Digital twins drives industrial decarbonization
For far too long manufacturing enterprises have focused on productivity centred around economics and commercial gains driven by KPIs such as speed to market, manufacturing cost, operational cost, overall profitability etc. It is time for everyone in industrial manufacturing and other process industries to focus on resource productivity, sustainability, carbon and energy footprint.
In the past, very few industries and manufacturers gave any attention to these topics, and if they did, it was limited to fulfilling compliance and regulatory conditions through small, incremental measures hoping to generate marginal improvements. Thanks to some global leadership supported by environmentalists focusing on topics such as resource productivity, decarbonization and energy optimization are among the top priorities. Forward looking nations around the world are starting to force enterprises to undertake firm commitments.
Decarbonization - industry challenges
At a macro level industry challenges such as product individualization, globalization, speed to market (NPDI - new product development & introduction), design-build-service anywhere, end of life management etc. have mainly been driven based on financial objectives. The ongoing pandemic has also seen a major shift in both supply and demand, throwing unexpected challenges to keep business viable. Globally depleting raw material will continue to make finished products more expensive in the future.
Global demographic changes have shifted demand for finished products towards emerging markets which is forcing industrial and process manufacturers need to realize that traditional approach and measures to maintain productivity will not continue to be an option anymore. The fundamental premise, in which resource productivity is subordinate to other operational priorities—will not be valid anymore.
On a global front, we earthlings are at a tipping point where we must act together, at a scale and pace never imagined. Tackling the most complex and integrated problems, where our global economic system is hard wired into challenges such as atmospheric pollution, overconsumption and waste should be our top priority. All of which contribute to manmade climatic disasters such as hotter temperatures, frequent cloud bursts, melting ice, increased forest fires, water shortages etc.
Decarbonization is a complex societal problem that will require social and structural transformation coupled with technological innovations. Often, the causes are multiple and solving them involves integrating multiple data and knowledge sources and putting them in context of each other in order to understand the conditions for industrial decarbonization.
Influencers and source for industrial carbon generation
Industries are heavily dependent on fossil fuels across the product and service lifecycle. Over 80% of the world's primary energy comes from fossil fuels, which contain carbon. Globally half of the carbon dioxide emissions occur when the processed fossil fuels provide useful energy as high carbon energy vectors in industry, transport and buildings. The carbon in the various fossil fuels, enters and accumulates into the atmosphere, either when primary energy is converted into energy vectors (burning of coal for generating electricity). Alongside individualization, globalization, digitalization and demographic change play a key role in shaping the future of our world.
Typically, decarbonized product development, production and service processes generally lead to higher cost. Some of the key measures to accomplish decarbonization would be efficiency improvement, energy optimization or use of renewable energy sources, change of feedstock, change in demand by increasing reuse, remanufacturing or recycling, modifying production process and carbon capture and storage or usage.
Other influencers which are often ignored are cost of prematurely replacing industrial assets and products, unique requirements of every industrial facility. For example, in petroleum refineries, even relatively small equipment changes require part of the site to be redesigned and rebuilt, because the processes are highly integrated within a small, optimized area.
Digital Twin platforms help contribute to Paris agreement objectives
Digitalization does not mean providing enterprises with a collection of fancy technologies. The actual effect stems from combining the ever-changing interaction of different technologies – bringing together of various IT, OT and semantic knowledge systems and contextually integrating them such that the data could be analysed through simple analytics or through artificial intelligence/machine learning. Over the last 3 years Atos has been working on creating a common platform – Digital Twin and focused in the area of improving efficiency of industrial assets and reduce energy consumption.
The Digital Twin platform can be put to work in several ways based on the business domain and process improvements essentially making significant steps towards reduction of carbon footprint. Some of the key decarbonization improvements accomplished by Digital Twin are through:
- Improvement in asset / equipment overall efficiency
- Monitor and improve energy consumption of field & shop floor assets
- Increase availability of assets and predicting remaining useful life
- Enabling remote monitoring & diagnostics reducing logistical energy spend
By capturing a 360-degree data view of physical asset - field OT data, service life data, enterprise data and expert knowledge of service engineers / operators and contextualizing them helps create a decision support system which is not limited to switching on or off industrial systems to optimize energy and drive decarbonization.