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IIoT and Digital Twin Technology: Transforming Energy and Industrial Operations.

From Data to Action: How IIoT and Digital Twins are Reshaping Industrial Sectors.

IIoT and Digital Twin Technology Transforming Energy and Industrial Operations - Miniotec
IIoT and Digital Twin Technology Transforming Energy and Industrial Operations

Leveraging Reality 3D Models and Simulation to Optimise Energy and Industrial Assets


The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Digital Twin technology continue to evolve as key enablers of Digital Transformation in the energy and industrial sectors.


By creating a Digital Twin, or a virtual representation of physical assets and infrastructure, companies can add leverage through the power of IIoT devices and IIoT applications to optimise their operations, reduce costs and enhance safety.


This article presents a high-level overview of the integration of IIoT and Digital Twin technologies, focusing on best practice 3D models and IIoT sensors to create rich reality models for the virtual modelling, simulation and monitoring of industrial assets.


Video courtesy of YouNeed3D.


Integration of IIoT and Digital Twin Technology


The integration of IIoT and Digital Twin technology offers numerous benefits for organisations operating in the energy and industrial sectors. By merging the data collected by IIoT sensors and devices with detailed 3D models, companies can create more comprehensive Digital Twins that provide valuable insights into asset performance and efficiency.


When implemented correctly, IIoT devices can play a crucial role in Digital Twin advancements by providing real-time data on asset performance, environmental conditions and other critical factors. This data, when combined with 3D reality models, the best versions of which use Close-Range Photogrammetry, enables companies to create Digital Twins that visually and spatially mimic their physical counterparts, allowing for more effective monitoring, analysis and optimisation of industrial assets and processes.



Use Cases of IIoT and Digital Twin Technology in the Oil and Gas and Mining Sectors


Enhancing Asset Performance through Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance in IIoT Era

A Wireless Predictive Maintenance Sensor Installed in Less than 5-10 Minutes with No Gateways - Miniotec.com
A Wireless Predictive Maintenance Sensor Installed in Less than 5-10 Minutes with No Gateways.

In the Oil and Gas and Mining sectors, asset performance monitoring and predictive maintenance are vital applications of IIoT and Digital Twin technology. By harnessing the power of IIoT data analytics and Digital Twin models, organisations can boost equipment reliability through real-time data analysis, cut down on unplanned downtime and decrease maintenance costs. By deploying a Digital Twin solution, companies can incorporate the data acquired through all data sources, including IIoT sensors, which gather essential data on asset performance.


Coupled with the visual acuity provided by 3D reality models created using photogrammetry, this now enables a “window to your data” through a true digital representation of the physical asset, facilitating the development of precise and comprehensive Digital Twins to support better decision-making and process optimisation.


Digital Twins that support predictive maintenance strategies help organisations manage their industrial assets in Oil and Gas facilities and Mining operations more effectively. Digital Twin models foster a more proactive approach to maintenance, mitigating the likelihood of equipment failure and prolonging asset lifespan. By implementing IIoT monitoring platforms and associated data science analytics, companies can gain a deeper understanding of their industrial assets' health and performance, resulting in enhanced asset integrity management.

The integration of IIoT devices with Digital Twin and AI technology enables organisations to maximise the return on investment for their high-value assets and optimise their maintenance operations, ensuring that potential faults are detected and addressed timely before they escalate.


Process Optimisation and Energy Efficiency


The implementation of Digital Twins in refining and processing operations offers significant benefits in terms of process optimisation and energy efficiency. Digital Twin technology enables organisations to develop and implement strategies to better manage and optimise resource and energy use, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the efficiency of industrial processes. By employing IIoT connectivity technologies and devices, companies can gather real-time data on energy consumption, emissions and process efficiency. This information, combined with the visually rich reality models provided by Digital Twins, allows organisations to identify areas for improvement and implement changes that lead to more sustainable operations.


Furthermore, some IIoT-enabled technologies can help monitor, optimise and control energy consumption in real-time. This allows companies to reduce their carbon footprint, meet sustainability goals and minimise operational costs. Digital Twin software platforms, coupled with IIoT data analytics, can thus provide valuable insights into energy usage patterns and enable more effective energy management strategies.


