In its latest “Hype Cycle for Emerging
Gartner says that a digital twin is a virtual representation of a real object that is designed to optimize the operation of assets. We used to call these things simulations, models, prototypes or mock-ups. We never asserted that they were a replacement for the analog world they loosely modeled. Unfortunately, digital twin hype is loudly making these assertions.
Digital twins are advertised as using artificial intelligence and machine learning alongside other “yet to be clearly defined” techniques to create digital avatars that change and develop alongside the physical aspect being modelled. These are starting to sound more and more like Boeing’s approach to the flight control software in the 737 Max. We know the end of that story!
Athens Group Services has utilized and developed IP for Hardware in the Loop (HIL) testing. HIL has the potential to be a cost effective and valuable tool in the design, construction and acceptance of highly integrated drilling and production asset control systems. In order to realize this potential, you, the asset owners, must work closely with your OEMs to focus on defect prevention and integrate the use of HIL into the entire system lifecycle, starting with the design and development of the integrated control system.
Implemented correctly by the OEM and verified by a qualified independent third party when necessary, HIL significantly improves the quality of the delivered control systems and provide the owner confidence that upon acceptance, the system will perform safely and reliably. Once completed, HIL and be reused to evaluate the current and proposed operations of the asset and be the benchmark against which new upgrades are measured.
Why do you care?
Digital Twins are being promoted as a replacement for HIL testing, sensor certification and basic performance modeling of equipment processes; e.g. automated drilling, stand building and tripping.
You cannot have a digital twin unless your hardware OEM builds one for you. You cannot have a complete digital twin unless your entire asset is modeled. A Topdrive or DP digital twin is worthless if you are trying to model/simulate your asset in order to identify and reduce NPT. How long is this going to take your subsystem vendors to build? And, who’s going to pay for it?
What can you do about it?
Don’t get caught up in the hype. If someone is trying to sell you a “digital twin” ask for the following:
- A digital twin demo on your current asset using your equipment set;
- Measures of how much process improvement was made on an existing asset using this digital twin;
- Quantified cost and schedule savings on the last use of the digital twin on a similar asset; and
- Estimated improvements on your asset with all digital twin payments tied to hitting those performance targets.