The promise of digital twins: What makes a digital twin effective?

Posted: May 16, 2024

With a digital twin, you can adapt to the reality of our increasingly connected world with insight into your entire operation. An effective digital twin will give you industrial intelligence across the lifecycle of a manufacturing or processing operation, from design to operation and optimization. A digital twin connects and contextualizes comprehensive data sets from all information sources across the industrial ecosystem, helping you to innovate and make more informed decisions.

What is a digital twin?

There are countless confusing interpretations of what an industrial digital twin is. But, put simply: A digital twin is a digital representation of a physical object, process, service, or environment that behaves and looks like its real-world counterpart.

The intelligent digital twin

At AVEVA, our digital twin includes a combination of all possible data sets (engineering and operations) with enhanced first principle models and/or AI, which are visualized throughout the enterprise in a fit-for-purpose format.

So let’s talk about the three components of a digital twin: Data, models and analytics, and enterprise visualization. Digital twins incorporate a variety of data sources, including monitoring and control from automation systems. All business data should be considered part of the digital twin and must be incorporated seamlessly, with solutions to connect workers. This can include:

  • Living data from the monitoring and control aspects of automation systems
  • Raw data—including engineering and operations, real-time and historical—from process equipment, utility systems and other external sources
  • Any other information that may be relevant, such as equipment design, market prices, environmental conditions, business indicators and consumer behavior.

This contextualized engineering and operations data is then enhanced with first principle modeling and/or analytics and AI to get deeper insight into the challenges you’re facing. Analytics and AI form the “brain” of the digital twin. The analytics layer enables the digital twin to move beyond a static, real-time representation of the asset or process to forecast how the asset or process will behave in the future given a set of variables.

With a fit-for-purpose visualization experience, companies gain a holistic view of their assets or processes. This visual representation enables stakeholders to monitor real-time performance, identify patterns, and analyze data effectively to consider next steps. Prescriptive analytics tools with actionable insights enable companies to make data-driven decisions and act in time to prevent production disruptions and drive continuous improvement. By connecting workers across the entire plant, companies can increase collaboration, confident that everyone is sharing the same connected single source of truth.

Value from the get-go: Digital twins in the design phase

While many people know digital twins are useful in the operational phase, a digital twin can start providing value much earlier, in the initial design phase. Although live data won’t be available, data such as process requirements and constraints can help with tasks such as energy monitoring, mass balance calculations and projected throughput. This data-centric approach can reduce install costs of projects and improve the control, visibility, and trust in the EPC process.

The adoption of a data-centric approach improves visibility and control from capital project phase to plant start-up. EPCs can spend less time on design rework and delivery is more likely to be on schedule and on budget. 

Real-time insights: Digital twins in the operations phase

With access to real-time and historical data, the asset operator can compare, model, and derive insights from actual behavior. This data empowers your workforce, improving productivity, reducing unnecessary work, enhancing reliability, and ensuring compliance with safety regulations.

Increased efficiency and reliability: Digital twins in the optimization phase

As digital twins model real-time operations, users can manage the gap between the current status and objectives. With access to real-time, historical, and modeled data, users gain a deep understanding of operating conditions. Future behavior can be predicted, preventing unplanned downtime and production losses.

AI can give insight into improvement opportunities such as minimizing waste, reducing energy consumption, and improving production efficiency, enabling businesses to confidently meet their sustainability KPIs.

AVEVA’s intelligent digital twin solutions

Many of our customers have already started their digital twin journey. Some have multiple siloed digital twin and cloud solutions to deal with improvement opportunities throughout the plant. Imagine the possibilities of connecting all that data—cleansed, consolidated and aggregated. With data in context, you can identify improvement opportunities for other use cases and maximize the investment you have already made.

AVEVA provides an open and neutral platform where you can integrate all these initiatives. With one seamless environment, you can collect data throughout your organization, regardless of its origin. We are experts in transforming data into insight and we add models and analytics with prescriptive guidance for actionable insight. Our intelligent digital twin framework consists of:

  • Comprehensive connectivity for collecting, consolidating, aggregating and contextualizing engineering, operations and business data
  • First principle, AI and/or machine learning models
  • Enterprise, fit-for-purpose visualization both on- and off-site
  • A flexible and hybrid approach, with solutions on premises, in the cloud or both
  • Modular architecture enabling users to start a digital twin anywhere and build and scale as needed.

With AVEVA you can start anywhere in the industrial lifecycle—from design and build to operate and optimize. A modular approach enables fast ROI so your pilot will give you the confidence to scale. One digital experience will enable innovation with faster, more informed decisions, taking your business to the next level.

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