September 4, 2023

Digital Twins: Predictive Maintenance

Digital Twins: Predictive Maintenance

Imagine having a virtual twin with sophisticated analytical abilities, the power to run multiple simulations to predict the future, and a real-time mirroring capacity. Essentially an enhanced (cooler), digital replica of yourself. That’s what digital twins are. 


In a Nutshell 

Designed to be the virtual counterpart of a physical object or system, digital twins are tremendously useful in product design, product optimization, and predictive maintenance. Unlike simulations, digital twins can visualize far more complex environments and analyze multiple processes simultaneously.  

Digital twins constantly update and refresh with real-time data, gathered from the numerous sensors, IoT devices, and other sources equipped on the physical object or system. These sensors measure variables that affect the functionality of the physical asset such as temperature, humidity, and weather conditions.  

Once the data input is relayed from the sensors to the virtual model, valuable insights can be garnered from monitoring the digital twin. Operators obtain a comprehensive view of the physical asset while being able to analyze the intricacies of performance issues and optimization areas without having to be right next to the asset in question.  


Predictive Maintenance 

The benefits of digital twins are clear and widespread among many industries including oil and gas, manufacturing, aircraft and automobile production, engineering systems, and power utilities. Digital twins help achieve optimal efficiency by reducing unplanned downtime, increasing asset utilization, and improving safety and environmental performance. The cost and time savings are so great that according to a study conducted by Accenture, companies in industries like oil and gas can expect to save $1 million per day of unplanned downtime.  

Consequently, chief among the benefits of digital twins is its predictive analysis capabilities. In asset-intensive industries like oil and gas where an unexpected failure event can spell disaster, predictive maintenance is crucial.  

Digital twins have powerful asset management capabilities that channel real-time data to predict when repairs are needed so that failure events are significantly reduced. Coupled with data-driven insights and smart simulations that identify potential issues before they occur, pipeline operators can make informed decisions with ease. The safety, integrity, and reliability of a pipeline network is paramount – and a proactive approach through utilizing digital twins to detect early signs of corrosion, leaks, or other potential failure events can prove a very worthwhile investment. According to Boston Consulting Group, digital twins reduce capital expenditure, mitigate pipeline risks, contribute to environmental sustainability, and have a plethora of other competitive value drivers. [1] 


Applied: Using Digital Twins 

Companies like ExxonMobil have been open about utilizing digital twins to digitize their operations. In 2021, ExxonMobil signed an agreement with Kongsberg to leverage the collaborative and simulative abilities of Kongsberg’s digital twin platform (Kognitwin Energy) in ExxonMobil’s Guyana operations. [2] More recently, ExxonMobil has been exploring the notion of open digital twin standards and the possibility of building a digital reality ecosystem on open digital twins. [3] 


How Cenozon is Aiding 

Cenozon’s Pipeline Integrity Risk Manager (PIRM) is the industry-leading pipeline integrity management system. PIRM utilizes elements of digital twins to bring the power of predictive maintenance and analytics to pipeline operators.  

Take Control with PIRM 
  • Pipeline Incidents are Expensive: The PHMSA pipeline incidents reported between 2003-2022 had total average costs ranging from approximately $200 000 to upwards of 3.5 million. [4] 
  • Reduce your Risk: The two-year average incident rate related to corrosion for companies using PIRM for 5 years or more is 47% below the industry norm. 
Digital Thread: Delivering the Whole Picture 

PIRM enables operators to evaluate risk at a glance and exceed compliance requirements across entire networks. Powered by Cenozon’s Asset Connectivity Engine (ACE) – which generates a unique, holistic digital model – ACE connects disparate systems, reasons with fragmented data, and propels the extraction of insights from real-time, fully automated risk assessments. PIRM delivers the whole picture through an accessible, intuitive, and user-friendly dashboard.  


The Future of Digital Twins 

The future of digital twins is promising, especially with the recent surge in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Cognitive digital twins, enhanced with AI and ML algorithms that can augment virtual environments with intelligence (as compared to standard digital twins), are poised to redefine the way we interact with the physical world. In the future, we can envision a world where these digital doppelgängers become indispensable partners in decision-making, anticipating our needs, optimizing our processes, and making our lives safer, more efficient, and sustainable.