Sustainability, the digital twin, and gambling were themes at this year’s HxGN Live conference, June 11th to 14th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 9th annual conference was split into seven tracks, representing Hexagon’s primary business groups: Geospatial, Geosystems, Manufacturing Intelligence, Mining, PPM, Platform Solutions, and Safety & Infrastructure.
This report will cover some of the highlights from the Hexagon PPM business group’s track. Hexagon PPM is a leading global provider of enterprise engineering software for designing, constructing, and operating industrial plants, ships, and offshore facilities. Key takeaways from the conference include:
- Hexagon expects sustainability to be a business driver for its customers
- Hexagon PPM is betting big on digital twin technology to drive scalable sustainability
- Digital twin success stories are beginning to emerge across industries
General Session Keynote: “Your Data Can Save the World”
Hexagon CEO Ola Rollén commenced the conference with a somewhat bleak examination of the cumulative impact of mankind on the global environment. Some of his statements were quite alarming. For example, since the rise of human civilization an estimated 80 percent of marine mammals and 83 percent of land mammals have become extinct. He also provided statistics showing the major sources of the 36 billion metric tons of CO2 being spewed into the atmosphere every year. Then, he shifted the tone of his presentation to a more encouraging note. While humanity has been damaging our environment, we have also made great strides in promoting our own welfare and quality of life.
Mr. Rollén expressed that the key for the future is to balance growth with sustainability. He explained that the key to achieving this goal is to use data in more clever ways to drive efficiency, productivity, and quality to reduce CO2 emissions. The remainder of the keynote touched on examples of how data and Hexagon technology can be used to address the major sources of carbon emissions; to transform transportation, feed more people with less pollution, clear the city skyline, and make both the planet and industry better. The culminating message was that “business as usual” is not the best practice going forward and that scalable sustainability should be recognized as a business opportunity. And finally, that those businesses that jump on the bandwagon and use data to achieve scalable sustainability are going to be the most successful.
Hexagon PPM Keynote: “It’s Time to Place Your Bets”
Mattias Stenberg, president of Hexagon’s PPM division, kept things a bit lighter with a gambling theme for his keynote presentation. Companies across industries are placing big, billion-dollar bets in the form of acquisitions. But how can they ensure a good return? Mr. Stenberg insists that the first step to identifying winning strategies when placing such wagers is to recognize and avoid the losing strategies: betting on hype or buzz and betting on the status quo. So where is Hexagon PPM placing its chips?
- In the design space, Hexagon PPM is working to maintain its position as a leader in the market through user experience (UX) updates. With a pending launch of the new UX scheduled for October, the company is focusing on creating a connected experience across its product portfolio as well as introducing autonomous capabilities, such as automatic tagging of scanned assets.
- In the build space, Hexagon PPM is augmenting its construction solutions portfolio with new acquisitions. The goal is to address and tie together all key activities in construction with Hexagon products. The acquisition of Bricsys in 2018 is part of this strategy. A CAD and BIM software developer, Bricsys’ solutions extend Hexagon’s domain expertise into building design; adding walls, floors, doors, and other construction-related features for its customers in the AEC industry.
- For operations and management, Mr. Stenberg explained that Hexagon PPM is not aiming to be a control system, data historian, EPR, or asset reliability solution provider. Instead, Hexagon PPM is aiming for “everything else.” Examples of “everything else” include: operation digital twin, connected worker, operations and safety management, and situational awareness products.
Mr. Stenberg concluded his keynote by announcing a partnership between Hexagon PPM and Aspen Technology. Based on ARC Advisory Group research, the companies are leaders in their respective markets; Hexagon PPM in software for plant design, and Aspen Technology in software for process simulation and optimization. By collaborating, the two companies can provide a more complete digital twin that extends across the entire lifecycle of an asset, including both the physical infrastructure and chemical processes.
Breakout Session: “Beyond the Digital Twin”
Alan Chan, manager of controls, information management and automation at Canadian Natural, which operates the Horizon Oil Sands, hosted one of many breakout sessions on use-cases for digital twins. Using Hexagon PPM’s SmartPlant suite of tools, Mr. Chan and his information management team created and organized a digital twin of their Horizon Oil Sands facility. This consists of 28,000 3D models, 800,000 discrete tags, and 200,000 drawings. Employees across the company have leveraged the digital twin, gaining access to it via a desktop viewer.
The digital twin is used to perform risk-based inspection analysis, create and track work orders, develop augmented and virtual reality applications, and as a source of data for the company’s enterprise manufacturing intelligence software. In closing, Mr. Chan summarized four key principles of a successful digital twin strategy:
- Visualization contributes to faster and more accurate decision-making
- Data fidelity is critical: A large, comprehensive ecosystem is fundamental to maintaining the model fidelity
- Easy access to training and support for the employees who utilize the digital twin is imperative
- Transitioning the model from the capital phase of its lifecycle to operations requires significant planning and commitment
Hexagon’s message that sustainability and capitalism can align beyond marketing and superficial advertising is promising. Mr. Rollén made it clear that Hexagon intends to be the company that facilitates this alignment. Through digital transformation, collecting, analyzing, and applying data will help companies operate at unprecedented levels of efficiency. Hexagon PPM is focused on delivering these capabilities for EPCs and owner/operators through a comprehensive suite of products and now with the help of strategic partners. Companies across a variety of industries are already realizing the impact of these efforts.
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Keywords: Hexagon, Digital Twin, CAD, Building Information Management (BIM), ARC Advisory Group.