Digitalization is a recognized key enabler to achieve the ambitions for the topsides project. It is a prerequisite for other initiatives in realizing a low manned facility with efficient solutions for remote operations and efficient offshore maintenance. A shared digital twin during execution will make sure that suppliers, engineering contractor(s) and fabricator(s) work closely together on the same set of information.
We have defined a digital twin as “a digital representation of a physical (or to-be physical) asset. The digital representation provides both the elements and the dynamics of how an Internet of things device (e.g. sensors) operates and lives throughout its life cycle”. It comprehends digital engineering, digital supplier interaction, digital fabrication, and digital tools to facilitate remote inspections.
Digital engineering comprises the structure and granularity of the different databases used during project execution and the way the databases exchange information to become 1) a high-quality digital twin for the execution phase and 2) high quality input to the digital twin used during operation of the plant. A data centric approach must be taken from day one with a central multidiscipline engineering database being the single source for tagged objects and a multidiscipline 3D model being the single source of truth for bulk items and the physical properties of tagged objects. For example, automate the 3D design to the largest possible extent based on knowledge-based engineering systems, automatically transfer of documents and object information from contractor databases to client databases, supporting a continuous LCI process, provide paperless issue of IFC information to fabricator, offer overview of information across multiple database systems by the use of BI (Business Intelligence) and DWH (Data Ware House) technologies.
Digital execution of the fabrication process comprises the reception of engineering information (drawings and/or object information), reception and preservation of goods, pre-fabrication, erection/assembly and as built updating of the digital twin. It is crucial for fabrication to use the digital twin built during engineering for their fabrication and the fabricator should have the possibility to update the digital twin with as-built information. The 3D model should be available with close to real-time updates between all contractors. This is especially important between the fabrication- and the engineering offices. When design in the 3D model is defined as IFC (Issued For Construction) the right to modify this design (e.g. a piping area line) should be handed over to the fabricator. The fabricator can then perform it’s shop engineering and as-built updates directly in the 3D model.
Frontrunners in digital fabrication may also have digital twins of its yards, enabling effective combined
merging of the digital twin of the asset from engineering with the yard digital twin. This enables fabricator to
simulate project execution and optimization of building methods and yard logistics by using real time IoT to
gather real-time data from various sources.
Use of digital tools to facilitate remote inspections with capabilities to organize pre-inspection relevant documentation and documentation from inspections based on readily available hardware platforms (Smartphones, tablets, laptops), as well as vast reduction of inspection costs, reduced travel cost and lost travel time, increase frequency of short and specific inspections to avoid delays and quality cost.