Digital Twins and Sustainability: A Comprehensive Review of Limitations and Opportunities
During the past few years there has been an increasing push to deliver sustainable products and improve production processes to meet the growing demand faced by various types of industries. There is a high importance placed on identifying and defining project, product, and policy goals but sustainability goals within these areas are difficult to define. Digital twins have shown to provide enhancement capabilities for industrial processes, task definitions, material handling, and an overall design of various products required in an expanding fast pace marketplace of today’s world. Digital twins offer industries a virtual sandbox where they can model their manufacturing base, modify configurations in real-time bidirectionally between both digital and real world, and make predictions on improving sustainability. A systemic literature review was performed on an initial 230 studies which were later reduced to 32 studies following the guidelines by Kitchenham where metrics and indicators for defining sustainability goals were identified, coded, and themed using open coding standards. 499 codes and 12 themes (Performance, Environmental, Process, Quantity, Location, Distance, Temperature, Quality, Time, Financial, Human, and Other) were initially identified from the coded metrics and indicators. By addressing the research questions the codes and themes were reduced to 274 codes and 5 themes. The research themes consist of (1) identifying challenges in integrating metrics with digital twins, (2) Uncovering limitations specific to digital twins and sustainability, and (3) discussing the requirements engineering process on addressing limitations and validating the results. The findings from this study provide a guideline on which limitations and perimeters need to be set using digital twins in order to identify appropriate metrics and indicators for defining desirable sustainability goals for industries.