Chinese firms showcase value of digital twinning in hydropower plants, metal factories

11th October 2023 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Deputy Editor Online

Chinese firms showcase value of digital twinning in hydropower plants, metal factories

Photo by: Reuters

As infrastructure engineering software company Bentley Systems gears up to host its 2023 Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure, on October 12, three Chinese finalists in the process and power generation category have illustrated the efficiencies that can be achieved with digital twinning.

The finalists presented their projects to a panel of independent judges to determine the ultimate winner of the category, having used digital technologies such as Bentley Infrastructure Cloud, iTwin Platform and Bentley Open Applications to maximise efficiency and achieve cost savings for clients.

For example, technical and digital service provider Capital Engineering & Research Incorporation (Ceri), which won an award at the 2021 Going Digital awards, created a digital model providing centralised control for a 2.7-million-ton-a-year steelmaking plant, in Shandong, China.

The 12-billion yuan plant covers an area of 215 ha and encompasses more than 20 types of processes.

To design a digital twin plant, Ceri used the Bentley AssetWise and iTwin software. The digitalisation of the plant has, over the last six months, resulted in improved accuracy of product quality prediction, while training efficiency for employees based on the digital twin plant has increased by 60%.

The client has also managed to decrease spare parts quantities as a result of the digital twin system.

In turn, Shanghai Investigation, Design & Research Institute (Sidri), which is part of the world’s largest green energy group China Three Gorges Corporation, undertook a digital asset management project based on digital twins for two hydropower projects.

The projects in question, the Xiangjiaba and Baihetan hydropower plants are the eleventh- and second-largest hydropower plants in the world, respectively.

Sidri said in its finalist presentation that such an endeavour involves collecting and managing massive amounts of engineering data, which necessitates data specifications to constrain the scope and standards of data collection.

Sidri ultimately created two engineering information models containing more than two-million components, using various applications and software programmes, including Bentley Open Applications and Bentley Building Information Modeling (BIM).

Through iTwin, the BIM model of the plants, GIS data and drone oblique photography could be integrated, making the visual management of digital assets for large-scale projects possible.

The digital twin hydropower plants have enabled a 10% increase in data organisation efficiency, a 30% increase in employees’ work efficiency, a 1% reduction in project cost and a 14% reduction in operational and maintenance spend a year.

Sidri said digital assets associate isolated and scattered information, improve data integrity and accuracy, and help users increase efficiency and save costs.

Moreover, Shenyang Aluminium & Magnesium Engineering & Research Institute (Sami), as a provider of digital technology solutions for the whole lifecycle of projects in the aluminium industry in China, created a complete digital model for a 3.9-billion yuan, 750 000 m2 aluminium factory of Shanxi Aluminium China Resources.  

Sami set out to link static information, such as design and construction, to the model and form a professional digital delivery outcome.

With a project turnaround time of 18 months, Sami used Bentley software and engineering database to assist. The company reported that the software has since its installation improved efficiency by more than 15%, compared with the traditional three-dimensional design of the plant.

Notably, Sami used Bentley Open Applications to develop a construction safety simulation and training system based on virtual reality technology, which has since improved on-site safety and inspection practices.

Using Bentley’s software, Sami was able to build an intelligent digital management system that improved operational and maintenance efficiency, as well as reduced management costs.

Sami’s digital twin factory allows for a real-time view of equipment parameters and operating status. The company can provide comprehensive management and precise prediction and analysis of production operations in aluminium smelters.

Shanxi’s comprehensive management costs have since reduced by 10%, or six-million yuan, while its non-predictive equipment failures reduced by 40%.

Bentley Systems’ yearly awards programme honours the work of Bentley software users that advance infrastructure design, construction and operations across the world.

Twelve independent jury panels, representing 12 award categories, will be deciding the fate of 36 finalists, from more than 300 nominations submitted by 235 organisations from 51 countries.

*Marleny Arnoldi is a guest of Bentley Systems and Seequent at the 2023 Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure, being held in Singapore this week.