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Five Ways to Find the Value of Digital Twins

By Floyd Baker, Vice President at Antea USA. August 20, 2021
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In today’s digital data-driven environment—which 2020 only accelerated—rapid decision making is crucial to effective asset integrity management (AIM). Operators must respond quickly and decisively to dynamic, complex, and ever-evolving data streams. 

Next-generation asset integrity data management and artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystems help operations, maintenance, and engineering teams work together to develop smarter maintenance programs, facilitate remote operations, and mitigate operational risk at scale.

However, despite the long-term time and cost savings that migrating could provide, operators are often resistant to replace legacy asset management and dated AIM systems. This is usually due to a perceived lack of return on investment or the ability to justify the business case, resistance to change, culture, complexity, and cost. The resulting challenges of maintaining and improving outdated legacy systems create manual handoffs, costing operators’ valuable recruits and causing them to lose out on new opportunities and cost savings. 

One of the most important opportunities is digitalization, visualization, and access to actionable information, which is best achieved via intelligent AIM software with digital twin technology. Yet, can it really create enough value to justify the business case?

Five Ways to Find Value of Digital Twins

  1. Improve production, efficiency, and margin: leverage data-enabled Digital Twins to monitor asset health, predict failure and maintenance needs, and improve decision-making at a plant-wide scale. This technology enables operators to evolve their plant maintenance and inspection data management to improve infrastructure planning, equipment staging, and safety situational awareness.
  2. Improve safety and environmental impact: the ability to visualize a work area remotely improves the safety of personnel who won’t have to be exposed to hazardous workspaces. It also reduces waste and rework, as one can immerse themselves in the virtual workspace during the planning stages to gain more insight.
  3. Accelerate decision making: Digital Twins amalgamate data from a multitude of disparate sources, including traditional and non-traditional sources such as data historians and remote sensing devices, and then overlay that information with 3D and point cloud data for a virtual replica of your asset. Within that digital replica, all actionable intelligence you require can be accessed with one click of a button. The result? A faster, higher level of analysis for increased confidence in your maintenance and operational decisions.
  4. Optimize maintenance inspection work planning, scheduling, and execution: reduce the cost of materials, record processes, and document results. You increase asset availability and optimize cost of resources by geospatial maintenance, inspection, and nondestructive testing planning. The ability to choose a zone in a Digital Twin and plan all activities that are due, or coming due, in a given timeframe while all resources are in place such as scaffolding, manlifts, cranes, and other costly requirements, helps ensure the right materials are purchased and activities stay on track. Correctly capture costs associated with these resources and manage future budgets when these activities come due again.
  5. Streamline field workflows and improve work quality: reduce unnecessary wrench time by preplanning in a Digital Twin. Having this capability empowers inexperienced personnel by delivering instant access to historical information with one click of a button, in a visually contextualized work area, that virtually replicates the facility, the asset, and even the assets’ components.

Ultimately, the most value-driven purpose is the speed at which data can be accessed in order to adopt a proactive approach to maintenance—reducing expenditure on excessive manpower or unplanned downtime. Digital twin expedites the efficiency, accuracy, and effectiveness of AIM by rapidly accelerating access to actionable intelligence. It is literally the difference between requiring hours to find corresponding documentation for an asset and taking seconds to locate it.

As the industry continues its move into digital and remote work environments, and legacy systems of the past simply cannot keep up to the modern climate, the value becomes even more evident. The future of asset intelligence is here–and it starts with Digital Twins.


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