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Safety risk was always a primary concern in the energy sector. According to OSHA, electrocution, falls, explosions, and environmental stress are common challenges in the energy sector. Apart from the threat to human life and limb, these incidents were also responsible for low productivity and inefficiency on the factory floor. But the good news is AR application technology can address these issues effectively.

As the energy sector stands on the cusp of a new age of innovation, it has realized the need for technologies like digital twins to streamline operations and improve safety and productivity.

Digital twins can create a virtual replica of a plant or grid to help providers model different scenarios, make better decisions, and overcome efficiencies.

But what are digital twins? How does this technology drive safety, efficiency, and effectiveness in energy and other critical sectors? And what’s the specific role of augmented reality (AR) in digital twins? We will answer all these questions for you in this blog.

What Is A Digital Twin, And Why Is AR The Modern Face Of It?

Digital twin provides a digital representation of physical assets, processes, and systems. It gathers and synchronises the data it receives from multiple sensors and enables the human workforce to monitor them in near real-time in the digital world before having to do so in the real one. Authentic, near-real-time updates allow operators to optimize operations, maintain physical assets, and ensure safety on the factory floor.

In the modern avatar, a digital twin can also embrace Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Indeed, AR could be considered the visible face of the digital twin because of its ability to augment the physical space with rich digital information. This helps improve human-machine interactions. Companies like Duke Energy and Korea Electric Power Corporation are already using it to improve efficiency. Research shows that it can improve efficiency by 15-20% as well as drive up safety and process adherence.

Five Innovative Applications Of AR

Let’s find out how energy companies can use AR for their tasks in this heightened context.

1. Factory floors

According to PWC, 28% of companies are using or are planning to use AR on the factory floor to improve operators’ efficiency. It provides visual and interactive instructions to operators on using, maintaining, repairing, and operating equipment. It streamlines processes like assembly work, field service, and repairs and helps the operators complete the tasks fast. For example, operators can use AR to get information and guidance on repairing different parts. It can provide them with directions on using the proper materials, tools, and steps at every stage of the process to complete the tasks without any errors.

2. Remote operation center

Remote operation centers allow companies to streamline processes, improve productivity, and decrease errors. The supervisors can also save time travelling to the energy plant and guide the operators from remote locations. They can send step-by-step workflows, detailed guides, and manuals to operators in real-time. The operators can use them to perform key tasks. AR plays a significant role in managing the remote operation centre. It overlays the real-time data on top of the live video feed and provides a detailed understanding of how the equipment works and what’s going on. It can also create simulations of different scenarios to enable the operators to test various procedures before implementing them on expensive machines. AR improves collaboration between operators and the experts like managers and engineers and facilitates seamless information sharing between them. It accelerates the decision-making process.

3. Remote support center

Apart from offering guidance, AR can also provide remote support to operators in the field. It became a part of operations during the pandemic when operators, engineers, and managers had to maintain social distance. There are various ways in which companies can use AR. They can use it to identify potential hazards and threats and alert the operators on time to prevent accidents. They can also use it to troubleshoot problems in real-time and minimize downtimes. Field staff can be guided by remote experts using “see what I see” mechanisms overlaid with rich information. With improved collaboration and support, the engineers can save time visiting the site, and operators can resolve their issues quickly and get back to work.

4. 3D work

AR and 3D technology can improve overall operations, maintenance, and decision-making. Let’s find out how both can improve operations and safety together.

  • Maintenance: 3D technology creates a detailed 3D model of equipment and facilities to help operators visualize and understand the equipment better. AR can overlay the information about an equipment’s condition on top of the physical asset to help the operators identify problems, and fix them.
  • Safety: 3D technology and AR can create simulations of various scenarios to prepare the operators for potential hazards. AR can provide real-time information about the hazards and explain the safety procedures to minimize risks.
  • Data visualization: 3D technology can help visualize data from different sources, while AR can overlay that information on top of the physical assets to help operators and managers analyze the data deeply. Data visualization can help improve the overall efficiency and performance of the equipment and facilities.
5. General use across different sectors

The benefits of AR and Digital Twins are not limited to the energy sector. Several sectors, such as manufacturing, electronics, construction, and healthcare, use these technologies to improve operations and safety. Take the example of Shell Chemical. The company uses digital twins in its construction project in Pennsylvania to monitor the progress at the site and identify issues. They also use it to capture all the underground utilities during operations and maintenance. Bosch uses digital twin at its Dresden plant and features over 500,000 3D models to complete maintenance and optimize work at various production lines. These industries use these technologies to visualize facilities, identify issues, guide workers, and share information between stakeholders without any friction. AR and Digital Twins have made operations geographically agnostic. That’s a huge win for companies that plan to expand their business in remote locations.

How Can The Energy Sector Implement AR And Digital Twins?

Technologies like AR and digital twins are not ‘good-to-invest’ options. They are now essential to help energy companies stay relevant in a hyper-competitive landscape. Digital revolution is necessary to build smart power plants, manage renewable energy, comply with regulations, mitigate risks, and deliver superior customer experience.  Unfortunately, most energy companies are reluctant to embrace them due to complications or fear of change.

At Pratiti, we understand these concerns. We use our expertise and experience to build cost-effective solutions, such as:

  • Enterprise applications
  • Asset management
  • Operations & maintenance
  • Plant configurator
  • Remote operations center
  • Portfolio management

We also help with:

  • Asset monitoring and management
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Performance Intelligence
  • Smart meters and grids

Besides that, we have also built energy accelerators like Apollo that use patented digital twin technology to generate actionable closed-loop insights for the industry. We help energy companies thrive and stay ahead of the competition.

Want help in implementing digital twin and AR solutions in your company? Get in touch with us to know more.

For more information please visit our webinar link

Nitin Tappe

After successful stint in a corporate role, Nitin is back to what he enjoys most – conceptualizing new software solutions to solve business problems. Nitin is a postgraduate from IIT, Mumbai, India and in his 24 years of career, has played key roles in building a desktop as well as enterprise solutions right from idealization to launch which are adopted by many Fortune 500 companies. As a Founder member of Pratiti Technologies, he is committed to applying his management learning as well as the passion for building new solutions to realize your innovation with certainty.

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