Digital twin technology enables facility efficiency

Get a better handle on real-time information

By Bassem Ammouri November 15, 2022
Courtesy: Schneider Electric

Digital twin technology insights

  • Digital twin technology is an ideal solution that can be leverage to address issues, as it enhances operational efficiency and reduces the potential of exposure to hazards.
  • This technology fosters innovation and efficiency by enabling seamless collaboration and providing access to real-time data, which helps streamline diagnosis and troubleshooting.

Electrical power operation within data centers and manufacturing facilities is a complicated process that requires thoughtful management and large amounts of available power. Electrical power quality is a crucial piece of the puzzle that keeps facilities running efficiently, yet businesses can be vulnerable to certain threats that disrupt electrical power systems, varying from weather to cybersecurity and physical security to inadequate equipment.

When these possibilities become the reality, unplanned power outages occur. The consequences of unplanned outages not only increase safety risks for personnel but have serious financial consequences as they can result in damaged equipment, corrupt files, and lost data that are very expensive to fix. For example, in the data center industry, 30% of all reported outages cost more than $250,000 to correct, with many exceeding $1M, according to the Uptime Institute. In the oil and gas industry, one outage can cost anywhere from $800K to $3M per outage event. And in the semiconductor industry a single electrical event often exceeds $3.8M.

Although power outages are often triggered by uncontrollable weather events, there are other factors that come into play as well, such as uncontrolled operation and neglected maintenance. The good news is modern power management technology is very effective in preventing unplanned outages and other harmful instances from occurring. Digital twin technology in particular is an ideal solution that electrical engineers and facility managers can leverage to address these issues, as it enhances operational efficiency and reduces the potential of exposure to hazards.

Risk reduction for operators

There are various risks involved in electrical system operations, especially when considering the scarcity of resources that operators and power system engineers have access to. Engineers are often limited to working with static-paper or pdf-based electrical single-line diagrams, which makes it difficult for engineers to maintain and update the electrical systems documentation.

The deployment of digital twin technology fosters innovation and efficiency by enabling seamless collaboration and providing access to real-time data. This helps streamline diagnosis and troubleshooting which, consequently, improves production and process optimization. ETAP’s digital twin platform, for instance, provides intelligent single-line diagrams (iSLD) that utilize digital twin technology in active blueprints of single-phase and three-phase power systems.

Digital twin platforms can provide single line diagrams in active blueprints of single phase and three phase power systems.

Digital twin platforms can provide single line diagrams in active blueprints of single phase and three phase power systems. Courtesy: Schneider Electric

Real-time power system training

An Operator Training Simulator (OTS) is a training tool which harnesses the real-time data from a digital twin, in a safe offline environment for personnel training on the operation of power systems. It helps to develop and improve operator competency through real-world simulated learning, laying out various pre-defined scenarios and contingency plans that give operators a more complex understanding of the electrical system’s operation and predict system response before action implementation.

Not only is this method cost-effective, but it reduces risk of potential safety hazards as well. With the ability to review predefined scenarios using real-time system data, operators can predict system response before taking action. The precise “what if” scenarios enable operators to sharpen decision-making and avoid the risk of subjecting themselves to dangerous situations. Additionally, practical post-mortem analysis and event playback capabilities speed up incident response times for engineers.

With the ability to review predefined scenarios using real-time system data, operators can predict system response before taking action.

With the ability to review predefined scenarios using real-time system data, operators can predict system response before taking action. Courtesy: Schneider Electric


Author Bio: Bassem Ammouri is director, energy management software, Schneider Electric.