Industrial Growth via M&A, Collaborations, and Digital Twins   

By Sharada Prahladrao

Acquisition or Partnership

At the ARC Industry Forum in Orlando, ARC Senior Analyst Paula Hollywood, interviewed Alan Kiraly, Senior Vice President at Bentley Systems.  They discussed digital twins - their impact on asset performance management (APM), as the fulfillment of Bentley’s vision, and as an enabler of the Design for Reliability (DFR) concept.  This blog articulates the key points and quotes of the interview.  The video can be seen here.


Impact of the Ivara Acquisition

When this acquisition was made seven years ago, it took the industry by surprise.  Alan explained that Ivara’s traditional APM business has continued with new deployments in areas, such as Southeast Asia and India, enabled by Bentley’s global presence.  

“From a Bentley perspective, and the main reason for buying companies, and the companies we have in the owner space, is for us to really understand what we were being asked to integrate with as a traditional 3D CAD modeling type company,” said Alan.  In this context he spoke about PlantSight, developed in collaboration with Siemens, as being a product filled with “heritage Ivara” – meaning the Ivara contribution in the development and delivery of this role-accessed comprehensive digital twin solution.

Digital Twins for APM

The conversation shifted to how digital twins will impact APM now and in the future.  Alan said that we are already seeing the impact.  “I think just making it easier to use the technology is a force of change,” said Alan.  Further, he said that these reliability programs differ across technology needs, geographies and cultures; so what is required is flexibility and a new way of thinking.  

“When you start putting the information in an accessible 3D model, just the visualization democratizes access to that information.  More people have access to it, more people can see it, and I think you can get more buy in from people, and that's just the beginning,” said Alan.  As more analytics is done and quickly put into the context of where it’s happening in the plant in real time, people will wonder how they ever managed without this.

Digital Twins to Fill the Skills Gap

As the new workforce comes onboard to replace the retirees, there’s going to be a skills gap, and that can be bridged by new technologies.  “From my perspective, I see digital twins as really fulfilling the vision that Bentley Systems put in front of me a very long time ago when it acquired Ivara, so here we are in this merging of the virtual and physical worlds.  Do you agree that it’s finally taking shape?” asked Paula. 

Agreeing with her, Alan replied that the digital twin is broad enough to encompass what the company’s vision has been.  “Earlier, the company aligned with the BIM messaging, but it wasn't quite right for everything, because that was more about constructions and buildings,” he said.

Besides unique technology at the core of how to aggregate this data together, the over 100 acquisitions Bentley has made has given the company the expertise of how to use it as well.

Design for Reliability

When Bentley acquired Ivara, the premise was to take the lessons learned in the operating phase of an asset or system and build that back into the design phase, but that didn’t really happen.  According to Alan, the how and what to take that information back to engineering was not available.  “Digital twin technology and the trend of people wanting design for reliability are enablers to achieve this objective,” said Alan.  He said it’s happening now and cited a case study where Bentley’s Open Utilities Designer product has a digital twin of the network grid.  This can link to the data from assets and even link it with simulations software, helping to make real-time decisions.  

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