Digital Twins for a Digital Maintenance Work Culture

By Matt Newton, AVEVA

Successful manufacturers of the future will need to embrace digital maintenance technology to remain competitive in their industry. Digital transformation empowers people, improves profitability and return on capital across the operations and asset lifecycle. These smart manufacturers manifest stunningly accurate digital twins of equipment, production lines and even full-scale plants and the processes within them. But beyond the digitalization of pumps, compressors, equipment and hardware, these companies have a laser focus on their most valuable assets – their people. And the smartest companies are investing in the right kind of labor – less for muscle and more for brains – whether they are sitting in a remote monitoring center or onsite to do work.

For enterprises to successfully adopt digital transformation they must embrace these new autonomous assets and adopt a new way of performing work. A methodology that augments and empowers the traditional human worker with digital tools that enable humans to work more efficiently, accurately and safely. At the core of this enablement is the digital twin.

Digital twins create a single real-time truth that describes the health and efficiency of assets and operations. Through asset performance management the digital twin provides new value in the form of understanding the health and contribution of a given piece of machinery. However, it’s only when human assets are augmented with the necessary technology to visualize and interact with the digital twin that it delivers the greatest value possible. Combining technologies like predictive analytics, augmented and virtual reality, and mobility with the core technology digital twins provide enables workers to perform their tasks with greater efficiency, accuracy and safety.

Using the digital twin of an asset, workers can compare how the asset has performed in the past with how it’s currently performing now. Powered by machine learning and advanced pattern recognition, predictive analytics software enables workers to peer into the future of that asset’s performance and identify how it degrades over time. This increased visibility reduces rounds for routine system checks and allows operators to monitor vast fleets of industrial assets from a centralized monitoring facility.

This insight allows workers such as maintenance engineers to schedule downtime and repair service at the most economically advantageous time for the business. And that directly correlates to providing a better user and customer experience. Efficiently scheduling downtime can have a major impact on improving customer outcomes and the overall profitability of the enterprise. But performing work accurately during those times is also critical. One of the solutions available through digital transformation to aid in that effort is augmented maintenance and operations.

Augmented operations and maintenance empowers teams of workers to excel in their tasks. By connecting control room operators, maintenance and remote personnel in a single realistic 3D virtual environment, teams can collaborate in real-time to resolve problems faster. With a goal to minimize downtime, augmented reality can provide contextualized insight on processes and procedures and guide technicians through the proper execution of tasks for startup and maintenance of equipment.

By augmenting human workers with digital technology such as mobile phone and tablets, maintenance teams can receive lockout/tagout information in real-time with contextualized overlays of equipment that needs to be worked on versus equipment that is not currently safe to service. 2D and 3D navigable visualizations of equipment and plants allow teams to virtually inspect the operational health of the plant, equipment and machinery. Information transparency throughout the enterprise enables real time situational awareness to keep the most important assets safe – the people.

Click here to learn more about creating a digital work culture.