Informing Operations: evaluating the need to maintain complex process facility digital twins

Randell McNair
Muma Business Review  •  Volume 6  •  2022  •  pp. 021-051
During the design phase of major capital projects, information content about complex process facilities is created and used to model how the facility will operate once completed. In the Oil and Gas (O&G) sector, this digital design data is referenced to plan material orders, stage testing, and track commissioning of the facility components. It can also inform decisions related to construction, installation, and ongoing operational activities of these facilities across multiple locations around the world. Training the workforce to build and maintain this content in the operational context is one of the critical infrastructure challenges of the Industry 4.0 digital transformation. This empirical findings study evaluated a large integrated petrochemical process industry (PcPI) firm as it struggled to understand the need to manage three-dimensional (3D) design models as digital twins after custody of facilities transitioned from project to operations. Results from an exploratory case study at that firm were compared to a transcript of a project kickoff meeting hosted by process industry standards organization. Consistent themes and recommendations surfaced across both sessions and validated findings. Understanding how firms in this sector perceive the need to manage 3D models as digital twins throughout the facility lifecycle supports the need to determine the informing value of this important category of digital assets.
3D Model, Digital Twins, Information Management, Industry 4.0, Visualization, Value, Lifecycle, Maintenance, Oil & Gas, Process
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