Digital twin: Guiding asset owners to overcome common pitfalls

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Rob Kennedy
Global Head​ of Digital Twin –​ Full Asset Lifecycle​

Owners and operators of assets in the energy and materials sectors are increasingly looking to digital twins to help them optimise the operation of their facility, improve safety and environmental performance, and increase profitability. But, as many operators are learning, the path to unlocking lasting value from their assets’ data has many twists and turns.

Earlier this month at AVEVA World 2022 in San Francisco, Rob Kennedy – Global Head of Digital Twin – discussed Wood’s full asset lifecycle approach and how we apply our expertise to guide our clients to overcome common challenges and maximise the value realised over the lifecycle.

Challenge 1 - Clients have a digital strategy but don’t know how to turn it into action

Asset owners and operators are demanding an increased level of digitalisation, and many have invested in creating a holistic digital strategy for their asset or business. But clients often find it difficult to turn what they have on a page into real value.

We use our unparalleled expertise to quickly bridge the gap between the high-level vision and the reality of successfully implementing a digital transformation on the ground. Our reputation for deep domain knowledge, experience of our client’s assets and processes, and knowledge of the associated challenges means we can transform digital strategy into reality by adopting our unique digital twin methodology.

Challenge 2 - Project teams are required to deliver a digital twin but don’t know how to implement it successfully

Across industry we are seeing an increasing requirement for project teams to build and handover a digital twin alongside the physical asset. But in many cases, clients’ project teams are unsure how to implement and deliver a digital twin that meets the needs of operating teams.

Here we can guide them through the process or, where appropriate, lead the implementation of the digital twin to enable the project team to focus on the design and build of the physical asset. In both cases we apply our vast operating experience to give adequate focus to the operational challenges, ensuring there is shared ownership from operations. Our end-to-end approach means we remain a strategic partner throughout the strategy and implementation phases and on into operations, supporting adoption to realise value.

Challenge 3 - Existing investments in information and solutions are not generating the promised return on investment

An increasing number of asset operators have made significant investments in digitising their assets and deploying digital twin solutions but are still waiting for the promised return on investment to materialise.

We start by understanding how users are utilising existing solutions in their day-to-day work whilst immersing ourselves in the associated business processes and procedures, identifying challenges, gaps and blockers. We then craft initiatives to accelerate the release of value. This often includes transforming the underlying business processes and procedures while supporting users to adopt new ways of working. This resonates highly with clients who may have best-in-class systems but are yet to realise tangible value.

Challenge 4 - Information is not trusted and going out of date

Related to the challenge above, we often find that information is not trusted by those who rely on it – either because they know it to be out of date, or they are unsure of its provenance. We put the processes and procedures in place to update, assure and validate the data and enable people to query and request updated data where required.

By delivering trusted and reliable data to users who need it, we support robust and rapid decision making and ensure that the digital twin becomes an invaluable tool adopted by all users – without which it’s impossible to deliver lasting value.

Challenge 5 - Clients are becoming fatigued by technology

It’s perhaps not surprising that we see many of our clients have become cynical about technology, particularly if they have experienced a digital initiative that has failed to deliver the promised outcomes.

Our experience has taught us that people and process play just as important a role as technology in generating lasting value using a digital twin. Instead of focussing on the technology alone, we concentrate on the use cases that will deliver tangible business outcomes. We then bridge that gap, recommending the right technology needed to deliver the desired outcome, where possible leveraging existing data and systems to maximising the return on investment.

While our approach can’t solve every challenge, our expertise can help overcome the most common pitfalls and add value where it counts most. We’re able to draw upon a wealth of lifecycle experience across Wood, as well having the ability to draw upon our technology partners for platforms and ecosystems, to ensure we always deliver best-fit solutions for our client’s challenges.

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