To have a sustainable operation is one of the main goals for smart industries, and Digital Twin technology can be a great ally to accelerate this process. The concern with carbon emissions is shared by both governments and society. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) industries are 21% of global greenhouse gas emissions:
“Greenhouse gas emissions from industry primarily involve fossil fuels burned on site at facilities for energy. This sector also includes emissions from chemical, metallurgical, and mineral transformation processes not associated with energy consumption and emissions from waste management activities. (Note: Emissions from industrial electricity use are excluded and are instead covered in the Electricity and Heat Production sector.)”
So how can digital technologies change this scenario?
From the Industry 4.0 movement, the digital transformation era has arrived. Between the changes that this journey toward a more efficient and sustainable operation brings is the control over crucial data. It is through the ability to collect, combine and connect this data, information, and documentation from the industrial plants that Digital Twin technology can be the greatest ally for sustainability in industries. Between the advantages that the technology brings are:
- Reduction on carbon footprint.
- Reduction on resources needed.
- Reduction on CO2
But how does this technology operate to accelerate sustainability in industries?
First, we need to characterise what is a Digital Twin: a virtual representation of an existing physical object, that creates a continuous flow of data between the real object and the digital model. With that definition in mind, a Digital Twin can accelerate sustainability in two main ways:
- Use it to organise and display data in a digital model.
- Use it to “predict the future”.
Through the first one, you have the ability to access real-time data about industrial equipment and operation, which can provide important insights about what is happening, quantify that data, and combine it with other important information to have a complete overview of the plant. Therefore, it is possible to acknowledge how much damage to the environment was caused by the operation and come up with plans to avoid it in the future.
But if combined with other technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and predictive analytics, it is possible to use the data collected to not only acknowledge the environmental damage but to calculate what is likely to happen in the future. In that way, the technology allows you to compare scenarios, and forecast the outcome of different decisions. According to Bart Brink, a Digital Twin specialist:
“Importantly for sustainability, twinning can also help to predict water network flow, balance energy grids, and build resilience in the face of the impacts of climate change. To maximise the benefits, digital twins need to be elevated from focusing on individual assets only, to encompass whole processes or even entire enterprises or cities.”
How can you apply these technologies?
Rest assured, there are economically viable solutions available in the market. From hardware sensors to software solutions, it is proven that digital technologies can increase productivity in industries while reducing CO2 emissions, water waste, and budget. Although it seems too good to be true, all of this technology is already available, but you need to think long-term to get the best results.
- Sensor monitoring: cloud-based tools, such as IoT (Internet of Things) sensors, can give you real-time information about the status of the operation. According to McKinsey & Company, sensors that monitor the carbon emission “are within the grasp of operators at a cost of no more than $50/metric ton of carbon.”
- Software powered with Digital Twin and AI technology: Digital Twins software can bring more reliability to the industrial operation and through predictive analytics, give you important information to forecast how specific decisions will impact the production, having the opportunity to make the best cost-efficient decisions.
The connection of predictive maintenance – the safest for industrial assets and at the lowest cost in the long run – with the digital twin that centralises information, brings the result we did with the last survey done by Vidya: 25% savings on asset maintenance in 10 years campaigns, a 50% increase in the productivity of maintenance teams, and 66% people reduction on the field.
A conscient approach to the investments made in industries worldwide can be the game-changer for a more sustainable future. At the present time, the industrial leaders who take advantage of emerging Industry 4.0 technologies, are already avoiding future costs and mitigating the carbon emission intensity.
Learn more about the tools needed for this change and other information about Vidya’s work with the technology at: https://vidyatec.com/software.
Marina Stoiev is Inbound Marketing and Content Manager at Vidya Technology.
Vidya Technology works towards disseminating the usage of Digital Twin Technology. Experienced in engineering, software, and hardware development background, Vidya combines Digital Twin, Artificial Intelligence, and the Internet of Things to enhance Operation and Maintenance, leading worldwide industries to a new data-driven era.