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Article


Amit Antil
"Everything you need to know about your plant is out there. However, the truth is that most of the time, the information is dispersed across various platforms and in numerous formats."

Amit Shrivastava
Director, Bentley Systems India Private Limited.

Digital Twins for the Process Industry - Open, Evergreen and Cost - Efficient

By Amit Shrivastava, Director, Bentley Systems India Private Limited.

Published In 2019 Edition

Finding the right data at the right time has, until now, been time-consuming and inconvenient. Ensuring that the facility documentation is up to date for regulatory compliance has been a continual struggle. 

Everything you need to know about your plant is out there. However, the truth is that most of the time, the information is dispersed across various platforms and in numerous formats. It is not in context, nor is it easily accessible. It is simply not in a form that you can act upon.  

Operations & Maintenance need easy access to real-time, accurate, engineering information. They need tools that make it simple to keep engineering data up-to-date, in a continually changing environment with asset modifications, and, also add-ons like mounting and safety additions. It takes too much time and effort to gather and verify the information they need to make decisions effectively. Moreover, for older plants that do not have 3D models, there is simply no way to visualize, verify, and check information quickly. What is needed is a system that can ensure information flows smoothly, completely, and accurately between and within the design, construction, and operations environments. 

Jointly developed by Bentley and Siemens, PlantSight is a set of digital twin cloud services that provides an evergreen digital twin environment for process plants to consolidate and aggregate plant models and data, validate the information, visualize it, and analyze it to make informed decisions. It transforms raw data into one complete, living digital twin that is continuously updated. The digital twin can include process and plant engineering, physical layout modeling, project, and construction planning, Maintenance, reliability, and asset performance modeling. 

Federation of Data is Key 

Imagine accessing traditionally inaccessible data through intelligent scanning and interpretation. You can validate data and link it to other information, and trace changes to improve accuracy, completeness, and trustworthiness of asset data and documentation, help improve compliance and the quality of decision making. The solution is scalable, secure, extendable, and will reduce IT footprint and cost. 

Introducing PlantSight

PlantSight is a cloud-based plant engineering and operations solution that scales from the simplest plant modification workflows to those required for complex capital projects. The solution shares a common data model across an open, connected data environment (CDE).

PlantSight services include Data acquisition that can load plant design information not only from COMOS, OpenPlant but also from AVEVA and Hexagon. 

Data aggregation services consolidate and aggregate data into the CDE and ensure that all data is correctly synchronized, and a tag registry service that manages tags across all these multiple systems. 

Tags are used to identify assets and are typically the common denominator between different engineering and operations systems. They are also one of the hardest things to consolidate and keep updated across these systems.

With Siemens's expertise in functional information and Bentley's expertise in 3D spatial information, PlantSight solves this problem. In addition to aggregating data from plant design systems, it can also aggregate data from Excel, ISO 15926, and other data sources, giving the operator instant access to accurate tag information. The PlantSight tag registry is also integrated directly with COMOS and OpenPlant, so they share this capability with design workflows. 

Moreover, if there is no 3D model of the existing plant? PlantSight can also combine a reality mesh of an existing plant (created easily from photographs using Bentley's Context Capture software), together with any 3D models that may be available, and link tag information to the geospatial coordinates of that tagged component.

No More Dark Data

A digital twin includes federated data from many online and offline sources with open integration. It helps incorporate data from digitally inaccessible sources, sometimes referred to as "dark data" and mobile sources used in the field....


An accurate, up-to-date digital twin reduces time to operational readiness and can influence time-to-market. The ease with which this digital twin can be updated during operation or modified during projects drives the need for increased flexibility and adaptability. The seamless and on-going integration of process engineering, Maintenance, 3D representation, and operational performance information, speeds up and supports continuous improvement and, thereby, efficiency, sustainability, and return on assets. The digital twin makes it easier to engineer for safety and compliance and verify the as-built and as-maintained facility.

In addition to information accessible online, there is a category of inaccessible sources, such as PDF documents, drawings or paper documents, and electronic data in legacy systems that can benefit a broader set of users, when made available. PlantSight includes intelligent services to help incorporate, analyze, and connect data from these dark data sources. As data quality may be inconsistent, validation steps allow the differentiation of useful data from incomplete data. 

Change Synchronization

For Operations and Maintenance, one of the biggest challenges is knowing what changedwhen it changed to ensure accurate decisions making. Not just the most recent change, it's every change – historically on record. P&IDs are probably one of the essential operational documents, so how about if you can view those same changes we saw in 3D visualized on the P&ID? Visualizing changes using the context of a familiar document adds real value to operators. 

Today, it is possible to handover the complete digital twin and keeps it evergreen. When the twin starts deviating over time because the equipment is modified or there are add-ons, it is possible to create a new project digital twin (based on the most current performance digital twin) and engineer the modifications in parallel with the operation of the plant, until shutdown. Any changes compared to design is captured in the project twin, then a simple reconciliation step combines the latest changes in the performance digital twin from the information from the project twin. 

Leveraging new technologies such as reality modeling, 3D web-based visualization, cloud-services, and IoT, PlantSight is the next-generation asset performance management system to consolidate and aggregate information and support constant and continuous change management towards better and informed decisions on asset performance and reliability.

Plant Operations and Maintenance can now manage as-operated digital twins of their assets. Never before has 'evergreen' been so systematic within an operating plant.



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