Today, with advancements in technology, it is vital for utilities to manage operations in real-time. In addition, it is critical to monitor assets and operations to prevent problems before they happen, allay downtimes, and explore new opportunities or plan for the future. Digital Twin Technologies enable utilities to do all this and more.
To help understand digital twin technologies, we created this breakdown on what it is, how it works, and how it benefits utilities.
What is Digital Twin Technology?
Digital Twin technology uses real-world data to create simulations to predict how an asset or process will perform. In addition, these programs can integrate IoT, hydraulic models, and artificial intelligence to enhance the analytical output for better decision-making.
To summarize, a Digital Twin is a virtual replica of a physical asset. A two-way data connection updates the twin in real-time, representing a utility’s physical model simulation and live asset characteristics.
Utilities can use a digital twin to investigate problems and solutions without risking damage to equipment, the environment, or public health.
Why use Digital Twins for Utility Operations Management?
Digital twin technology helps with operator training and workflow efficiency. It allows utilities to plan, execute and optimize the daily operations visually.
Data feeds from real-time IoT devices are easier to manage within a digital twin. The simulation formats and displays information in ways that bring value to an organization’s operation plannings and management programs.
The visualization and analysis capabilities in a digital twin help utilities improve incident tracking, quality control, and maintenance updates. It also helps organizations plan investments by providing insight into different scenarios and their effects.
Easy access to data allows operations managers to make decisions more quickly. In addition, digital twins enable interaction and collaboration across multiple departments, improving communication with stakeholders.
How Does it Work?
A mathematical model simulates an original utility’s physical assets and system to create a digital twin.
A water systems digital twin model receives feedback data from SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), hydraulic models, IoT sensors, and advanced consumption meters.
The digital twin model calculates performance coefficients for each asset in a water system relative to demand and system operations. The user can enter the demand and operational information to create different simulation cases.
Then, based on the core hydraulic mathematics and artificial intelligence algorithms, the model provides simulation results. These simulation results are a close representation of how the real-world physical asset will perform.
How GIS/IoT and AI Work with Digital Twins
GIS helps in mapping all assets in the hydraulic model to links, junctions, and pumps.
The GIS connections help the digital twin model to understand the geographical locations and surrounding asset density. Also, data received from each asset connected to the IoT sensors helps accurately train the model to understand an asset’s behavior and daily operation.
This GIS and IoT data is fed into the AI algorithms to enable the model to predict the assets’ future behavior and operational efficiency.
Benefits of Digital Twin Technology
Digital twin technology helps cities optimally manage daily operations, plan real-time scenarios, predict the future behavior of networks, and reduce water loss.
A digital twin also helps to maximize the benefits of existing hydraulic models with outstanding accuracy. Using a digital twin over a water supply network allows training employees to work with the system more effectively. Staff can test measures and solutions in the model before committing them to reality.
In addition, a digital twin model is helpful for the following water utility operations:
- Test new equipment or control sequences virtually, without risk to real-world operations.
- Quickly determine workable solutions before going to the site physically: a safer response.
- Collaborate across engineering, planning, and operations for better and faster decisions (leveraged by outside consulting, contracting, and test services).
- Train to work with the system most effectively and safely: compile and display the valuable data they collect for optimal system performance; and visualize and animate time-dependent operations, such as reservoir cycling or transient pressure travel.
- Predict the future using data analytics and computer model simulations for planning (what-if scenarios), respond intelligently to pipe breaks, and handle crises (resilience).
Implementing a Digital Twin for Utilities
The factors a utility should consider when creating and implementing digital twin technology are:
- Hydraulic model implementation
- Management of data quality
- Installation of real-time sensors
- Smart meter and its communications telemetry
- Statistics of assets’ daily operation efficiency and scope of improvements
- Water loss calculations for fiscal or calendar year
Utilities that use digital twin technology will better manage operations in real-time and plan for the future. A digital twin makes work processes more efficient, safer, and beneficial to all stakeholders.
Learn how Nobel Sytem’s Digital Twin Technology Can Help Your Utility
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