Challenges faced by Operating Companies, solved with the help of Off-line and On-line Digital Twins
Operating Companies must maintain their assets producing at safe conditions (for people, equipment and surroundings), complying with environmental rules and laws, while still being profitable.
Process simulation can help in ensuring compliance with the different terms of the equation highlighted above. The availability of a Digital Twin, based on rigorous simulation models of the producing asset, will generate a risk-free environment allowing the testing of test all possible attempts to either reduce expenses or increase incomes while keeping safety unaltered.
Proposals for OPEX reduction that might require changes in control strategies can be tested in the off-line Digital Twin before their implementation in the real plant. Suggestions for CAPEX investments looking for production enhancement can also be evaluated and compared with alternative solutions by using the Digital Twin as well, ensuring optimal operation, maximum reliability, reduced risks and enhanced safety.
Moreover, the up-to-date dynamic simulation model that any Digital Twin relies on can be used as the basis for a training program for operations staff (engineers and operators) in order to gain insights on the units, the processes and the whole plant. An on-line version of the Digital Twin, hence connected to the plant instrumentation database, can also be used to detect anomalies as well as process deviations from the planned and predicted plant and equipment behaviour, providing the basis for Predictive Maintenance activities. Furthermore, it can also be used for look-ahead predictions, by observing in the Digital Twin how an operational change (like feedstock variability) impacts the rest of the equipment, for how long, and at what cost.
Depending on the market vertical,
dynamic simulation has been key
Performance of compressors (and drivers): load sharing, anti-surge control, hot
and cold bypass, depressurization, shutdown, start-up, etc.
Capability of production separators: slug catching capacity, etc.
Adequacy of plant equipment & instrumentation: internals,
valves, hydraulics, etc.
Dimensions of equipment protection systems: PSVs, RDs, HIPPS
Flare load determination: holdup transient analysis.
Upstream Flow Assurance: slugs management, wax deposition,
hydrates formation, etc.
Steam System Analysis: process and utilities upset scenarios,
venting capacity, pressure controllability, etc.
DCS verification: planned shutdown and start-up, instrument ranges
and control strategies, control narrative verification.
SIS verification: ESD, cause & effect matrix verification.
Improvement of operability for sequences and procedures.