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Improving operations with Smart Digital Reality


Joseph El Bitar, vice president and general manager of Hexagon Asset Lifecycle Intelligence Division, outlines its “Smart Digital Reality” vision and how it can help customers achieve safe, sustainable and efficient operations

What was the rationale behind changing your company’s name from Hexagon PPM to Hexagon Asset Lifecycle Intelligence, and how does it reflect the company’s current vision?

Hexagon is a global leader in digital reality solutions, combining sensor, software and autonomous technologies. We are putting data to work to boost efficiency, productivity, quality and safety across industrial, manufacturing, infrastructure, public sector, and mobility applications. The rebranding from Hexagon PPM to Hexagon Asset Lifecycle Intelligence is being driven by a common set of goals and values of our customers, including the need to have real-time intelligence of their assets, as announced by our President Mattias Stenberg in Athens earlier this year during our Sales Kick off. This evolution is reflective of our “Smart Digital Reality” vision, where we deliver to our customers “a based role single pane of glass” where they operate with improved quality, safety, efficiency, and productivity, all of which contribute to economic and environmental sustainability.

How would you define the digital twin, and what are the main benefits for oil, gas and petrochemicals companies? How does it enable a ‘single version of the truth’? 

Hexagon’s core technology competencies enable a digital reality feedback loop – creating freedom of insight so you can be proactive, preventative, and event-predictive. Our “Smart Digital Reality” vision is beyond just a visual representation of an asset; it is infused with intelligence to automate processes and analytics, increasingly removing human intervention on the journey to a fully autonomous future.

Whether during new facility construction or existing facility operations, data is captured and processed via our proprietary Digital Backbone.  Context is added by layering 1D documents and specifications and 2D schematics over 3D models, regardless of the source, i.e. our solution is source and vendor agnostic.

Hexagon’s value proposition is “the single pane of glass”, where the ultimate goal of this proposition is to deliver safety, efficiency, quality and productivity, and to ensure that these values are connected to work processes in a measurable way.

This single source of truth provides full visibility to our customers on all actions, corrective actions and decisions that they need to take underneath the areas of [Plant, Design, Execute] for Digital Projects and  [Operate, Maintain, Sustain] for Digital Assets specific to the individual’s role.  Leveraging data to its fullest potential is the outcome we want – moving beyond automation to autonomy. And in order to support those processes and to personalise and visualise them as per the individual’s role, understanding and leveraging the data is key as this data will streamline into Hexagon Digital Backbone (from whatever is the source) that consolidates, smartifies and contextualises the data in that role based single pane of glass.

How can Hexagon help companies with their Digital Twin journey across the asset lifecycle? 

Hexagons “Smart Digital Reality” for industrial facilities is a platform that helps companies maintain safe and sustainable operations, achieve the lowest practical cost and optimise plant production and worker productivity by facilitating the capture and integration of data from any source, contextualising, visualising and then facilitating work process enhancements across the entire asset lifecycle, represented by "Digital Projects" and "Digital Assets", all facilitated by the "Digital Backbone". The result enhances execution of work processes that run natively within this highly intuitive environment.  It allows consumers to generate new insights about the asset in support of faster, more accurate decisions and actions that lead to improvements in safety, quality, efficiency, and productivity, all of which contribute to economic and environmental sustainability.

Hexagon’s Digital Twin strategy and vision address all these challenges and barriers to the creation and maintenance of the Smart Digital Reality.

To what extent are refining and petrochemicals companies aware of the benefits of digital transformation and looking to implement the digital twin? Are there any use cases you could highlight? 

As a result of the pandemic, digital transformation is accelerating, but data shows that only a handful of digitally ready leaders are capturing more market share. Data, and more precisely data into context, has always been needed to make decisions. Hexagons proprietary Digital Backbone provides data consolidation and interoperability to ensure all data sources are captured and applied in the context of the work processes within our Digital Projects and Assets solutions. A key success factor in today’s new normal, is that Hexagon, as an organisation, is well equipped with robust remote working tools along with its wide portfolio of digital solutions that embrace a successful digital journey.

