Digital twins: The future is now

Digital twins: The future is now

November 22, 2022
Time to read: 8 minutes
Morten Hansen

Everyone has heard about digital twins. It's a big industry buzz term, and rightly so. But the term means different things to different people. At Kongsberg Digital (KDI), one of our tasks is to bring clarity around it in order for the industry to see its critical benefits.

Make no mistake, digital twins help energy companies become more productive, more efficient, save costs, and meet ESG goals. This isn't something for the future, however. It needs to be happening right now, because the energy transition is happening.

By 2050, the global energy sector aims to have shifted from fossil-based to zero-carbon. Rightly, there is an expectation at board, shareholder, and government level that energy companies have this transition as part of their processes and tools. What digital twins do is integrate entire portfolios into one digital space, bringing efficiency to processes.

At KDI that's our playing field right now. Simulation technology is breaking new ground, and it's very exciting. But it is also a challenge to demonstrate to companies that digital twins can bring value really quickly; many assume that seeing any benefit from digital twins will take a multi-year project.

The truth is, investing in digital twin technology will also deliver significant short-term benefits.

Smarter data, better simulation

A digital twin brings systems together and allows workflows to be run in one place. This is far more efficient than having to access 20 or 30 different applications, and it allows your organisation to start automating and augmenting.

Energy companies have a vast ocean of data that they can tap into, and it keeps expanding. But they don't necessarily gain much significant meaning from data at scale. By converging all of the main data sources into one platform, and getting tools deployed quickly, you can optimise your value chains, optimise your organisational structure, and increase productivity.

As well as driving efficiencies in data, digital twins allow companies to cater for the dynamic representation of a behaviour. This is crucial. If, for example, you want to ramp up 10 production wells, you need to accurately predict what's going to happen over a long time period. That is only achievable by simulating.

Being able to dynamically simulate the behaviour of a facility is becoming increasingly critical. Where once assets were ring-fenced, now companies switch between an ecosystem of assets and integrated systems, and that demand is only going to grow. For example, you might have carbon-capture facilities and hydrogen facilities, and maybe you'll also have offshore wind facilities.

Managing that ecosystem of assets will increase costs, unless you can accurately simulate their behaviours. Without digital twins, your costs will go up, your efficiency will decrease, and your organisation's productivity levels will become less competitive.

Short-term gains, long-term stability

Pivoting to digital twins won't only be beneficial in the long term. It will bring huge wins within the first 12 to 18 months.

Within the first year, you will have the twins deployed, and your workforce will be trained in and using their productivity-enabling capabilities. Cross-functional operating teams will be more collaborative.

You will be able to assess work orders, increase extensive planning, and improve remote scoping through remote access for employees and third-party contractors. Because your twin can survey your assets without engineers going on-site, you will have added efficiencies to your supply chain.

Simply, within 18 months your productivity will increase significantly.

Winning hearts and minds

As with any digital transformation, the path to success starts from the ground up.

The value proposition is easier to see from top down, but it's at ground level you've got to build the motivation; you've got to find the advocates amongst the people with hard hats. They must be advocates for the change.

That's how you start the transformation, because when the people who own the processes see the potential of digital twins, they will communicate among themselves about how to improve their processes across assets. Often this is mistaken for a soft gain, but you're talking about hundreds or thousands of people driving the automation of processes, and that allows them to shift their attention to the things they really want to work on: production optimisation, energy optimisation, and reduced downtime.

This is all achievable in the first 18 months, but it is vital that you first get the people involved and bring them along with you. They must be champions of change because they hold the keys to it.

Introducing Kognitwin

At KDI, we are constantly looking to support our customers to drive efficiencies, save costs, innovate, and create a better future for the planet.

Kognitwin is our unified work surface that integrates with your data sources, builds a simulation of your facilities and their behaviours, and creates an environment that drives the data to the end users. For example, if you are a maintenance engineer responsible for the heat exchanger in the field, you can zoom in on that and get all of your data from there. The analytics are served up as you need them, with real-time information flowing through to you.

We create a global environment for all of your assets and help you implement it very quickly so you start can start your transition. It's not a transactional relationship, we partner with you, helping you to get buy-in from the ground up and supporting your journey to a greener, more efficient future.

That journey shouldn't be delayed. It's time to embrace the digital twin, for short-term gains and long-term benefits.

Learn more about kognitwin  

Imagine having access to all real-time data from the oil & gas asset in one place through a simple virtual interface. We call it Kognitwin®.

About the author

Digital twins: The future is now

Morten Hansen

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