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Digital Twin as a Digital Transformation Enabler

Nov 12, 2019
7 min read
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It’s all too much and not enough at the same time – Jack Kerouac. A literal mastermind of his time, Kerouac’s quote nowadays seems more relevant than ever before, especially when talking about data – in the last two years we have created more data than during the whole existence of humanity! And even with all this data, we still don’t have enough actionable information available. How can we manage the overwhelming amount of data in the context of facility operations and maintenance, to ensure that we will always have relevant, correct, and up-to-date information available for everyone who needs it?

In the end, data can be endlessly created. What matters is not the amount of data one has, but the ability to create intelligence out of it. With intelligence, better decisions can be made, business processes can be improved, and productivity can be enhanced.

In this article, Hans Kouwer & Erika Gracés, Hexagon PPM, discuss how digitalization and the digital twin concept can help facility owners in the process industry to embark on a digital transformation journey and create intelligence from their data.

Out of sync

With more than 2,5 quintillion bytes of data being created every day1 , there is simply too much data for us to handle. It is becoming increasingly important to be able to identify the relevant and necessary information from the overwhelming chaos of data around us. For individuals and businesses alike, the key to success is the ability to dissect data and make sense of it, transforming it into actionable information. Especially for business purposes, we are often out of sync with our data. We have different systems creating, updating, collating, and saving data, but being able to find the information needed for decision making is becoming more difficult as we speak.

How can we get back in sync? By having full, digital access to up-to-date and actionable information. The only way to achieve this is to digitalize the existing information. The potential of digitally transforming business processes is tremendous – according to World Economic Forum, digitalization can generate USD 1,6 trillion of value for the oil & gas industry alone over the next decade2! This is not just the case for oil & gas companies, but it can also apply to their customers, business partners, and even society as a whole.  Yet, over 60% of the CEOs don’t have a plan on how to introduce digital transformation in their company3.

Digitally transforming businesses

How can the Oil & Gas industry get started with digital transformation? The good news is that most of the time, everything you need is already there. The documentation and data needed for digital operations of a facility are often there, but probably not organized, digitized, consolidated, or centralized. A cornerstone of digital transformation for facility owners is an intelligent digital twin – a digital representation of the physical facility.

In this context, digital transformation is not an action list, where items are ticked off one by one, but rather the process by which you apply technology to allow information to be easily accessed by the people who need it, when they need it, and in the context of the work they perform. It will also make information available to people, both inside organizations and to those who are part of the value chain.

Digitally transforming any organization will open doors for new business models and new ways of working. In the context of operations, maintenance, and project activities, it drives fundamental improvement throughout the value chain, involving people, processes, and technology.

Overall, the biggest benefits that digital transformation and the creation of a digital twin bring are the increase in efficiency and reduction of risk. It allows users to get the most out of their existing resources by enabling them to find information faster, reducing need for reworking and reviews, reducing idle time while increasing visibility. Similarly, a digital twin will improve overall project performance by enabling consistent and standardized processes, and shorter communication cycles, which in turn lead to fewer changes being needed.

Building your digital twin

How can we build this digital twin? – the easiest way to conceptualize the process is to look at the different stages of a twin. The extent of maturity needed is based on the level of digitalization already in place.

The first level of the digital twin starts with a basic set of structured data and documents defining the facility configuration. For some of us, this is an excellent start, and enough to power better decision making and data intelligence. For some users, we can introduce a next level of the twin with more intuitive viewing and navigation with 3D models or laser scans.

The third level includes interoperability to exchange information and provide links to other systems in the operations landscape, such as maintenance management and asset performance solutions. The fourth level is where the real digital transformation business benefits will come to play, as the facility owners can leverage the digital twin to manage value added work processes, such as management of change, inspection, and integrated safe systems of work. The final stage of the digital twin can include advanced analytics, including Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Predictive Analytics.

In the end, the goal of any digital twin is to increase your plant’s efficiency. Digital twins offer a digital representation of your current and historic plant configuration, along with related performance information.

Digital twin evolution and asset lifecycle information management maturity curve

Conclusion

It comes as no surprise that both businesses and individuals struggle with the overwhelming amount of data available. The key for success for both companies and individuals in the increasingly digital world is the ability to create actionable information and intelligence from data.

In the context of the Oil & Gas industry, creation of a digital twin is a cornerstone for digital transformation. With a digital twin, users can make sense of the data and increase efficiency.

Click here to learn more about how Hexagon PPPM’s Digital Transformation Solutions can support you through your lifecycle journey.

About Hexagon PPM

Hexagon PPM transforms unstructured information into a smart digital asset, a digital twin for engineering information that empowers our clients to embark on a digital transformation journey. For more information about us, please visit www.hexagonppm.com

References

  • 1] Data never sleeps 5.0 infographic ©DOMO
  • 2] Digital Transformation Initiative in collaboration with Accenture © World Economic Forum
  • 3] Changing Corporate Culture and Organizations to Introduce New Ways Of Working - Digital Transformation of Facility Operations White Paper © Hexagon PPM

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