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Digital twins

Digital Twins Offer a Safer Future

In health, safety, and environment departments, technology can help mitigate risk and drive efficiency.

Each year, work-related accidents claim the lives of more than 2 million people around the world. These incidents can result from varying factors such as equipment failure, work environment, or human error. Workplace accidents keep happening because predictive models cannot account for all areas of risk.

With the many personal and business-related implications created by these catastrophic work-related incidents, implementing protective measures is critical—especially in traditionally higher-risk industries such as oil and gas, marine, nuclear, renewable energy, manufacturing, and transport.

But as technology continues to evolve in the era of Industry 4.0 and as manufacturers push innovation in health, safety, and environment (HSE) solutions, there are new opportunities to leverage existing technologies for HSE use cases.

Digital Twins for HSE for Plant Managers

While digital twins have been available in the factory for years, recent advancements in cloud and IoT technologies allows these digital models to be more exact than ever. As a result, plant managers have an inside look into more accurate data, which enables them to create next-generation predictive analytics models that can predict when an accident might happen, and under what circumstances.

At the same time, the manufacturing skills gap is growing. Deloitte predicts the skills gap may leave an estimated 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028. This creates a need for knowledge transfer between employees who have more experience and those new to the field. Creating a digital twin of a manufacturing plant for health and safety purposes allows that knowledge to be catalogued digitally and enables new employees to train in a safe space to minimize risk. This is important in all plants but is especially critical in high-risk industries.

Working with IoT and cloud computing, digital twins can help plant managers identify and prevent risks before they become an incident.

Digital Twins for HSE for Plant Owners

Beyond the immediate people-centric benefits plants can realize from implementing digital twins for HSE purposes, plant owners can also see significant improvements in the bottom line due to cost and production efficiencies.

Employee and machine downtime is incredibly costly: upwards of billions of dollars. In 2017 alone, the National Safety Council estimates the total cost of work injuries was $161.5 billion. On top of that, one survey found that a single hour of downtime can cost a plant more than $100,000 in personnel, equipment, and materials.

With the comprehensive view provided by a digital twin, plant owners can increase asset uptime by at least 20%, cut inspection and maintenance costs in half, and reduce equipment failure by as much as 95%.

Digital Twins for HSE in Practice

In this example from marine and offshore sector, a company wanted to ensure its approach to managing the integrity of process systems was up to date. However, there is a backlog of inspection reviews that have built up, which could potentially impact asset safety or production levels. The company would need to assess the current asset integrity management process assessment against industry best practices.

As a next step, the company would undergo a gap analysis and integrate the findings into a project plan that identified poor or missing procedures, reports that lacked clarity and priority, and an ad hoc approach to project and anomaly management.

From there, the company would implement a risk model solution. When fully implemented, this would result in improved integrity management and inspection planning, as it will enable the company to identify the high critical items and manage the integrity risk effectively.

Additional benefits could include:

  • Cleared backlog and increased productivity
  • More effective and secure document management
  • Identified priority activities
  • Reduced archiving costs and reporting time
  • No significant failures
  • Reduced risk for platforms globally

In an era where so much is changing in manufacturing—from technology to the makeup of the workforce—risk remains the one constant. To protect employees and physical assets, investment in digital twin technology allows management to better prepare for the unexpected.

Jim Stuart is SVP digital and software for Lloyd’s Register and has been leading technology companies for more than 20 years. His experience covers software product innovation, digital strategy development and implementation, business transformation, and operational excellence.

Mike Lackey has global responsibility for Solution Management, LoB Manufacturing for SAP. His knowledge covers both manufacturing software and design collaboration along with more than 20 years of experience in the manufacturing sector.

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