Safety and Environmental Management


Safety and environmental management are critical concerns for organisations operating in the Oil and Gas and Mining sectors. Digital Twin technology can be employed for risk assessment and hazard prevention, enabling companies to identify potential issues before they become critical incidents. By using IIoT environmental monitoring systems and Digital Twin models, organisations can better understand the risks and hazards present in their facilities, allowing them to implement preventive measures and improve overall safety.


Remote monitoring and control of hazardous environments using IIoT devices and Digital Twin models further enhance safety by reducing the need for personnel to enter potentially dangerous areas. Industrial IIoT devices, specifically those that are classed as intrinsically safe, can continuously monitor conditions in hazardous zones, while Digital Twin models provide a visual representation of the environment for remote analysis. This combination of technologies allows companies to respond more quickly to potential issues, reducing the risk of accidents and improving worker safety.


Workforce Training and Skill Enhancement


The use of Digital Twins in workforce training and skill enhancement is another growing application of IIoT and Digital Twin technology. Virtual and augmented reality-based training using Digital Twins can accelerate knowledge transfer and reduce onboarding time for new employees. This approach enables workers to gain hands-on experience with equipment and processes in a safe, controlled environment, enhancing overall workforce competency and productivity.


Industry 4.0 and the Digital Twin revolution continues to evolve and transform workforce development in the energy and industrial sectors. By integrating IIoT-enabled devices, artificial intelligence, machine learning and IIoT data science, Digital Twin models can provide immersive training experiences that mimic real-world scenarios, allowing employees to develop essential skills and knowledge more rapidly. In particular, Digital Twin platforms, such as YouNeed3D, that use photorealistic representations of physical assets through the use of Close-Range Photogrammetry solutions provide the best outcomes across all use cases and stakeholder users. As a result, companies can enhance their workforce's capabilities and better adapt to the challenges and opportunities presented by technology in the rapidly evolving energy and industrial landscape.


Facility Design and Optimisation


IIoT solutions enable real-time data collection, analysis and communication between various devices, systems and stakeholders. By integrating IIoT with Digital Twin technology, companies can create virtual models of their facilities, which can then be used to analyse and optimise their design and layout for improved operational efficiency.


With the help of IIoT sensors, companies can monitor and collect data on various aspects of their facilities, such as equipment performance, energy consumption and environmental factors. This data can be incorporated into the Digital Twin model, allowing stakeholders to visualise and assess the impact of different design choices on overall performance and efficiency.


Moreover, IIoT-supported Digital Twins facilitate the evaluation and optimisation of design changes before their physical implementation. Companies can run simulations and better design workshops to analyse the potential consequences of modifications, ensuring that the most effective and efficient solutions are chosen that are easier to construct and maintain. This process reduces the risk of costly and time-consuming rework, while also promoting a more sustainable approach to facility design and management.


Moreover, intelligent Digital Twins can be utilised by non-technical users, enabling a broader range of stakeholders to participate in the design and optimisation process. This collaborative approach can lead to more innovative solutions and a higher degree of alignment between facility design and business objectives.


Challenges in Implementing IIoT and Digital Twin Technology


The Oil and Gas and Mining sectors encounter a variety of obstacles when attempting to adopt industrial Digital Twins with IIoT and Digital Twin technology. Overcoming these challenges is crucial to fully utilise the transformative power of Digital Twins and IIoT solutions, leading to increased operational efficiency, minimised costs, improved safety and de-risking how assets are managed across the entire asset lifecycle.


Integration of Legacy Systems


Oil, Gas and Mining industries often rely on legacy systems that may be incompatible with new IIoT and Digital Twin technologies. Integrating these systems can be complex, time-consuming and expensive, often delaying the adoption of Digital Twin and AI solutions. However, modern industrial IIoT platforms are increasingly capable of integrating with existing infrastructure, mitigating this challenge to some extent and Digital Twin solutions, particularly those that utilise Close-Range Photogrammetry, provide more benefits over comparative solutions, for example, laser scanning approaches.


