By Elgonda LaGrange, Director of Digital Solutions for the Dresser-Rand business, part of Siemens Power & Gas
In the world today, with technology evolving faster than ever before, one thing is clear: digitalization is not a passing trend.
And the oil and gas industry is taking notice.
Digitalization is beginning to change in a big way how oil and gas companies work internally and how they engage with suppliers and customers. It is also fundamentally transforming contracting and business models, bringing clients and service providers closer together through strategic partnerships.
In the offshore sector, there has been much talk surrounding the challenges and opportunities presented by digitalization. Yet despite increased attention, little has transpired to develop an integrated solution that enables offshore operators to fully capitalize on the benefits of digitalization.
Siemens is changing that.
Introducing Topsides 4.0
Siemens Topsides 4.0 is a digital lifecycle approach to rotating equipment and electrical and automation systems, underpinned by secure communications. It is designed to enable digital project management and manufacturing, virtual testing and commissioning, and delivery of an intelligent “digital twin” of a topsides facility, which can be used by operators for decision-making support and asset optimization.
The digital twin, constructed in parallel to the physical topsides asset during the design and build phases of the project, consists of two main components: a process twin and a plant twin.
The process twin is a digital replica of the automation system that enables testing of the process and control infrastructure, safety logic and operating procedures before start-up. The plant twin is a smart 3D viewer for the entire topsides that provides access to equipment, maintenance, and real-time operations data for construction, commissioning and maintenance planning.
The digital twin’s intelligence derives from the capability to interpret raw data through a variety of analytics, some of which are automated and others that are offered as an OEM service. The automated analytics are independent of equipment vendor and based on statistical analysis of real-time data from the instrumentation and automation system. For critical equipment like compressors and turbines, Siemens supplements this layer of monitoring with OEM-connected services for predictive diagnostics, spare parts management, and outage planning.
These tools provide operators with the capability to run virtual what-if scenarios on the asset and better understand the impact of different operating conditions on the process, equipment and maintenance.
Siemens is able to deliver the intelligent digital twin today. We have moved beyond talking about delivering real project savings.
Siemens MindSphere will become the single client interaction portal for the intelligent digital twin. MindSphere is Siemens open, scalable IoT operating system and offers built-in cybersecurity, data hosting and management, and an open application development environment so that all parties (including third party vendors) can seamlessly connect to industrial equipment and develop and run custom-built applications.
The foundation of Topsides 4.0 is the workflow and data integration of standalone point solutions that Siemens has successfully delivered to oil and gas customers over many years. Although the integrated approach is new, the digital solutions that comprise it have a strong track record of success. For example, mid-size FPSO projects (100k barrels per day) are realizing significant benefits from embracing the Topsides 4.0 approach, including the following.
- Shorter project development cycles – Using configurators and engineering templates, Topsides 4.0 allows operators to develop an industry-compliant solution from user requirements, without the need for a full functional specification.
Additionally, through digital engineering and fabrication of equipment, the delivery time of long lead items such as rotating machinery is significantly reduced. Developing a digital twin of the topsides facility also enables clients to virtually test and commission their topsides before construction of the actual facility is complete. All of these advantages result in a faster time to first oil due to a three-to-nine-month reduction in project cycle time.
- Reduced CAPEX – Topsides 4.0 helps reduce CAPEX by enabling operators to evaluate more design scenarios during the conceptual phase and identify a configuration that minimizes investment and thereby increases project returns. Furthermore, automation designs that support remote control and monitoring mean smaller crew sizes and, therefore, less space required for offshore living quarters, while virtual commissioning reduces yard and offshore commissioning costs. This can generate CAPEX savings on the order of $10 – $15 million.
- Reduced OPEX – With Topsides 4.0, Siemens maintains the facility’s digital twin by continuously monitoring engineering and maintenance data, providing clients with visibility to their equipment and asset performance in near real-time. Engineers have ready access to as-is asset data and can plan maintenance campaigns based on condition monitoring analytics. Additionally, the integrated control and safety system solution is designed for remote control and monitoring so that clients can improve safety and reduce costs by shifting manpower resources from offshore to onshore. The combination of these benefits can potentially reduce OPEX by more than $100 million over a 10-year period.
Developing a digital roadmap
Digitalization should not be viewed as an IT initiative, but rather a business transformation initiative enabled by IT and should strategically align with the customer’s business drivers, level of in-house expertise and how far along they are in the digital transformation process. For every customer, this will be different, and it will change over time. So should their digital solutions. The oil and gas industry is only at the very start of the digitalization S-curve and no one can fully foresee how it will ultimately shape the industrial world.
Digitalization is therefore about customers embarking on a journey with partners to continuously transform and make their businesses more competitive. We will harness the value of the digital transformation process when we work collaboratively, starting at the concept phase of projects and continuing throughout the lifecycle of these assets.
With Topsides 4.0, Siemens aims to help its oil and gas customers achieve this by embracing the opportunities and power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.