The Advantage of Digital Twins in the Oil and Gas Industry

The concept of digital twinning was first theorized in 1991 by a computer scientist and writer, David Gelernter [1]. The concept he proposed was simple, to create a virtual copy of real-life objects that can respond to real-time changes. However, the implementation of such an idea was incredibly difficult due to the technological limitations of the 90’s and 00’s. As technology continued to advance, so did the concept of the digital twin, which is now influencing design processes around the world.

Until recently, digital twin technology within the Oil and Gas industry had only been utilized in “small” capacities. With an immense potential for impact and the increasing needs and capabilities of the industry, digital twinning is being utilized to create new and existing facilities.

As an example, when a Gas Processing Facility is being designed and constructed, there can be hundreds of sensors and transmitters throughout the facility that are responsible for relaying essential information to Operators including Pressure, Temperature and Flowrates. Vital to ensuring its safety and operation, these sensors and transmitters are able to connect their information back to a physical location. Utilizing various software solutions such as SCADA, PLC, HMI and RTU interfaces, operators can map out a virtual model of the facility by denoting the physical locations of the sensors and transmitters in relation to one another. The virtual model enables operators to accurately determine where an issue or concern is arising from and make real-time updates before entering the field.

As technology continues to advance, the capabilities of a digital twin have exploded with possibilities. Designers are now able to create 3D virtual copies of a facility before it is even built. Utilizing software applications such as AutoCAD, it is possible to provide millimeter accuracy when designing piping and process equipment. Some of the immediate benefits realized from these virtual products include:

  • The ability to make real-time, virtual design changes to illustrate concepts and provide spatial awareness as a project evolves.
  • Ability to generate a bill of materials for the entire project, thereby reducing excess materials being ordered in an effort to save capital.
  • Separate fabrication of individual components to save costs, as accurate measurements can be taken directly from the 3D model.

The evolution and implementation of digital twinning in the Oil and Gas industry continues to grow each year. Having a digital model of existing infrastructure enables SureLine Projects (SureLine) to propose innovative constructability solutions to our clients and ensure our team has the right data to execute projects safely and efficiently.

Our top of the line 3D Geospatial technology captures accurate as-built site conditions in a fraction of the time and expense required to traditionally measure mechanical retro-fit projects. As proven leaders in Canadian Energy Infrastructure construction, SureLine firmly believes modern technology combined with the experience and expertise of our team enables us to exponentially create value for our clients. With an array of benefits, digital twin technology provides our clients with:

  • Safety through reduced time in the field
  • Efficiency through effective pre-planning with all project stakeholders
  • Quality through supporting experienced personnel, with proven workflows and accurate data.
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