Interoperability is a Key Success Factor for Gaining the True Benefits of Digital Twins - Miniotec
Interoperability is a Key Success Factor for Gaining the True Benefits of Digital Twins. (Image Courtesy of YouNeed3D)

High Initial Investment


Depending on the scale and extent of a Digital Twin solution required, implementation of Digital Twins and IIoT solutions can require a significant upfront investment in hardware, software and training. These costs can be prohibitive for some organisations, particularly smaller companies with limited resources. Nevertheless, the cost of adoption of wireless IIoT solutions is significantly less than fix-wired monitoring systems, including SCADA, and the long-term benefits of improved operational efficiency, reduced downtime and optimised processes will typically always outweigh these initial costs.


Selecting the ‘Right’ Digital Twin Base Visualisation Technology


Choosing the appropriate technology for creating reality 3D models to support your Digital Twin strategy is crucial for the success of Digital Twin implementation. From our experience with multiple technologies and use cases, Close-Range Photogrammetry is the preferred solution, as it generates accurate and detailed 3D models with the highest visual acuity and fidelity reasonably quickly. On the other hand, 360-degree cameras lack the precision and accuracy required for industrial Digital Twins, making them an unsuitable choice. Laser scanning, while offering sub-millimetre accuracy, is best utilised as a supporting data collection strategy in localised areas where high precision is necessary, such as tie-in point locations.


Weaknesses of 360 Cameras vs Benefits of Close-Range Photogrammetry - Miniotec
Weaknesses of 360 Cameras vs Benefits of Close-Range Photogrammetry. 360 Camera solutions are effectively 2.5D Photo Albums. (Image Courtesy of YouNeed3D).

Continuous Data Validation


Ensuring the accuracy and reliability of data within Digital Twins is essential for effective decision-making and process optimisation. Initial and thereafter regular data validation is required to maintain the integrity of the Digital Twin, particularly as industrial assets and environments evolve over time. This can be resource-intensive, but investing in data validation processes and tools is vital for maximising the value of Digital Twins, especially trust in its data.


Cross-Functional Collaboration


Digital Twin solutions like Geminai from YouNeed3D enable all stakeholders to use the same dataset, fostering collaboration, contextualisation and knowledge sharing across different teams, departments and external contractors. This facilitates better decision-making, consistent knowledge sharing and improves the overall efficiency of operations. Encouraging cross-functional collaboration and the use of shared Digital Twin datasets can help overcome organisational silos and ensure a more cohesive approach to asset management and process optimisation.


Ongoing Maintenance of the 3D Model


Maintaining and updating the 3D model is essential for keeping the Digital Twin relevant and useful. Close-Range Photogrammetry simplifies this process, allowing for the easier capture and integration of new asset data and design evolution / operational changes. Ensuring that the 3D model remains current and accurate is crucial for the Digital Twin's continued adoption and long-term effectiveness.


While not a complete list, these are common core challenges associated with implementing IIoT and Digital Twin technology in the energy sectors. Addressing these challenges can result in considerable benefits for businesses, allowing them to fully leverage the potential of Digital Twins and IIoT solutions to optimise operations, decrease costs and enhance overall performance.


Trends in IIoT and Digital Twin Technology for the Energy and Industrial Sectors


As the adoption of Industrial IoT and Digital Twin technology continues to grow, several trends will continue to shape the development and application of these technologies in the energy and industrial sectors. Advancements in edge computing, AI integration and predictive analytics are enabling more sophisticated data processing and automated prescriptive capabilities, further enhancing the value of a Digital model and digital thread for asset management and process optimisation.


The evolution of 5G technology is also having a significant impact on IIoT and Digital Twin applications, as the increased network speeds, lower latency and improved reliability offered by 5G networks supports more advanced IIoT device connectivity and real-time data transmission. This will further improve the accuracy and utility of Digital Twin models for industrial asset monitoring and decision-making.


