In recent years, Digital Twin technology has increasingly gained attention amongst industry majors in their effort to optimize asset utilization. The first implementation of this technology in the oil and gas sector was done twenty years ago with an on-line flow assurance system in the Oseberg field, in the North Sea. Today, many companies have utilized digital platforms that duplicate their assets.
But what makes Digital Twin technology a compelling if not crucial platform, and how can oil & gas companies benefit from it?
Digital Twin, fundamentally, is a virtual representation of a physical asset. Digital Twin technology pairs the virtual world and the physical with a depository of historical information and real time data. The platform provides an analysis of data and system monitoring, including dimensional analysis, manufacturing data, operational history, and archival information such as drawings and models. Diagnostic and analytical information is relayed with integrated sensors and external sources planted on the physical asset. This real time data and operational history is then used to benchmark machine performance.
Such critical information, gathered real time improves efficiency and reduces downtime adding value to the service life of the asset. Providing analytics such as failure diagnostics, condition monitoring, prescriptive and predictive analysis offers insight for continual improvement and increases productivity.
Digital twin technology thereby, brings experts, and on field operators together, offering crucial information and analysis for better decision making.
With technologies such as the Internet of Things, analytics, and AI coming to the forefront, digital twin technology is proving to be far more inexpensive to implement. Gartner Inc. lists digital twin technology amongst the top technologies that are likely to create a “substantial disruptive potential” across major industries and driving a 10% increase in operational efficiency. The global digital twin market was valued at USD $3.8bn in 2020 and is estimated to grow up to $35.8bn, in the next five years. As industries move towards lowering capital expenditures, increased operational efficiencies, and reducing the environmental impact of operations, it becomes imperative to drive technological competence in operations, assets, and people.
Digital Twin (DT) technology is not a new concept, but the idea of making it interdisciplinary and comprehensive is novel. It plays a role in virtually every stage of the asset lifecycle, right from the design stage with immersive technology to supply chain support and operations management. DT enables a “what-if” and “what – will” scenario stimulation, such that owners and operators can model drilling and extraction and understand conditions better and make designing virtual equipment feasible. No matter how remote the location, experts, and operators can assess situations better with real-time data feeds from sensors planted in the operational asset. Digital Twin also enables early detection of machinery failure or deterioration, facilitating a proactive approach to maintenance, thereby saving money, downtime, and costs.
There are a range of applications of DT-related technologies in the oil and gas industry. The key areas of implementation include drilling, pipelines, emergency evacuation, and asset lifecycle management. Some of the top ten application areas include
- Asset Monitoring and Management
- Remote Working
- Improve Health and Safety
- Reduction in Offshore WorkForce and Logistics
- Creating Always Connected & Artificially Intelligent Oilfields
- Project Planning and Lifecycle Management
- Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing
- Real-Time Drilling Analytics & Management
- Virtual Learning & Training
- Virtual Commissioning & Clash Checking
Asset management, including its monitoring and maintenance, project planning, and lifecycle management are the most prominent areas for the application of digital twin (DT) technology. The cost-saving numbers and return on investment, themselves, make for a compelling case to invest in DT. According to early adopters, the use of DT has increased reliability from 93% to 99.49% in a time period of two years. ROI is usually calculated by computing an increase in production, through reduced downtime or increased throughput. Research indicated a reduction in reactive maintenance by 40% in less than a one year, resulting in considerable cost savings in maintenance management, saving nearly $360,000 by merely predicting a potential power outage in an oil and gas plant.
Digital twin technology is put together on a common data environment, where data is key and central to the system. While this becomes easier in a greenfield site and proves challenging in brownfield sites, it can lead to a significant increase in the life of the asset, decreasing downtime, and ultimately improving profitability. In this scenario, adopting a more viable option to build a new data source using advanced sensors, with gateways from existing data sources allow for a more comprehensive and cost-effective method.
In an industry rife with uncertainty, being competitive is crucial for oil and gas companies to sustain and grow. The accelerated impact of technology in the last decade, including cloud computing and AI, has quickened the pace of implementation of digital technologies in the industry.
However, as in any other industry, reviewing work processes to adapt to changing technological tools is fundamental to the success of a new system. Operational change management, and buy in of key players and field operators, thereby remains a challenge and hallmark for a successful digital twin implementation project. It is also imperative to create a Digital Twin roadmap focusing on establishing business value at every stage, through systemic integration across organizational functions and disciplines.
At Tech27, we understand the challenges faced by companies in pursuit of digital transformation in domain industry. With experience of more than a decade with leading organizations in Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Energy, Infrastructure, Process Plants and Healthcare, we are here to work together with you, for proven and substantial results.
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