While many digital twins and digital transformations are focused on new assets, projects in development, or the greenfield space, operators are also looking at their legacy portfolios.
The truth is, there is much to be gained by transforming the way you operate your existing assets. And while there may be some challenges to overcome, the benefits of digital transformation far outweigh the lack of digital transformation. Here’s what our Growth Manager Miguel Valdez has to say on the topic.
There’s a misperception in the industry that it’s difficult to deal with data from brownfields – especially if data is not sophisticated enough, or outdated. What are your thoughts?
Let’s knock the first rumor out of the conversation right away. While it’s true that digital tools require data, we can eliminate the concern that a brownfield asset’s data might not be mature enough. One simple example is 2D vs 3D. When we say digital twin, one of the first things that come to mind is a futuristic 3D model – and while this is fine, it’s not required. Solutions exist today for generating CAD model data by capturing image data and stitching it together, without the prerequisite of existing 3D images or laser scans of the asset.
What about data quality, isn’t that a major concern?
To tackle this question, let’s talk about as-built vs CAD models vs P&IDs. It’s not uncommon that all three of these data sources reflect differences, variations, or flat-out inaccuracies. A true digital twin can assist with identifying and correcting gaps or updating systems of record to reflect real work conditions. To that end, this is one of the earliest benefits of adopting a digital twin that we’ve seen our customers realize.
How will digital transformation change the way people work today?
As you embark upon the journey of digital transformation, the way your organization works will also transform. The objective of a digital twin is not to apply digital technology to your existing work, it is to enable your organization to work digitally.
Regardless of how aged your asset is, a new operating model that applies digital twin technology will bring opportunities to restructure how you support your asset(s). Your team will learn how to leverage the availability of a true single source of truth, with all information in one location, to develop new and optimized ways of working.
What benefits are unlocked from the deployment of a digital twin at brownfields?
A digital twin will fundamentally revise the way your business operates. The degree to which you leverage this opportunity is completely driven by the desired outcomes – so the benefits may differ, depending on how the digital twin is applied to operations today and in the future. In some cases, full autonomy, or a path towards full autonomy can be achieved. In other cases, significant reductions in downtime or lost time will result in efficiencies that can only be realized by the revised digital operating model.
Is it possible to reduce the risk profile of a brownfield plant just by introducing digital twin technology?
This revised operating model means you’ll have to take a close look at your maintenance and operations processes and even your decommissioning activities. With democratized data – which means more data at the fingertips of the user/operator than ever before – you can be more diligent with your work order planning, scheduled downtime, and the overall safety of operations. The ability to simulate, deconflict, create what-if scenarios, and analyze work planning greatly reduces the risk profile for brownfield assets. These things are already possible to some degree, but a digital twin optimizes these processes and creates a level of transparency and visibility not otherwise available with today’s manual process.
How can operators begin to leverage digital twin technology for brownfields?
Today, engineers, facility personnel, and support staff access many systems to execute workflows. System workflows are contained within siloes and require manual intervention, which can take up valuable time for everyone involved in processes like Permit to Work applications. The digital twin solves this by integrating across systems and democratizing data for your users.
Implement the most common functions within our industrial work surface, starting with maintenance workflows. Work orders, permitting, and isolation planning are good candidates for repetitive work. Cut time spent on planning and scheduling by using the Simultaneous Operations (SIMOPS) workflow and train your people to share digital twin “locations” when they plan their work. Incorporating digital twin annotations in daily workflows is already possible, and in our digital twin Kognitwin teams can already work together on cross-functional processes like safe isolation planning.
It’s important to highlight that the most critical step in achieving digital transformation is to simply get started. We often find that organizations attempt to gain some sort of “consensus” across the business before embarking on their digital journey. In reality, such consensus is rarely, if ever, achieved.
Ultimately, what’s important to consider is the mounting evidence that supports the value hypothesis of digitalization. Companies that have successfully started their transformation operate more efficiently, outperform the competition, and have more potential to reach their environmental and strategic goals than companies that have not.
Kognitwin is an industrial work surface where users can connect and collaborate in a digital twin setting to operate and maintain their assets. Leverage cutting-edge technology for deeper insights, dynamic simulations, and more autonomous operations.