Our Vision

The concept of digital twins and the methods behind their development support organisations in managing their asset-related automation and digitalisation requirements throughout the lifecycle of the facilities they operate. The concept can be reflected by an infinity loop and improves what is already available.

The technologies and models behind digital twins aren’t new. Often, organisations have already developed and used components that can be reused inside a digital twin. What’s new is the approach of developing and using the components in a more integrated way. This results in benefits that are beyond what individual components can deliver. Behind the components are models and data that deliver value through software applications.

Using integrated models to improve, develop, and operate physical assets is useful throughout the lifecycle of physical assets. We can represent this lifecycle with an infinity loop. The development of the future asset (including changes and extensions to it) are on the right side, and the operation of the existing asset is on the left.

It's typically useful to reuse some of the models from the development phase during the operational phase. Typical examples include 3D models, piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs), asset registers, and simulation models. This is what’s reflected with the infinity loop not stopping in the middle. Both sides are connected, and data and information flows from one side to the other. What applies to data and models used during the development phase into the operational phase also applies the other way around. With proper change procedure management, the as-built static models will have been maintained for smaller modifications making it easier to use them for brownfield project purposes.

The flow in the infinity loop isn’t necessary along the line of the loop. Either side of the infinity loop can be circled a number of times before the other side is activated.

The left part is typically circled many times before a major change is required and applied to the physical asset in a brownfield project. It follows the Deming circle approach where the things you learn from asset operations are used to improve future operations. This can be through an automated online process, like when applying artificial intelligence, but also using offline models where process data is fed in and the outcome is provided as advice to operators for evaluation and implementation.

The right part is often also circled a number of times before the final design is translated into an as-built asset. This is not only related to the different phases in a capital project, but potentially also to a specific phase in the project, especially when more detailed information becomes available.

Interest is growing in both integrated models and standards, as these make it easier to achieve the integration in specific projects. That’s because the standards will have been developed with integration in mind, and will have proven their value in the projects and experiences they’re based on.

Developing and using standards for digital twin development is an important factor in the successful implementation and adoption of what digital twins promise to deliver.