C+S May 2021 Vol. 7 Issue 5 (web)

We are deploying digital twins – a digital representation of a real- world entity or system – in a growing number of industries to improve products, processes, and performance, the benefits of which include increased efficiency and reduced costs. In fact, the global market for digital twins is expected to grow by more than a third (38 percent) an- nually to reach $16 billion by 2023, according to MarketsandMarkets. Companies in asset-heavy sectors such as oil and gas, aerospace, auto- motive and industrial products are increasingly leveraging digital twin technology to transform production, and it is also now being piloted in the retail, healthcare, and smart city fields. However, in terms of real-world applications, the more traditional in- frastructure industry is only just scratching the surface of what we can do with this technology. It may feel like stepping into the unknown for many, but companies are making digital twins work for them in pow- erful ways. By learning from these various applications, businesses across the infrastructure sector can gain a competitive edge and start to roll out projects more effectively. Here are just some of the ways that digital twins are currently being employed: 1. Improving safety There are a lot of mission critical tasks that operatives in the oil and gas industry must learn before they can work on a rig. Comprehensive training is therefore required to give people a thorough understanding of all the necessary procedures before they set foot on a newly built rig, or one they haven’t worked on before. The same is true for many ar- eas of our infrastructure, such as metros and airports where passenger movement and safety is always in constant balance with operations and maintenance workers and their daily activities. Use of digital twins is helping these workers carry out their safety inductions virtually. This can include everything from how to handle day-to-day operations to managing emergency situations. For example, if there’s a fire, what steps would someone need to take to put it out? Carrying out simulated training in this way removes risk, by only put- ting staff in potentially dangerous situations once they are fully ready to deal with them. There are also cost-saving benefits because compa- nies don’t need to prepare physical training scenarios. Instead, people are trained quickly, conveniently, and safely in the virtual environ- ment. Training sessions can even be expanded to include scenarios that would be difficult, expensive, or impossible to replicate physically. For complex systems like railroads and metros, rehearsal and preplan- ning of maintenance tasks can also be supported through use of a Three Ways Digital Twins Are Transforming Other Industries Right Now By Richard Leslie

digital twin to optimize the time needed onsite during the critical non- revenue period. Virtual rehearsal ensures proper processes, planning, and safety precautions have been prepared, and the necessary tools and equipment are assured for accessibility and correct function, before physically being deployed on site. 2. Maintenance Efficiency Imagine an engineer set out to perform critical repairs on a railway has been briefed about a problem with the track that needs resolving. But, when they arrive, the problem turns out to be very different to the one they were expecting. And, even worse, it requires specialist knowledge or expertise they just don’t have. Under typical circumstances, the engineer would have to postpone the repair, rescheduling to accom- modate additional briefings or even bringing additional experts to the jobsite. This means two site visits instead of one and extended outage time on the line. Now imagine that same situation with the benefit of a digital twin. No matter the issue, the right person would then be able to see a digital representation of the railway, talk the engineer through the problem, and help them to solve it. Furthermore, by using a mixed reality head- set such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, specialists can mark up the specific parts of the equipment to pay close attention to – all in real-time. No repeat visits, no deferring to dusty user manuals, and the right person for the job without physically needing to be there. SNC-Lavalin is using this technology in industries from nuclear to civil infrastructure and construction, to vehicle maintenance activities on a rail system. And we are only just scratching the surface of possible use



may 2021

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