transcends the boundaries of their own operations. By expanding their collaborative efforts and leveraging technology to make smarter decisions, companies can accomplish their sustainability goals in individual products, their processes, and within their supply chains.

To learn more about the role of the digital twin and the supply chain in creating a sustainable future, listen to our podcast Sustainability and a Digitalization Strategy.

Leave a Reply

This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at