Digital twin technology is emerging as the unsung hero of facility maintenance and service, enabling organisations and their stakeholders to avoid potential downtime and even catastrophic failure. Sarika Andhee, marketing leader for field services in Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric, contextualises digital twin technology’s importance in facility maintenance in this opinion piece. 

Current facilities status 

The neglected maintenance of facilities, equipment downtime and electrical outages have significant financial costs for organisations, such as manufacturing plants. Many engineers, like those working in the power systems domain, are unfortunately limited to working with static paper or PDF-based electrical single-line diagrams (SLDs), which are often outdated. This increases the difficulty of properly maintaining and updating the electrical systems documentation and is a risk to operations. 

Real-time solution 

Digital twin technology allows facility management teams to gain deeper insight using dynamic, real-time simulation that is enhanced by intelligent data, and which can run predictive simulations, i.e., it can demonstrate the effect of adding an additional motor/load to the existing electrical reticulation and model the effects of that modification. 

This is immensely valuable to maintenance teams, avoiding any equipment problems and failures, improving uptime, and aiding external service providers who provide maintenance and support to facilities. 

Benefits of digital twins 

  • “What if” scenarios allow teams to simulate different situations and gain insight into the impact of a facility’s performance without the risk of downtime and potentially injury to personnel. 
  • It enables an updated reference for electrical single-line diagrams, so facility personnel can ensure optimal performance. 
  • An interactive digital SLD allows maintenance teams to easily access equipment documentation and datasheets. 
  • Analysis of new equipment and changes helps to identify the impact on a facility’s overall performance, streamline diagnostics and make informed decisions on upgrades and modifications. 

Next-generation predictive solutions such as digital twins that use reliable, real-time, high-quality archived data to act as a simulation platform are undoubtedly becoming an essential tool for maintenance teams. They offer invaluable insights that enhance quality, performance and efficiency of facilities while adapting to ever-changing conditions and constraints. This technology is fast becoming an effective way to maintain a facility’s assets and reduce the equipment and personnel risk.  

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to https://www.se.com/za/en/ for the information in this editorial. 

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