How to automate your way to a low-carbon future with digital twins

How to automate your way to a low-carbon future with digital twins

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

We’re in the midst of a paradigm change in the energy industry, and it’s being driven in part by digital twin technology.

The shift has been rapid. Five years ago, we would hear, ‘What is a digital twin? Why should I invest in that? I’ve been doing it my way for 20 years’. But what we’re hearing now is leaders in the industry asking us how they can use digital twins.

The C-suite is starting to understand the value of twins because, at the fundamental level, this is not about a digital technology, it is about a business strategy. At boardroom level the conversation has moved from ‘Why is this imperative?’ to ‘How this is imperative for us’.

However, there is still much work to be done.

There remains reluctance and scepticism in the industry. It’s understandable: any new technology that radically changes and automates processes takes a lot of company buy-in, and investment.

The reality is stark, though: you can choose to embrace digital twin technology, be a leader in the new way of operating, and drive the new industry standards, or you can choose to say you won’t modernise. Choose the second option, and you’re getting left behind and moving the problem further into the future, when the transition will have to be more rapid, more difficult, and more expensive.

With digital twins, the future is now.

Simulating the great transition

As the world looks to go net zero for a greener, better future, the energy sector’s transition from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources is necessary, and urgent. Digital twins and a unified way of doing work are highly critical to this transition.

The energy transition is being driven by stakeholder expectations. Companies need to better account for how much they’re offsetting carbon and how successfully they’re transitioning to tools that have a lower carbon footprint. All of this will be heavily scrutinised by stakeholders.

To meet stakeholder expectations, you must have visibility, and you need that visibility in real time so you can provide transparency. Digital twins deliver transparency because they converge information in one place and deliver accurate, real-time reporting.

Automating the industry

The prevalence of ESG requirements poses a financial risk in investment opportunities. Digital twins offset this, which is why we will see them becoming an integrated part of the operating model in the energy sector over the next five years.

If you’re seeking a multi-million dollar investment for a series of facilities, the financial community will ask for ESG goals to be baked in, and shareholders will ask for their returns to be associated with their sustainability values. Those pressures must also be aligned with the new assets returning positive cashflow.

This means funding for assets will have an inherent need to be digital from day one; it is no longer a choice.

Companies will be expected to have full control of their emissions at all times. This is achievable through a more data-driven, machine learning, and AI environment, with a prevalence of data scientists to analyse the information. By automating and optimising processes, and with assets managed remotely, you can work more efficiently and shift from the day-to-day operations to big-picture, analytical work.

On a five-year horizon, that’s where you will see a major change: org charts will shift to more analytical workers, with a significant increase in automated processes and better business support for people.

Work from the ground up

Automation can be a scary word for many. So, the C-suite can’t just go in and force automation on a workforce. You need buy-in from the likes of engineers, maintenance, management, operators, third-party contractors, and risk analysts.

The automation, digital, and business strategy must be communicated effectively and clearly by leaders so that it cascades through the business. Our job at Kongsberg Digital is to stimulate this from the ground up, which means we spend a lot of time at task-level showing the workforce what they can do to improve processes task by task.

When spending time at task-level, we’ve veered away from talking about digital twins because of the in-built negative perception some people have of the term. Instead, we introduce our Kognitwin product as a unified work surface.

Kognitwin is a global environment for all of a company’s assets. It integrates with all data sources and creates a simulation of the facilities and their behaviours. We’ve built it so that it works with different types of analytics models, and stops workers having to take manual steps. Users can collaborate and connect for operation and maintenance purposes, and enjoy deeper insights and dynamic simulations. All necessary information is at their fingertips in one single environment.

Once your workforce sees the positive results and clear benefits, they become advocates for change, spreading throughout the industry. With momentum like that, digital twins will become an unstoppable force for good.

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

How to automate your way to a low-carbon future with digital twins

Morten Hansen

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