ARC Advisory Group held its 2020 Industry Forum in Japan online September 15 and 16, 2020. In the first session of this virtual event, Mr. Masaki Kogure, Country Manager of AVEVA K.K., gave a presentation that focused on how AVEVA is supporting digital transformation in industry. He also mentioned several relevant use cases and provided a more detailed case study.
Once again, this year's ARC Japan Forum recognized the steady progress of digital transformation across business and industry. The Forum also revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic will further accelerate, rather than hinder that progress. The 2020 Forum hosted online presentations by 15 distinguished speakers, with a total of more than 300 people participating online.
AVEVA Moves Beyond Plant Engineering Software
Once known largely as a supplier of advanced engineering software for plants and infrastructure, UK-based AVEVA today provides a broad array of digitalization software and services to leading engineering-, manufacturing-, and infrastructure-related companies around the world. When it merged with Schneider Electric in 2017, AVEVA assumed responsibility for Schneider Electric’s software businesses (including the Avantis, SimSci, and Wonderware brands) and subsequently expanded its solution offering and business coverage. To highlight this reality, Kogure focused his Forum presentation on AVEVA’s current expanded software and services offering and how it can help industrial organizations progress on their respective digital transformation journeys. As we learned, this offering makes extensive use of emerging digital twin technology.
The Impacts of COVID-19 and Digital Transformation
Kogure opened his presentation with the following comments: “In order to recover from the turmoil caused by the coronavirus disaster, companies need to accept new operations in a ‘new normal’ environment. That is, industrial companies will utilize digital technologies such as the Cloud, Industrial IoT, digital twins, and AI to help connect people, processes, and facility assets. Overseas, digitalization has accelerated due to the need to maintain plant operations, even during lockdown restrictions. At the same time, costs and remote work have to be managed in a vast scale of industries.” He then explained that these challenges, combined with the availability of new digital technologies, have merged to become the driving force for digital transformation.
According to AVEVA, six essential factors enable long-term sustainability and digital resilience for industrial organizations. These are:
- Agility and flexibility for connected workers
- Data visualization with digital twins and optimized decisions
- Intelligence that fuses AI and human knowledge with machine learning and smart algorithms
- Cloud scalability and availability
- Holistic and timely insights derived from Big Data, and
- Integrated capabilities from the Industrial IoT
The company believes this will remain true even well after the effects of the current pandemic have passed.
Digital Strategy Matches Perspective of Plant Owners
AVEVA structured its solution portfolio to support its customers over the entire lifecycle of their capital assets. This includes digital twin technology to support engineering, operations and maintenance, and ongoing performance improvements.
Building the appropriate models requires linking between different kinds of data from engineering, operations, asset management, maintenance management, and other systems. Ultimately, AVEVA’s goal is to create models that enable owner-operators to predict future behaviors to further enhance the availability and performance of industrial assets.
AVEVA also believes that digital technologies are critical to support connected workers. These include Industrial IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and cloud. Digital twins, in turn, will enable improved visualization approaches and help connected workers make better and more informed decisions.
AVEVA Digital Twin Platforms
According to Kogure, the company’s different types of digital twins incorporate different digital solutions as appropriate. For example, AVEVA’s digital twin for engineering incorporates solutions for next-generation process simulation; large-scale point cloud data utilization solutions; and a next-generation design environment that integrates process simulation and plant design, intelligent P&IDs, and project management.
The company’s operational digital twins incorporate solutions for real-time optimization, execution, production accounting, and planning and scheduling functionalities.
Finally, the company’s performance digital twins include connected worker, condition monitoring, predictive maintenance, historian, reliability-centered maintenance, and asset performance management solutions.
Digital Transformation at Enel
In addition to mentioning some general use cases for AVEVA’s digital solutions at global corporations such as the Wood Group, Henkel, and Danone, Kogure provided a more detailed discussion on Enel's successful digital solutions, which make extensive use of AVEVA software technology.
Faced with the significant operating constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Italian utility, Enel, continued its push for digital transformation to help increase its operational and business resilience. A major electric power company that supplies electricity to a market of 74 million people across multiple countries, Enel’s overall generation capacity includes 42.1 GW of renewable energy and 42.6 GW of thermal power. In the current pandemic environment, corporate power consumption within Enel’s customer base dropped by more than 50 percent, while residential consumption increased by more than 20 percent due to stay-at-home mandates. Faced with these large-scale fluctuations in demand, further complicated by pandemic-related social distancing mandates, the company promoted remote operation and monitoring of its power generation facilities and scheduled maintenance activities accordingly.
Prior to the pandemic, the company had already moved its day-to-day applications 100 percent to the Cloud and transitioned approximately 4 percent of its 65,000 employees (of which 50 percent are field workers) to be remote workers. Enel was already operating its entire renewable power generation fleet remotely and monitoring most of its thermal power gen fleet remotely. In addition, all the company’s power plants (renewable and thermal alike) utilized AVEVA’s predictive maintenance systems.
Then, the pandemic and subsequent lockdown hit. Almost overnight, 52 percent of Enel’s employees became remote workers, the company switched all control of its renewable fleet to fully remote operations and transitioned its entire thermal generating fleet to a 100 percent re-mote monitoring environment. On the transmission and distribution (T&D) side of the business, 2,200 primary substations and 135,000 secondary substations were switched to remote operations (the company was already monitoring 44 million smart meters).
Moving forward, Enel plans to set up a remote operations center for its thermal power plants in Italy and establish prescriptive maintenance for its entire power generation fleet, with a view to realizing 100 percent unmanned plant operation in the future. On the T&D business, the company aims to remotely monitor and control all its substations.
Furthermore, Enel is currently working with Schneider Electric and AVEVA to establish a corporate approach that could support autonomous operations at its plants within a matter of months. This approach would combine digitalization capabilities for operations and maintenance and predictive analytics. Here, it’s envisioned that AVEVA’s AI-enabled analytics and advanced visualization capabilities could be used to forecast demand and improve overall decision support. The company’s plant optimization solutions, in turn, could be used to fulfill that demand in an optimal manner, and its other capabilities used to improve the skills of employees and support more effective collaboration between a largely remote workforce.
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Keywords: Digital Twin, COVID-19, Lockdown, Digital Transformation, XR, Predictive Maintenance, Prescriptive Maintenance, Autonomous Plant Operation, ARC Advisory Group.