Now that I have provided a simple overview of what the digital twin can be and covered integrated engineering and all its related tools, I wanted to end this series with a more in-depth description of the integrated operations approach. These three areas tie together very closely to offer a wide range of digitalization-related benefits to both engineering, operation and maintenance.
As mentioned in my post about integrated engineering, a single database with interfaces to various operations and maintenance systems is really the way to go in the age of digitalization. This allows for actions and activities to be more quickly and easily executed because data can be shared between various tools and functionalities. It also makes it possible to use data analytics to potentially find new connections and contexts between data points, which were not previously known.
What is the power of a single database?
Integrated operation takes these benefits beyond the engineering phase and into the daily operation and maintenance of a process plant. Thanks to the single database and a strong network infrastructure, data flows seamlessly between the Distributed Controls System (DCS); field devices, such as sensors, motors, and pumps; and the digital twin of the plant. If an issue arises with a field device, for instance, the operator can send a maintenance order to a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) through a direct interface with the DCS. The maintenance personnel can pull this work order and see all the details of the asset that requires service.
I cannot find my way around this place – can the DT help?
Imagine being in a very large petrochemical facility that covers hundreds of acres and trying to locate a particular asset that needs service. That can be challenging, but this is where the digital twin of the plant can come in handy. By running a search query based on the tag number, maintenance personnel can use 2D or even 3D representations of the plant to see exactly where the asset is located. The data to make this possible is pulled directly from the database and combined with the tagging in the DCS, which is a powerful example of connecting various data sources.
The tag has been located – now what?
The maintenance engineer has saved himself a good amount of time by using the digital twin to locate the troubled asset. Now that he has started working on troubleshooting the issue, he can take advantage of another benefit made possible by data integration. He can use the mobile version of his CMMS software loaded onto his tablet to access relevant data for the asset he is servicing. This includes the maintenance history, notes added by colleagues from previous work orders, manuals, drawings, and much more. And if he finds out that the device needs to be replaced, after installing it, he can update the CMMS with all relevant data such as make, model, part number, serial number, etc., which flows right back into the master database to keep the digital twin current. Imagine being in a very large petrochemical facility that covers hundreds of acres and trying to locate a particular asset that needs service. That can be challenging, but this is where the digital twin of the plant can come in handy. By running a search query based on the tag number, maintenance personnel can use 2D or even 3D representations of the plant to see exactly where the asset is located. The data to make this possible is pulled directly from the database and combined with the tagging in the DCS, which is a powerful example of connecting various data sources.
Even the hotline is integrated.
Despite having all the right documentation readily available where and when it is needed, in some instances, it still may be necessary to call the manufacturer for help. If the tablet of the onsite service technician is installed with the proper software, the manufacturer’s technician, who is located remotely, can call in to the tablet and take advantage of several benefits:
- A real-time video feed, which ensures that both technicians are seeing the same thing, so nothing is lost “in translation.”
- The ability to highlight what is seen on the video and write notes that will be overlaid on the tablet screen for the onsite technician to see.
Having this remote capability combined with access to relevant plant data information in the field has some real potential to resolve issues much faster and more efficiently. This could ultimately result in less equipment downtime – and that’s where the big savings are.
So no, integrated operation is certainly not a pie in the sky – is it as real as it gets and provides numerous benefits to any operator of a process plant or facility.
Do you have the technology in place to make your maintenance and operation mobile?
Find more information about integrated operation, the digital twin and other digitalization topics. Or watch this video that explains the concept of integrated operation in more detail.