Finally, the increased adoption of virtual, augmented and mixed reality and wearable technologies in Digital Twin applications is continuing to create new opportunities for workforce training, remote collaboration and immersive visualisation of industrial assets and processes. As these technologies continue to advance and become more widely available, their integration with Digital Twin models will provide even greater value for organisations in the energy and industrial sectors.


In Summary


The adoption of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Digital Twin technology is transforming the way organisations in the energy and industrial sectors manage their assets, processes and workforce. As we have outlined in the exploration of various use cases, the benefits of these technologies are vast.


The convergence of IIoT and Digital Twin technology enables a comprehensive approach to asset management, leveraging IIoT sensors and data analytics to gather critical information on equipment performance, environmental conditions, and other essential factors. With the use of Close-Range Photogrammetry and 3D reality meshes, companies can create highly detailed and accurate Digital Twin models, which serve as a powerful tool for decision-makers and design and process optimisation. These Digital Twins can be used with the data collected by IIoT devices to predict and prevent equipment failure and implement more efficient and cost-effective maintenance strategies.


The role of IIoT monitoring platforms and IIoT analytics in Digital Twin development is crucial to unlocking the full potential of these technologies. By continuously collecting, analysing and interpreting data from IIoT sensors, organisations can gain unprecedented insights into their industrial assets and operations. This empowers them to make more informed decisions and optimise internal processes, ultimately leading to enhanced operational efficiency and reduced operational costs.


Safety and environmental management are also greatly improved through the use of Digital Twins and IIoT solutions. Companies can conduct more accurate risk assessments, implement hazard prevention measures and remotely monitor and control hazardous environments. By ensuring the highest scrutiny of safety standards, organisations can better protect their workforce, reduce environmental impacts and meet increasingly stringent sustainability goals and regulations.


The deployment of Digital Twins and IIoT technology for workforce training and skill enhancement is another area where these technologies are transforming the energy and industrial sectors. By integrating virtual, augmented and mixed reality and wearable technology into training programs, organisations can accelerate knowledge transfer, reduce onboarding time and equip their workforce with the necessary skills to excel in today's complex and rapidly evolving industries.


Additionally, leveraging Digital Twins to enhance facility design and layout can lead to significant improvements in operational efficiency and cost reduction. By utilising virtual models for evaluating new designs and optimising design changes before physical implementation, organisations can avoid costly mistakes and maximise the return on investment for infrastructure developments, upgrades and expansions.


IIoT and Digital Twin technology offers significant opportunities to improve efficiency, safety and sustainability in the energy and industrial sectors. By strategically integrating IIoT devices, IIoT monitoring platforms and IIoT data analytics with Digital Twin models, organisations can unlock the full potential of these technologies and drive innovation across their operations. As the adoption of these technologies continues to grow, companies that embrace and invest in IIoT and Digital Twin solutions will be well-positioned to capitalise on the numerous opportunities they present. The next step is fully remote and automated operations with minimal human intervention, but we will save this topic for another article!


We are excited where Digital Twin and IIoT technology is evolving to and are interested to help you on your journey.


Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How do IIoT sensors and the data they collect contribute to Digital Twin development?


A: IIoT sensors enable real-time data collection from various devices and machinery in the industrial environment allowing ‘dumb’ machines to talk. This data, supported and integrated with Digital Twin models, provides valuable insights into asset performance, enabling predictive maintenance, energy efficiency and other optimisations.

Q: How can Digital Twins be used for workforce training and skill enhancement?


A: Digital Twins can be integrated with virtual and augmented reality technologies to create immersive training environments. These simulations help accelerate knowledge transfer, reduce onboarding time and enhance workforce skills.

Q: Why is Close-Range Photogrammetry preferred for generating reality 3D models that delivers the underlying visual foundation of industrial Digital Twins?


A: Close-Range Photogrammetry provides highly accurate 3D models, which are essential for effective Digital Twins. This technology significantly outperforms 360 cameras and is more versatile than laser scanning, making it the preferred solution for generating reality models in the energy and industrial sectors.

