Digital Twins for Operational Excellence

By Sharada Prahladrao


As a Platinum Sponsor at the recent ARC India virtual Forum, Bentley Systems had an opportunity to demonstrate the company’s far-sighted solutions, its thrust on digital twins, and the digital transformation journey through partnerships and collaborative efforts. digital twinsFounded in 1984, Bentley Systems provides innovative software and services for the enterprises and professionals that design, build, and operate the world’s infrastructure. Comprised of integrated applications and services built on an open platform, each solution is designed to help ensure that information flows between workflow processes and project team members, enabling interoperability and collaboration. 

Presentations by Anne-Marie Walters, the company’s Industry Marketing Director for Process and Resource industries, and Amit Shrivastava, Director, Business Development - Digital Twin Solutions, focused on the importance of digital twins across industries, substantiated with examples and case studies. 

The quantifiable business outcomes of deploying a digital twin are:

  • Asset information integrity
  • Increased plant availability
  • Reduced risk
  • Improved plant integrity

Digital Twins for Industrial, Infrastructure, and City Assets 

Ms. Walters began her presentation with a brief overview of the company and its four main solution areas: capital project delivery; asset and network performance for operations and maintenance; design integration that spans engineering design and analysis tools across all disciplines; and a new business unit that focuses on digital cities. Then she moved on to the hot topic of digital twins.  

She explained that a digital twin is a digital representation of a physical asset, process or system, which is continuously updated and synchronized from multiple sources, generating insights to optimize performance.

digital twins

Next, she played ARC’s video interview with Bentley Systems’ Bob Mankowski, Vice President, Digital Cities. To build a digital twin, a digital context (geometric and visual) representation of the asset is required. For instance, in the case of a city, that would include the cityscape. He said that a city is really a system of systems – there are water systems, electrical systems, transport systems, etc., but they interact in different ways. A digital twin enables visibility across this broad spectrum of information that's being gathered and created by these individual departments. Using digital twins in urban planning makes it a more participatory process across a broader range of stakeholders. 

Case Studies

Helsinki – The Digital City

Helsinki’s advanced digital twin enables the city to simulate “what-if” scenarios. Helsinki won the Cities Visionary Award in the last TechFest competition and the overall award across all categories. Helsinki uses Bentley applications to support its Helsinki 3D+ model, using a combination of laser scanning and oblique photogrammetry to model the surface and terrain to deliver a 3D reality mesh model of the entire city. The combination of these technologies helps in the urban planning process and improves the quality of life. 

Porto, Portugal

A digital twin of the water system in the city of Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, provides an integrated view of the urban water cycle in three phases:

  • Phase 1: Establish a federated environment with several industry-specific applications and integrated with back office systems, such as customer service management, billing and maintenance systems to project management, asset accounting, and so on.
  • Phase 2: Implement instrumentation, including sensors, telemetry meters (27,000) and remote management. Bentley’s solutions enabled access to information in real time to improve decision making,  leading to operating gains of 25 percent and reducing water supply failures by around 30 percent.  
  • Phase 3: Focus on automation, including building the decision-making tools and interfaces, autonomous systems, and new liability models. 

Chengdu, China

Chengdu Urban Construction Investment Management Group Co. Ltd. is undertaking a CNY 1.38 billion road reconstruction project in this very congested city. The project includes constructing 4.3 kilometers of roads, as well as bridges, tunnels, an underground pedestrian passage, and pipeline and auxiliary works. A high degree of coordination was required at the design stage to avoid mistakes, omissions, and collisions. Bentley’s solutions, including OpenBridge Modeler, OpenRoads, and ProjectWise, increased internal work efficiency by 20 percent, according to the user. These solutions detected and resolved 16 collisions and reduced construction drawing time by 120 hours. Using visualization applications also shortened the approval process by 15 percent, saving time and cost.

