The world of utilities and communications (U&C) companies is becoming increasingly complicated. The amount of new technologies available to utilities has exploded over the past several years, and then there’s the challenge of integrating these technologies with existing core systems and business processes.
Quite often, these technologies are isolated from one another, which leads to disconnects in business processes. What’s the solution? The ability to unify these technologies all at once. One way to accomplish this is through what is known as a digital twin.
Digital twins, explained
Though the digital twin concept can be defined in a number of ways, Cesar Lucchese, managing director of Lucchese, describes it like this: “The digital twin is a digital representation of the way the various network elements and participants behave and interact, enabling an infinite range of ‘what if?’ scenarios to be tested.”
Essentially, the use of a digital twin allows companies to make better-informed decisions and react to issues and changes more rapidly.
The idea of a digital twin isn’t new. U&C companies have always had their network management systems and GIS models. The difference is they can now analyze these models to see if they behave as digital twins and if they’re an accurate reflection of the as-operated network.
Furthermore, organizations with digital twins have an advantage over others still using traditional decision-making methods because they can harness the collected data and capabilities of multiple operational systems. As the digital twin accommodates more systems and interrelationships, it becomes more accurate and can better support decisions and capabilities.
Five pillars of digital twins
There are many different systems that contribute to the creation of digital twins. We closely studied our customers and identified five primary pillars that form digital twins in our core area of expertise. They are:
- Enterprise network model
- Advanced distribution management system
- Enterprise resource planning
- Workforce management system
- Customer information system
These pillars can work independently from one another, but together they form an enterprise ecosystem in which each pillar contributes to the larger system. It’s no longer useful to think of these systems as siloed processes. This enterprise ecosystem is your digital twin. v
How Intergraph G/Technology® can help
The first step toward building your digital twin foundation is your enterprise network model. At Hexagon, we understand the importance of planning, designing, and documenting your network. Our Intergraph G/Technology solution was built on nearly 40 years of experience deploying GIS for U&C companies, and we carry that experience into the digital twin space as well.
The benefits of G/Technology include:
- Live data – Maintaining live data is an essential requirement of a digital twin. G/Technology removes the limitation of having to rebuild connectivity after editing, meaning data is always live.
- Robust network model – The system must be capable of modeling assets and their use. G/Technology has the most comprehensive and robust network model on the market. This allows operators to maintain a definitive source of reliable, location-based information that describes the facility network and its functional connectivity – both physical and logical.
- Reliable source of data – The twin must mirror your business processes. G/Technology is configured using metadata stored in conventional database tables, making customization easy and offering increased ease of integration. Rules-based tools speed design and editing while validating data and enforcing corporate engineering standards. It ultimately delivers a unified, open source of current, reliable, and consistent network data.
- Information sharing – Finally, G/Technology provides task-oriented tools to support the needs of different users, from designers or system administrators in the office to field engineers using laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It also supports wider enterprise access and integration using web services to ensure data quality while accelerating information flows.
These benefits are essential to building a robust enterprise network model, but they are only useful if the underlying technology can be trusted. Luckily, the biggest benefit of G/Technology is its reliability.
Because digital twins provide a fully immersive understanding of assets, you need the most comprehensive and reliable tools available. Build your organization’s best enterprise network model with Hexagon’s G/Technology solutions.
To learn more about our Intergraph G/Technology suite and how it can benefit your organization and your customers, visit our product page.