Over one half of all oil, gas, and chemicals products worldwide are delivered more efficiently due to Hexagon technology. Hexagon has supported these organisations to reduce costs by increasing efficiency, even at the pandemic peak. Admittedly, adopting digital technologies alone isn’t enough, and companies will need to analyse the role they play in the digital ecosystem, identify the partners they will need to work with and acquire the capabilities that they need to succeed. Doing so will enable companies to capture the benefits of digitalisation, mitigate threats, and take advantage of disruptions – all of which are essential to sustainability. I encourage you to visit our resource centre available on our website where you can find our customers’ success stories all across the globe, and the most up-to-date content about digital transformation as well as the latest product information and industry research.

How successfully can digital twins be introduced on legacy facilities? 

Successful Digital twins for legacy facilities have always been a proof of the robustness of the solution but as well its sustainability. So, if the “Smart Digital Reality” is to deliver its promise, we must have a way of creating and maintaining it for both new and existing facilities.  Although creation of the Digital Reality is a one-time effort, it must be proactively maintained on a daily basis, as changes to design and operating parameters are constantly changing.  For new facilities its easy to understand how the Digital Twins and Threads are created, as a function of the normal design, engineering, construction and handover process.  

This might not be as evident for existing facilities which were either not designed using a 3D model, or the model is out of date. Not to mention the barriers of multiple data formats from basic files and unintelligent native formats. Fact is, today there are many more existing facilities than will probably ever be built in the future. 

Hexagon’s vision is to remove these barriers by automating the handover, tagging, and back-modelling of new and existing assets, smartifying the data, and connecting the Digital Project and Assets worlds using integrated solutions within the Digital Backbone. This will vastly reduce the time, cost, and complexity of creating and maintaining Smart Digital Realities for every industrial facility on the planet.  This vision will maximise the economic and environmental impact.

To what extent are ESG and sustainability concerns a driver for digital twin implementation, and how can the digital twin help to promote sustainable operations?

Most companies we work with want growth and to boost safety, quality, efficiency, and productivity, for both new and existing facilities. The good news is that continued growth doesn’t have to be at the expense of environmental sustainability.  We can make an immediate difference by just focusing on existing facilities and assets, to make them more self-efficient and self-sustainable, to extend their lifecycles and to reduce construction and demolition waste.

With fossil fuel and renewable energy production projected to significantly lag energy demand for decades to come, every step our customers take to improve their own sustainability counts. Hexagon solutions contributes to a more sustainable planet:

Reduces rework in construction from 15% to 1%

Reduces scrap rate at factories by 20%

Increases wind turbine efficiency by 30%

Reduces weight of components by 20%

On a group level, Hexagon in February announced the launch of a new sustainability proramme with key environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals centred around carbon emissions, supplier audits and gender diversity.

Hexagons innovative solutions already contribute to environmental and social sustainability by improving efficiency, quality and safety in a broad array of industries and societal applications. But its sustainability journey is not only determined by the role its solutions play in the market, but also by its own processes and actions. In the context of growing ESG importance and Hexagons recent pledge to further its ESG focus, the programme aims to accelerate its commitment to respect planetary boundaries, generate positive social contributions and ensure robust corporate governance. It outlines ESG targets for 2023 and beyond, embracing goals to significantly reduce its carbon footprint, better manage supply chain risks and improve gender balance across leadership positions.

ESG targets include:

Carbon neutrality in its scope 1 and 2 emissions - by 2030

Carbon neutrality across its entire value chain in scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions - by 2050

Sustainability supplier audits across 100% of its direct suppliers, in risk areas - by 2023

At least 30% of its leadership positions filled by women - by 2025

 The targets will be achieved through various activities - from increasing energy efficiency across its facilities while reducing carbon emissions from business travel and company fleets to an increased focus on sustainability in the product design phase, stronger supplier audit processes, and initiatives that build and nurture an inclusive culture while attracting and retaining diverse talent.