Inspectioneering Journal

How Digital Twin Improves Maintenance, Reliability, and Asset Integrity Management for Storage Tanks and Terminals

By Floyd Baker, Vice President at Antea USA. This article appears in the September/October 2021 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


Digital Twin, which can be defined as a digital representation or virtual model of a physical object, is not a new technology; as a concept, it has been around for years. Yet, in the usage of asset integrity management (AIM) for oil and gas or petrochemical storage tanks and terminals, digital twin technology is evolving rapidly. It is a critical piece in the increasingly common movement toward digital transformation as many plants and facilities turn to laser mapping or 3D modeling to digitize their assets. What are these companies discovering? The positive impact of digital twins on inspection planning, maintenance costs, turnaround, revenue generation, and safety are substantial and rapid in their return. This article will examine why digital twin technology is being leveraged and how it can be done in a fiscally viable manner.

Applications for Mechanical Integrity of Storage Tanks and Terminals

Digital twin as applied to AIM for storage tanks and terminals helps eliminate information silos and consolidate all asset data into a single version of the truth. All data from disparate sources – including 2D, 3D modeling, point cloud data, smart P&IDs, PFDs, laser scanning, plot plans, and/or Google Maps – is consolidated and bidirectionally linked into one virtual replica of the entire plant or facility, including all assets within it and all components for each asset.

What does that mean, really? Imagine logging into your AIM software. On your screen is a visual representation of the plant that you can tap with one click to access the physical asset of interest. From there, you can:

  • View tank inspection, testing, and maintenance data.
  • Plan tank maintenance and repairs.
  • Schedule maintenance activities.
  • Manage regulatory requirements and audits.
  • Plan and schedule instrumentation work and calibrations.
  • Manage safety systems and fire suppression equipment.
  • Visualize volumetric data through digital twin (fill height, flow rates, temperature, etc.) via integrity operating windows (IOW) and remote sensors.
  • Visualize and stage work activities from anywhere.

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