2021-08-10 Tokyo Trade Center Nakamuramaki, Japan

– The global digital twin market is expected to reach 2026 billion dollars in 482, more than 2020 times the size of 15 –
– Local governments such as Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Tokyo Metropolitan Government are also actively using it –


In Japan, the use of 'digital twin' that reproduces real space in virtual space is spreading. Until now, it has been used in manufacturing, etc., but taking advantage of the temporary limited movement of people around the world due to the coronavirus epidemic, profit utilization in working methods and hospitality methods has also been progressed. In this overseas market news, we would like to introduce an overview and examples of digital twins.


What is a digital twin?

A digital twin refers to a realistic representation of what exists in the physical world (real world) in a digital space. It is a technology that enables realistic simulations by building structures and operating conditions of real space in virtual space. With the spread of IoT, data acquisition of all objects has become possible, and the technology of digital twins has also evolved dramatically.

Source: Prepared by KOTRA Tokyo Trade Center with reference to the Japan Economic Daily


Differences from existing models and simulations

Simulation is essential for any business in Japan. Simulations are being carried out in all industries, such as the development of products suitable for the size of the market and the establishment of safety technology for automobiles. A digital twin is also a kind of simulation. However, the biggest difference from existing simulations is that they are linked realistically with changes in the real world.

For example, suppose you are simulating the durability of a certain mechanical part. Mechanical parts wear and break while continuing to use, so they do not always retain their original performance or appearance. In the conventional simulation, it is necessary to re-enter the data by human hands for such changes due to wear or breakage. But digital twins don't need that kind of effort. Because it is linked with changes made in the real world, the wear of mechanical parts is also reproduced in the virtual space in real time.

Another great feature is that it can access the real world from the virtual space. When a problem arises in the digital twin, it is possible to avoid and solve the problem by accessing the real world through online.


Advantages of digital twins

I would like to introduce three representative advantages of the expected advantages of the introduction of digital twins.

1) Easy to test
In the manufacturing industry, it is often difficult to start new product development due to limitations in cost or physical space at the product development site. Since there are no physical limitations in the virtual space, the use of digital twins makes it easier and more convenient to conduct various tests than before, thereby calculating the required cost. Even if the result ends in failure, it is also attractive that the risk can be reduced small because it is a simulation in a virtual space.

2) smooth operation
The smooth maintenance and maintenance of facilities is also a big advantage of the digital twin. When an error occurs in the manufacturing line, it is possible to find out where the problem is and what is causing it, without requiring more time than before. Even if a problem occurs with a product that has already been distributed after shipment, it will be possible to find out the cause by examining the data in the virtual space.

3) cost savings
Prototyping (prototyping) or testing is an essential process in the development of a new product. It depends on the type of product, but it is expensive to start in real space. Taking a car as an example, the conventional technique is to have a test driver ride on the starting vehicle and run the dedicated course several times. However, with the introduction of digital twins, cost savings can be expected by doing these in a virtual space.


Introduction to the digital twin case

1. Construction (Building) Example: Kashima Construction

In the construction industry, the digital twin of each process of design → construction → maintenance is promoting efficient process design, improvement of safety and productivity of the site. The construction industry is divided into architecture, which deals with buildings such as commercial facilities, buildings, and houses, and civil engineering, which deals with dams, tunnels, bridges, and housing site development. Among them, in the construction area, 3D design, construction simulation, and maintenance optimization using BIM (building information model; abbreviation for Building Information Modeling), which corresponds to PLM (short for product lifecycle management) of the construction industry, is promoted. is becoming

Use cases in the field of construction (architecture). Kashima Construction's '3D K-Field'

Source: Kashima Construction website

For example, Kashima Construction (a large Japanese construction company) is developing '3D K-Field', a construction site digital twin for remote monitoring of construction sites. By displaying the data of people, objects, and cars acquired by various IoT sensors installed on the site in a virtual space, the condition of the construction site is visualized in real time.

2. Construction (civil engineering) example: Komatsu

In the civil engineering field under construction, the efficiency of the surveying process and the automatic creation of the process are being achieved by acquiring topographic data with a drone and building a three-dimensional data (digital twin). Until now, surveying was done by hand and was a time-consuming bottleneck process. It was difficult to correctly grasp the daily progress or the situation on the site, resulting in delays and inefficiencies in the process.

In this situation, Komatsu (a Japanese construction machinery and mining machinery manufacturer) is conducting sensing (measurement by sensors) by drones (measurement by sensors) and point group processing of the data through 'smart construction' of a digitization solution, and We provide a service that manages progress by creating digital twins.

Use cases in the field of construction (civil engineering). Komatsu's "Smart Construction"

Source: Komatsu website

As a result, the surveying efficiency has been greatly improved, allowing work that took about 4 days to be completed in 20 minutes. By updating the digital twin of the field with the above process at the start and end of every day of work, the progress of the process is visualized so that field managers and managers can make quick decisions.

3. City Use Case: Tokyo Metropolitan Government

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced in February 3 that it would start production of a digital twin that reproduces the city as a 2021D model in digital space in earnest. In 2, a demonstration project will be conducted to acquire data such as sunlight, air flow, and traffic conditions in real time and reflect them in virtual space. It will be formally produced by 2021 while verifying its effectiveness and how to use it.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has launched a project 'PLATEAU' that reproduces real-world cities in cyberspace. The modeled area is disclosed as open data at the G-Spatial Information Center after a technical cooperation agreement with the Social-Based Information Distribution Promotion Council (AIGID).

Examples of data disclosed by PLATEAU

Source: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport website


The Tokyo Metropolitan Government conducted empirical experiments in nine areas: disaster prevention and urban development, mobility utilization, energy efficiency, symbiosis with the natural environment, wellness, education, diversification of working methods, and industrial promotion. is starting

In March 2021, Mitsukoshi Isetan Holdings, a large department store, conducted an empirical experiment by reproducing some areas of Shinjuku, such as the Isetan Shinjuku department store main store, in a digital space using the 3D digital map platform "PLATEAU" of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Participants received customer service and experienced shopping by conciliating the digital space as avatars (alter egos). According to the Nippon Keizai Shimbun, in the opinion of the participants, "I think I will be able to enjoy walking with my friends even during the corona virus epidemic."

Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku, a virtual space

Source: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport website



Digital twins have historically been used in manufacturing and construction. In addition to the development of high-speed communication technology and IoT devices, digital twins are becoming more popular with the new corona as an opportunity. Research firm Markets and Markets predicts that the global market for digital twin technology will reach $2026 billion in 482, more than 2020 times that of 31 ($15 billion).

The use of digital twins tends to be limited to large enterprises developing their own systems. Masato Komiya, chief consultant at Nomura Research Institute, points out that “software that is easy to use even for small and medium-sized businesses is necessary for its spread.” This is a good time for Korean companies with digital twin technology to enter Japan.

In order to advance using the Japanese digital twin, visualization using the system is more important than anything else. Efforts are also needed to clearly show companies and customer groups what can be changed using technology, while making it more accessible to various users such as large enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). We look forward to many advancements from Korean IT companies that are leading the way in the digital field.


Source: Refer to the Japan Economic Daily, ITmedia, Markets and Markets, and major manufacturers’ websites, comprehensive data from KOTRA Tokyo IT Support Center


☞ Go to the original