Close-Range Photogrammetry technology, as offered by YouNeed3D, also enables the most advanced asset and infrastructure visualisation, creating rich reality models that can be used for various purposes, depending on stakeholder requirements and workflows. Putting it simply, achieving almost photorealistic representations of physical assets is not equivalent with other lesser spatial capture technologies.

Q: How do Digital Twins support risk assessment and hazard prevention in the Oil and Gas and Mining sectors?


A: Companies may use Digital Twin technology to simulate possible risks and hazards in a virtual environment, allowing them to identify vulnerabilities, analyse potential consequences, and adopt preventative steps to assure safety and minimise risks. Because all stakeholders can now access physical assets virtually and in as much detail as if they were there on site, stakeholders from all areas may now interact more freely and efficiently, reducing restrictions such as missing information or working from obsolete plans.

Q: What are the challenges in implementing IIoT and Digital Twin technology in the Oil and Gas and Mining sectors?


A: Some of the core challenges include integration of legacy systems, initial investment and implementation costs, selecting the right base visualisation technology, continuous data validation, cross-functional collaboration and ongoing maintenance of the 3D model.

Q: How can Digital Twins enhance facility design and layout for improved operational efficiency?


A: Digital Twins provide a virtual representation of real assets and facilities, allowing for the evaluation and optimisation of design changes before physical implementation. This enables companies to reduce costs associated with initial design, redesign and reconfiguration.

Q: How can Digital Twin technology help companies meet sustainability goals?


A: Digital Twins enable companies to optimise resource and energy use, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the efficiency of industrial processes. Couple this with the latest evolution of IIoT data analytics, by using both technologies, companies can better manage and accurately plan their operations to meet sustainability goals.

Q: What is the significance of cross-functional collaboration in the implementation of IIoT and Digital Twin technology?


A: Cross-functional collaboration ensures that all stakeholders, such as engineers, operators, management and external stakeholders and contractors, work together to maximise the potential of Digital Twins and IIoT solutions. Solutions like Geminai™ from YouNeed3D support seamless collaboration by providing a unified dataset accessible to all stakeholders through their One Reality™ philosophy.

Q: Why is selecting the right base visualisation technology crucial for successful Digital Twin implementation?


A: Choosing the appropriate visualisation technology, such as Close-Range Photogrammetry, is essential for creating accurate and realistic 3D models that form the foundation of Digital Twins. Selecting unsuitable technologies, such as 360 cameras, can result in inaccurate models and compromise the effectiveness of Digital Twin applications. Selecting laser scanning, whilst very accurate, brings with it many associated costs, challenges and limitations hence we recommend should only be used intermittently as part of a hybrid strategy to support Close-Range Photogrammetry data capture.

Q: How does ongoing maintenance of 3D models contribute to the success of Digital Twins in the Oil and Gas and Mining sectors?


A: Regular maintenance of 3D models ensures that Digital Twins remain up-to-date and continue to provide accurate and reliable insights for decision-making, optimisation and asset management. Close-Range Photogrammetry simplifies the maintenance process by allowing for easy updates and adjustments to the Digital Twin model. The best maintenance strategies we recommend are linking the maintenance efforts with Management of Change (MoC) registers and/or Permit to Work (PtW) registers within a Client defined maintenance period. These processes record all asset changes over a defined period, making it possible to update the Digital Twin particular to the regions highlighted, thereby expediting the Digital Twin maintenance philosophy.


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info@miniotec.com About Miniotec:


Miniotec is a digital consulting and technology solutions provider, dedicated to supporting companies in their digital transformation journeys. Established by a group of experienced engineers, we emphasise the harmonious integration of people, processes and technology. Our team has a rich history of working across various sectors, from energy and resources to infrastructure and industry. We are trusted by the world's largest miners, oil and gas giants, utility companies and even budding start-ups and believe in the transformative power of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and its role in unlocking valuable data insights. Through IIoT, we aim to facilitate better decision-making, enhance operational activities and promote safer work environments. At Miniotec, our goal is to guide and support, ensuring every digital step is a step forward.


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