Our industry is at a tipping point

Jesús Pacheco, executive vice president of Technology & Innovation explains how digitalization is impacting our business and how it will help our clients.

Ever-evolving technology is changing the way we work, and creating new opportunities to work smarter.

But how is it impacting our business, and how will it help our clients?

At the heart of this paradigm shift is the digitalization of our business processes and equipment. We can now digitally represent or “digitalize” an entire equipment train in minute detail. Everything from the application environment, to the compressor or gas turbine package components and their auxiliary systems, right down to the nuts and bolts of a compressor can be digitalized. And we can do this interactively at our clients’ offices. The result? Shorter cycle times, lower costs, highest accuracy, and enhanced product quality along the entire value stream.

So what exactly is digitalization? And how can we optimize oil and gas assets through digitalization looking at the total life cycle of a project?

We do this by creating a digital model, or “digital twin.” The digital twin is the digitalization and integration of all data and knowledge acquired during the life cycle of an asset.

Thus, the digital twin is more than a design tool; it’s more than a punch list of parts to fabricate, and it’s more than the 3D model we create when we develop the solution. It’s the joining of the physical and digital worlds as the asset moves through the three phases of a project: (1) design and configure; (2) build; and (3) operate.

Phase One – Design and Configure

The entire life cycle of a project benefits from the digital twin, beginning with phase one which starts with our client’s planning process and then moves into solution design and configuration.

Core to the digital twin is a central database of all project knowledge. The more data we put in, the more accurate the model becomes, enabling us to visualize the entire asset. The configured compressor, gas turbine, E-house or module can be seen on-screen. This ability to configure, “see” and interact with the asset gives our clients incredible advantages such as the ability to change configuration or arrangement as well as visualize equipment maintainability, footprint and overall dimensions. It also creates value by allowing our clients to change operating conditions (do “what if” scenario analysis) and see the resulting performance in minutes. This capability drives operating cost optimization before they move into the build phase, and much before where this optimization most often takes place – during the operate phase.

The digital twin eliminates the design, engineering and manufacturing silos, bringing the workflow together. It allows our clients to design and configure their solutions with us, concurrently. It dramatically reduces the cycle time that the design phase of a project used to take – from six or nine months, or even up to a year – to days or a few weeks.

The savings our clients realize in this first phase are measurable in terms of reduced engineering costs and lower CAPEX because we can quickly and accurately change configurations and optimize the solution to minimize total installed costs.

Phase Two – Build
The digitalization of the first phase of the project also minimizes the risk of hand-off mistakes and expensive changes as we move into phase two – the build phase. In this phase, we go into production and manufacturing, where the digital world joins the physical world.

So how does the digital twin facilitate the build phase?

Since the digital twin is already the engineered solution, we can now reduce production cycle times by months. For example, we can produce compressors and gas turbine packages in as few as six to nine months, compared to 12 to 14 months without the aid of the digital twin. Project schedule risks decline, and perhaps most importantly, commercial operation can begin sooner allowing clients to generate return on their investments faster.

During the build phase, we will interact with our clients on a digital platform via progress reports, virtual inspections and document / drawing reviews and approvals. Virtual test witnessing is also available. All of these improvements reduce our clients’ costs.

But we can deliver additional benefits through digitalization…

Imagine training your operations and maintenance (O&M) personnel before the asset is on location; before it even ships from our factories. This is now possible through a virtual “walk inside” of the compressor train, gas turbine package, E-house, or module. Clients can locate valves, panels and process equipment like coolers, separators and filters in the digital twin and familiarize themselves with the switchgear and other electrical equipment. And they can simulate a start-up sequence on a computer screen.

The opportunity to run various simulations and conduct “what if” scenarios enables O&M personnel to react in the safest and most effective way on-site as required.

Again, think of the tremendous value this creates. By the time the asset reaches its final location, the O&M team is completely familiar with the equipment.

Phase Three – Operate
Digitalization continues to enhance our processes into the final phase of the project’s life cycle – operation.

The digital twin already has all the configuration, design, manufacturing, and other project data, including the baselines from factory testing, bills of material, spare parts, and O&M documentation. And it continues to receive data as the asset is operating and maintained. Our Services organization leverages the design and build engineering data residing in the digital twin and applies in-depth analytics to the actual field data. Because of this, clients can monitor changing site conditions, predict equipment failures before they occur, plan outages, manage inventories, and optimize equipment performance. They can also model how the equipment will perform if site conditions – flows, pressure, temperatures, gas composition – change before these changes occur.

This is how digitalization positively impacts our business, bringing even more value to clients, and to our company. And it all began with the creation of the digital twin.

Industry 4.0 is here and it’s the real world today.

Tags: Digital Twin, Digitalization

other articles from insights issue 06.2017