Digital Twins in the Process Industry: From Vision to Reality, From Idea to Action

Digital Twins in the Process Industry: From Vision to Reality, From Idea to Action
Published: 19 May 2020 - noon
By: Staff writer

Digital twins are rapidly advancing from vision to reality in the process industry. Many organizations have already put digital twin ideas into action. There are many proof points that indicate digital twins have entered the mainstream. Here is a practical application in action at Hatch.

Hatch Sets New Record for Production Ramp-up Time Through Use of a Complete Intelligent Digital Twin

Hatch delivered a new plant in under two years, from feasibility to start up. Hatch used Bentley’s plant open modeling applications to design a complete, intelligent digital twin to manage and share information among its engineering offices in Canada, South Africa, India, Australia, and the DRC. The project team decided not to produce traditional mechanical, piping, or structural general arrangement drawings and instead use the live model for all production needs. The project team moved engineering quality processes upstream using 3D modeling, enabling them to compress project timelines that would otherwise not have been possible using traditional drawing-based piping isometric quality processes. The team produced piping isometric deliverables in a continuous “follow-the-sun” progression with teams across three time zones.

Efficiencies were achieved through quality-controlled, component-based 3D modeling workflows, all managed in a connected data environment. The digital twin played a significant role in setting a new industry benchmark during commissioning by reducing production ramp up from six months to one week after completion of hot commissioning. The result was a substantial increase on the return of investment for the client’s operations.

This is just one example of digital twins providing an improved digital way of working from project delivery into operations and maintenance. Digital twins provide process improvement opportunities that will, in turn, improve costs, safety, resilience, and even your carbon footprint.

A Step-by-Step Guide for Executives to Develop a Digital Twin Strategy and Plan

As digital twins are rapidly advancing from vision to reality, entering into the mainstream, process industry executives need to begin thinking more specifically about how to implement digital twins to achieve the best return on projects and assets.

The first step in developing a digital twin execution plan is to work at the top level of your organization to come up with a strategic plan. The people in charge of the business need to recognize the opportunities around digital twins. They need to be thinking about digital transformation, particularly about how digital twins can work to your advantage to harness your most important asset –information. There are few things as enduring through the lifecycle of an asset or facility as its information model, even including the physical asset itself. Thinking of the 150 year information model; designers and operating personnel, technologies and software applications would have come and gone, but the information will need to prevail and continue to provide accurate, timely and relevant information to workers needing to operate the asset / facility efficiently and safely. The digital twin delivers that information within an immersive 3D environment and provides you with the tools to keep it evergreen.

Tactical Plans

Next comes the tactical plans—because while a strategy is necessary, it is important to plan out the details of how you will get there. Think about what project you could use digital twins on first. Then, once you feel comfortable with the use and the technology, you will be ready to begin completing your overall strategic plan.

What can you do with digital twin technology?

As you plan to use digital twins, you are going to need the most resources for the most capital, and greatest flexibility. There are a few easy things that you can do to ramp up quickly. The most important is to find an open, scalable platform that lets you easily create, visualize, and analyze digital twins to gain valuable insights into your projects and assets without having to change your workflows.

What’s next?

When considering a digital twin platform, it is important to find one that lets you quickly deliver living digital twins, visualize your data in mixed reality, and use the latest technology to deliver decision makers new insights into what was previously dark data.


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