Digitalization in Process Industries
Strategic Alliance of Siemens and Bentley Systems will Drive New Business Value
In a strategic alliance, Siemens and Bentley Systems plan to drive new business value by accelerating digitalization to advance infrastructure project delivery and asset performance in complementary business areas, including process industries. This cooperation aims to leverage new cloud services for a connected data environment to converge respective digital engineering models from both companies. In addition to these elements of the agreement, approximately €70 million of secondary shares in Bentley’s common stock have been acquired by Siemens under a company program that will continue until such time as Bentley Systems’ stock is publicly traded. CHEManager asked Greg Bentley, CEO Bentley Systems, and Eckard Eberle, CEO Siemens Process Automation, about the benefits of this cooperation to process industries. The interviewer was Dr. Volker Oestreich.
CHEManager: In November 2016 Bentley and Siemens started a strategic alliance agreement to bring more value to the customers by driving digitalization. What are the main levers in this strategy and what do Siemens and Bentley bring to this alliance?
G. Bentley: Bentley and Siemens have had a long history of collaboration and technology exchange, and you could say that we are adjacent parts of the supply chain to the owners and contractors who design, construct, and operate the world’s infrastructure. Our expanded alliance will converge Siemens’ capabilities in functional (2D) modeling, and Bentley’s advancements in 3D physical modeling, especially for new jointly offered cloud services to extend the reach and benefits of digital engineering models. I describe our “going digital” objectives as “industrializing BIM” (Building Information Modeling), for better capital project delivery, and as “leveraging digital DNA” for better asset performance.
E. Eberle: As Greg just mentioned, we are creating a real integration between our 2D and 3D solutions and laying the foundation for the digital twin. A digital twin holds enormous benefits for designers and operators of process plants, and we help our customers to leverage the full scope of these benefits. The aim of this strategic alliance is to achieve systematic optimization of process plants throughout their entire lifecycle. This is accomplished with the interfaces between Comos as a central data management system for engineering and operation on the one hand, and Bentley Systems’ 3D modeling products on the other. These enable integrated engineering and integrated operation.
With respect to process industries, where do you see the main benefit for the customers?
G. Bentley: Bentley’s contribution is to bring to bear also the work of the engineers who designed, analyzed, and constructed the plant, so that their digital engineering models can serve as the connected frame of reference, and baseline, to now enable the “productioneering” of improved reliability and throughput.
For industrial plants, the continued integration of Bentley’s OpenPlant with Siemens’ Comos software now extends from “conceptioneering” for front-end design optimization, through raceway and cable management. The main benefits are the savings in cost and schedule, from being able to consider schematic and physical engineering decisions in the same context, across project and asset lifecycles
E. Eberle: Let me give you an example. In the early phases of a project the linkup between Comos Feed (2D) and Bentley PlantWise (3D) ensures that information needed for simulation and optimization is available earlier and in greater detail. The information within Comos Feed, for instance about flows and flow directions as well as about the equipment and its dimensions, is seamlessly available in Bentley PlantWise for automated installation engineering, pipe routing and cost estimation. The actual space requirement and the corresponding structural work can then be planned more accurately.
The plant lifecycle can be up to 40 years long, so every plant needs to be upgraded and retrofitted during this time. How can digitalization help in this field?
G. Bentley: One of the breakthrough advancements that we are applying in collaboration with Siemens is our ContextCapture software for “reality modeling”, which processes digital photography to quickly yield engineering-ready as-operated 3D models for a brownfield plant. The resulting reality meshes combine images which can be “continuously surveyed” from any drone, camera, and/or smartphone, along with any available laser scans, into an immersive 3D environment. At the Hannover Messe this year we were showing how reality modeling enables Comos Walkinside to be applied within any existing plant for visual operations and training and we integrated reality modeling with other digital engineering data for a MindSphere based proof of concept, to demonstrate the convergence of OT-IT-ET.
E. Eberle: Modernizing and maintaining process plants is a great challenge. Such projects are often difficult to plan and calculate – one reason being that it is not uncommon for considerable differences to arise between the originally planned and the actual state of the plant. Changes implemented over the years are not entered at all or not entered in full in the plant documentation. Thanks to the object-oriented data model and the open system architecture in Comos, data and documents from the engineering and operating phases can be easily imported into the plant lifecycle management system at any time. Data from a wide range of sources, for instance from Bentley Systems, is maintained centrally, enabling enhanced maintenance engineering so that plants can be put back into service more quickly.
Successful plant operation is due to transparent modernization and maintenance. The resulting digital twin provides a solid basis for efficiency-boosting measures and facilitates the retrofitting or extension of existing plant sections, thus simplifying and accelerating modernization projects. When the plant is running again, XHQ visualizes and monitors key operational and business indicators practically in real time to secure the competitive edge accomplished with the modernization.