Digital Twins Require Accurate and Reliable Data to be Effective

By Ralph Rio

Industry Trends

At the 25th ARC Industry Forum, hosted virtually, many industry experts gave their perspectives on accelerating digital transformation in the post-COVID world.  During the course of the Forum, Ralph Rio of ARC Advisory Group interviewed Alistair Stubbs, Vice President for Asset Information and Reliability at Bentley Systems.  Here are a few key takeaways from the interview.  The video of the interview can be found here and/or on YouTube.

Bentley Systems’ Digital Twin Solution for the Process Industries

In the interview, Mr. Stubbs talked about the need for digital twin solutions in the oil and gas industry. The oil and gas industry has seen tectonic shifts in the last few years, obviously driven by the transition to green energy combined with the impacts of COVID.  Mr. Stubbs believes we are experiencing the peak in oil demand and expects demand to now decline. As a result, producers are finding it increasingly difficult to raise capital for new projects.  Bentley Systems has seen its users pivot away from oil and gas toward renewable energy sources, and they need to fund that activity. They are looking to maximize the efficiency of their existing brownfield asset base by improving the way they operate and run these asset bases, while assuring accurate regulatory compliance and safety records. So, they are looking at digitalization and the implementation of digital twins as a means to reduce costs and increase efficiencies. With PlantSight and AssetWise, Bentley Systems provides a means to:

  • Enable those owner-operators to build a 3D digital twin using CAD files, point clouds, or photogrammetry.
  • Create the twin fast through access to accurate, validated engineering information and relevant plant data.
  • Sustain the digital twin through the asset lifecycle, including design, build, operate, and maintain.
  • Enable workers to efficiently access the information needed to execute their tasks safely.

These capabilities help ensure that users have access to the information needed for making the right decisions, at the right time, while following the necessary regulations, procedures and processes that ensure a safe workplace.

Making Investments in Digital Twin Solutions More Sustainable and Reliable

Companies have more than enough data—the issues they face pertain to quality, reliability, management, and governance. Companies are adopting digital twins to enable them to cut through that mass of data to identify what is the right data and build the concept of a reliable digital twin. Bentley Systems believes companies need a behavior shift.  A problem is created when loading a digital twin with available but unproven data and when bad choices are made, auditing and inspecting to correct the data.  Instead, owner-operators should use a platform that automatically validates the data and use only validated data in a digital twin. The result is more efficient use of engineering resources and trusted digital twins by all stakeholders.

Digital Twins

The demographics of the user base have a higher expectation of how they want to navigate and find information. Newer engineers come with a more IT-first approach and higher expectations for the digital tools. They expect access to the right information and to trust it. The overall key objective of PlantSight is to provide a platform for creating digital twins and assure the underlying information is trustworthy.

Bentley Systems’ Validation Process Makes Data Reliable

Validation can apply in many different ways. Bentley Systems enables users to automate most of the validation with artificial intelligence (AI) to check for missing values, digitize documents, and much more. Bentley Systems’ software has automated the conversion of unintelligent piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) using artificial intelligence into rich data models that can thereafter be kept up to date and maintained digitally, efficiently, and accurately. AI also cross-references information between systems and compares it to validate or identify errors.  Consolidating and managing the comments and the feedback during that process can build a trusted digital twin.

Bentley Systems’ message to users, with brownfield assets in particular, is they have the data, and the quality of that data shouldn't be a barrier to adopting digital twins. The advice is to use the digital twin to continuously improve the quality and integrity of that data. As a result of engineering and maintenance activities, companies are putting in place just enough impetus in the system to continuously improve, so over a period of time they're getting better data. And the evergreen digital twin is key to achieving better data – it is the first step that will let them achieve the goal of 100% trusted information on which decisions can be made.

Mr. Stubbs concluded by saying, “We encourage people to take advantage of the capabilities in the digital twin system in Bentley's PlantSight to clean up, validate, and improve the trust in your data.”


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