2024 ARC Forum Recap Part I: Increased Business Performance Through AI and Digital Twins

Author photo: Larry O'Brien
By Larry O'Brien

Keywords: Industrial AI, Digital Transformation, Industrial Cybersecurity, Open Asset Digital Twin, Agents, Open Process Automation, Sustainability, ARC Advisory Group.


The 28th annual ARC Industry Forum in Orlando once again featured robust attendance driven by the rapid adoption of new technologies like AI, digital twins, edge computing, cybersecurity, and the Open Process Automation Forum. While many industry conferences focus on technology alone, the ARC Forum looks at these technologies as enablers for the business and operational excellence goals of industrial and critical infrastructure end users. As always, the speakers at the keynotes and case study sessions were end users sharing their experience with deploying these technologies to achieve their business goals. 

Wade Maxwell of ExxonMobil Discusses “The And Equation”

Wade Maxwell kicked off the executive keynotes with a comprehensive look at how ExxonMobil is approaching the issue of AI and Digital Twinssustainability and emissions reduction. Wade is vice president of engineering at ExxonMobil Technology and Engineering, and leads the development and deployment of engineering resources across all ExxonMobil business lines and Technical Centers. Exxon Technology Research and Engineering has over 10,000 scientists, project managers, and engineers, and serves as a technical competence, technology hydrogen standards, practices, and tools to ensure effective and consistent application. 

Wade shared ExxonMobil’s vision of "the and equation.” Oil and gas will remain primary sources of energy well into the future, and “the and equation” describes how Exxon Mobil will continue to serve a large portion of the world’s energy needs and reduce emissions at the same time. ExxonMobil is well advanced into investing $22 billion in sustainability initiatives, and the company views openness and interoperability as enablers for faster technology development and deployment at scale. 

Wade zeroed in on several primary areas where ExxonMobil is doing this, including carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS), hydrogen, and other sustainability related solutions such as plastics recycling. Wade also discussed ExxonMobil’s new approaches to operations that can significantly reduce emissions and increase safety, as well as the application of artificial intelligence and the continued advancement of standards and interoperability, including the Open Process Automation (OPA) and digital twins. 

Open Process Automation, Open Asset Digital Twins

ExxonMobil has also played a leading role in the development of the Open Process Automation Forum and the O-PAS Standard. The company is currently implementing an OPA-compliant project in Baton Rouge, LA later this year. 

Wade also discussed ExxonMobil’s adoption of advanced open asset digital twins, which have already demonstrated their value in turnaround and project planning. Wade also expressed that AI is foundational to the technology suite that will enable the energy transition at scale and with speed. AI is being used in subsurface modeling applications, as well as planning and optimization of CO2 injection sites and other CCUS applications. AI allows ExxonMobil to synthesize massive amounts of internal data and provides simplification of lengthy processes and complex content. 

Mike Carroll of Georgia Pacific on the Future of Agents

Mike Carroll, vice president of innovation at Georgia Pacific, talked about his team’s groundbreaking work beyond Generative AI to Automated Reasoning and Special Purpose Intelligence. Mike’s presentation focused on the business need for AI, and the numerous areas that AI could address as we move into a new age that is dominated by generative AI. Mike cited many examples of the current business challenges facing the world of manufacturing today, citing both the wave of baby boomers leaving the workforce and the “productivity plateau,” where US manufacturing productivity leveled off and even decreased somewhat in the early 2010s. 


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