Construction at Shell Penn Chem

This construction site is close to the Ohio River and prone to flooding risks. Shell has been using drones and reality modeling to predict flooding and ponding, which is helping it to both plan construction and mitigate risks caused by heavy rainfall. Shell is using digital twins to record how the plant is being constructed to aid with future ongoing maintenance activities, while also using the model to track construction progress.

Digital Twins for Existing Infrastructure

This example of a transformer station is from Bentley’s partnership with Siemens where the reality model of the existing asset is linked with operations and maintenance systems. Siemens provide services to manage and maintain power plants and other utilities infrastructure and has combined Bentley’s tools with its own to deliver better service to clients. Siemens has a use case in the power plant industry where it claims to have reduced maintenance costs by 25 percent and increased plant availability by 10 percent by using data effectively and replacing paper-driven work processes. Further, Ms. Walters spoke about an electric utility in the city of Huntsville, Alabama that has combined its asset data with real-time information coming in from the network. The process enables data quality validation and visual insights for decision support. 

Digital Twins for Operational Excellence

Amit Shrivastava continued on the topic of digital twins. He said that operational excellence involves aligning people, processes, technologies, and capabilities to create a culture of continuous improvement. He spoke about business objectives, such as increasing equipment reliability and uptime; decreasing OpEx and CapEx costs; optimizing resources and increasing manpower productivity; ensuring regulatory compliance and other benefits. The focus is on increasing efficiency, and digital twins are becoming a keystone in this  journey to achieve operational excellence. The key processes towards Industry 4.0 transformation has to be part of the operational excellence strategy, he said. Companies are leveraging digital twins to make informed decisions and provide a digital line of sight for productive workflows. Further, he spoke about the convergence of IT/OT/ET (information, operations, and engineering technologies). Mapping the digital journey, Mr. Shrivastava said that the five stages are:

  • Organize/execute (CMMS – computerized maintenance management system)
  • Improve (asset reliability)
  • Manage configuration (IM – information management)
  • Optimize (operational insights)
  • Visualize and maintain information  (evergreen digital twin)
digital twins

Case Studies

ArcelorMittal, a steel manufacturing company, faced numerous challenges: old plant, aging workforce, poor availability, and very large inventory. According to the user, by implementing Bentley’s AssetWise APM reliability software the company saw a 23 percent increase in availability; 12 percent increase in production ft/hr; 13 percent decrease in operating cost/hr; between $600,000 and $800,000 savings in parts usage due to less reactive work; over $200,000 reduction in contract labor due to a more effective and efficient internal work force.

BP Khazzan, an oil and gas company, wanted seamless migration of asset lifecycle information – for operational readiness from the design phase through construction into operations. The customer reported that by deploying Bentley’s digital twin and connected data environment solutions, the company started production ahead of schedule and under budget; reduced information search time by 30 percent; reduced data exchange time by 70 percent;  and improved efficiency of document coordination by 25 percent.

Cairn-Vedanta Oil and Gas has over 850 aging oil and gas wells in India that harbor risk factors affecting flow rate and well performance. The company required a flexible digital platform to automate well integrity and flow assurance management across all assets. According to Cairn-Vedanta, Bentley’s digital twin solution, with its 4D Analytics Platform and the connected data environment, has reduced the potential for uncontrolled fluid release and improved flow assurance, saving around $1.2 million per year. Further, Shrivastava spoke about how to build a digital twin, third-party collaboration, and the related applications. 


The two presentations at ARC India’s virtual Forum showcased Bentley Systems’ expertise and offerings to all stakeholders at different stages in the digital transformation journey. The multiple case studies across geographies drove home the point that digital twins facilitate operational excellence. The company ranks high in several related ARC Advisory Group research reports, including  #1 for asset & network performance for reliability software.

With its global footprint, innovative solutions, and collaborative efforts, Bentley Systems is well-positioned to architect a connected and digitalized business landscape using digital twins and other advanced technologies.


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Keywords: Bentley Systems, ARC India Virtual Forum, Digital Twins, Operational Excellence, IT/OT/ET, ARC Advisory Group.

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