Imbibing Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has been the latest trend by industrial pump manufacturers and service providers. Big Data analytics coupled with cloud computing, cyber security, and cognitive machine learning will be the driving force for implementing IIoT in the manufacturing sector. The pump industry, facing challenges such as sluggish end-use demand and rigid energy efficiency laws, has been converging towards leveraging the rewards of IIoT.

Flowserve, a leading manufacturer of pumps, valves,and other flow control products, has been at the forefront of embracing IIoT. In 2016, Flowserve Corporation signed an enterprise license agreement with ANSYS, a leading simulation software provider for digital twin technology. Flowserve, along with ANSYS, has successfully adopted the digital twin technology in the pump industry. Flowserve showcased the benefits to the audience at LiveWorx 2016, an IoT event in Boston, Massachusetts.

What is Digital Twin?

Digital twin means a virtual copy of the pump in operation to measure, monitor, and analyze the operational performance through continuous collection of real-time data. The concept of digital twin has existed since the days of space exploration, however, only recently has there been a surge in adoption of virtual twin technology by pump market leaders, such as Flowserve Corporation and Grundfos. Evolution of sensor technology, investment in infrastructure to capture digital data of physical product, and innovation in analytical software platforms over the years is helping adoption of digital twin technology in the pump industry. The technology behind digital twin pump involved placement of pressure sensors along with accelerometers and actuators in the pump. Real-time data is collected by an analytical platform, and, with the aid of cloud computing, it is possible to bridge the physical and digital worlds; thereby, aiding in creation of a virtual model of the product. The virtual pump is capable of mirroring the operational patterns, detecting errors, and suggesting relevant remedial actions.

Benefits of Digital Twin:

The linkage between the real product and its virtual twin has the following advantages.

  • Predictive Analysis and Maintenance: Digital twin empowers monitoring of the operational performance as the analytical platform collects the sensor-enabled data in real time. Any operational anomalies in flow rate, pressure, pump efficiency, motor power consumption, and others can be effortlessly detected before occurrence of pump failure. Ability to predict failure enables preventive maintenance of the pump. Reasons for pump failure such as cavitation, insufficient Net Positive Suction Head (NPSH), varied pressure, and liquid flow can be detected at an early stage. Ability to detect variances and causes of failure at an early stage can result in substantial life cycle cost (LCC) savings for the pump. Maintenance cost and downtime cost, which account for the largest cost components of the total cost of ownership (TCO), can be reduced significantly.
  • Remote Access: By providing remote access, digital twin eliminates the need to be in proximity of the product. Operational parameters for measuring, monitoring, and analysis can be remotely accessed. Occupations that have difficulty in accessibility, such as installation of multiphase booster pump in the subsea system, inspection and repair of pumps in explosive gas atmosphere of coal mining, and pump installation for underground mines can use the benefits of digital twin technology.
  • Elimination of Rapid Prototyping: Rapid prototyping by conventional manufacturing and additive manufacturing has been imperative during the design phase of pumps. However, with the advent of digital twin technology, rapid prototyping and the cost associated with it can be eliminated. Digital twin technology can simulate the working conditions for a product and scrutinize its performance, leading to corrective design modifications. Based on the analysis of data from simulated digital twin, factors such as type of raw materials, functionality, and performance can be predefined without actually prototyping a product. In addition, time spent in prototyping and testing can be noticeably reduced and consumed elsewhere productively.

Potential Challenges in Complete Adoption of Digital Twin

Even though the concept of digital twin was introduced by Dr. Michael Grieves in 2003 at the University of Michigan, only recently have a few manufacturers adopted the technology.  As the infrastructure to collect digital records of physical product was limited and was still evolving, it prolonged the time to adopt digital twin technology by manufacturers. Challenges still persist that can potentially hinder the implementation of digital twin technology. Following are some of the challenges faced by pump manufacturers in embracing digital twin technology.

  • Unpreparedness to Converge in Terms of Practice and Technological Infrastructure.

Adoption of IIoT technology, such as digital twin, depends on the flexibility of already existing manufacturing structures. There is a varying level of preparedness across the manufacturing ecosystem for adoption of newer technologies. For instance, some manufacturers are using 3D drawings for design purpose, whereas, the rest are still designing products with 2D drawings. There is a vital need for the manufacturing system to extract and integrate varying technologies across the supply chain. Acceptance of digital twin technology will require transformation of the entire supply chain. Participants in different tiers of the supply chain need to embrace new technologies for successful employment of digital twin. Manufacturers need to invest and equip themselves with the latest technological infrastructure for implementing technologies associated with IIoT.

  • Cyber Security: Having talked about interoperability, the next challenge that remains for using digital twin is cyber security. Deployment of IIoT technologies, such as digital twin, has vulnerabilities. Level of accessibility and security of the product’s classified information has to be secured through application of cyber security technology.

In addition to interoperability and security, implementation of digital twin will also depend on the scale and complexity of the product or project. For instance, digital twin of boiler in a power station is reasonable; however, digital twin of an entire working power station will have its limitations.

What Does the Future Hold?

Output of the collaborative work by ANSYS, Flowserve Corporation, National Instruments, PTC, and Hewlett- Packard Enterprise (HPE), has attracted the industry by showcasing the benefits of digital twin. There has been a surge in such collaborative work towards digital twin and the following are some of the key developments.

  • Digital Wind Farm: GE is building a first-of-its-kind digital wind farm that will involve digital twin of 2MW and 3 MW modular turbines. With the help of Predix TM, an industrial, cloud-based platform as a service (PaaS), GE expects to process and analyze data for multiple combinations of 20 turbine configurations within the digital wind farm landscape. The information will help GE and other turbine manufacturers involved in the pilot to prioritize remedial plans and optimize the power yield of wind farms. Similarly, Havoygavlen Wind Park in Norway, run by Arctic Wind, utilizes digital twin technology with help from Fedem Technology AS.
  • Similarly, pump manufacturer Grundfos is expected to work with ANSYS, on developing digital twin of pump.  Stanley Black & Decker Inc., the leading manufacturer of industrial power tools, has created digital twin of assembly lines in one of its factories. This led to an improvement in labor productivity and output by 12% and 10%, respectively.
  • Organizations, such as SAP, through its platform SAP Leonardo, are using the whole gamut of IIoT by offering integrated services of digital twin, machine learning, shared ledger technology, and blockchain.

Unlocking the real value of digital twin requires a holistic approach in managing and consuming the real-time data. For complete implementation of digital twin technology, there is a need to have robust acceptance of digital twin across the supply chain. Key participants of the pump supply chain, such as pump manufacturers, distributors/dealers, and EPC/OEMS, need to digitize. Benefits of digitization of supply chain, such as precise demand projections, reduced lead and delivery times, and centralized inventory management, among others, are expected to result in substantial savings for supply chain participants. However, implementation of digitization across the entire supply chain is expected to have its own hurdles, especially from market participants in the emerging economies. Neglecting the benefits of digital twin, such as remote accessing, predictive analyzing, and subsequent cost savings, is expected to impact the competence of the pump supply chain. Digital twin is expected to transform the entire supply chain, spreading its application to various products, processes, and industries.

About Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

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