A screenshot of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform

Beyond Digital Twins: Helping Electric Utilities Maximize Asset Performance

Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides solutions not only for utility assets, but also for managing the complexity of the entire enterprise.

Electric utilities have the reputation of being too conservative when it comes to adopting new technology. Changing business drivers, such as increasing demand, electric vehicles (EVs), sustainability and resiliency, and smart devices are forcing utilities to change the status quo. Renewables with wind and solar, and battery storage are forcing utilities to transform from a rigid linear company to smart decentralized systems with distributed energy resources (DERs). With social networks and increased customer expectations, utilities have to be more agile and responsive to minimize downtime and enhance user experiences. Government regulations, to ensure safety and protect customer and asset data, are becoming numerous and complex.

Utilities must use information technology (IT), such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), big data, cloud, analytics, HPC, and even social media, to address these challenges and convert them to opportunities. In the short term, this is needed to improve regulatory compliance, process efficiency, and cost control. In the long term, this would serve as a platform to innovate and compete by creating with new business models.

One word can be used to sum up data management in utilities over the last 60 years — "documents." A lot of the information managed is in static documents in disparate systems. Studies show users at utilities spend up to 60% of their time looking for the right data. Even if the data is located, their confidence is low that the data is accurate and up-to-date.

The answer to these needs, both platform, technology for innovation, competitiveness and data management is a 3DEXPERIENCE twin. Similar to, but more comprehensive than what many call a "digital twin," a 3DEXPERIENCE twin is a virtual representation of the real-life systems that companies can use to improve their process efficiency, reduce risks, lower costs, and innovate with new ideas. A 3DEXPERIENCE twin helps companies connect the virtual and real worlds. A 3DEXPERIENCE twin helps emulate and better understand the permanently evolving real in the virtual, as well as plan and simulate in the virtual to adapt and improve the real.

Flowchart showing value creation

Dassault Systèmes' 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which powers a 3DEXPERIENCE twin, is a unified digital environment that helps companies break silos and connect data from disparate systems. In addition to comprehensive lifecycle management with full traceability, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides role- and permissions-based access where each user can access the data and applications. Dashboards, applications, and widgets can be configured based on user preferences to view or edit the data in the appropriate context. By providing seamless and secure access to data, the platform provides a high-quality user experience and an unparalleled collaborative environment. By connecting all stakeholders in a common data environment, users have saved more than 20% of time searching and locating the data of interest, while having confidence that they have the latest accurate and relevant information with full traceability throughout its lifecycle.

A screenshot of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform

Leading companies across all industries have adopted Dassault Systèmes' 3DEXPERIENCE platform. ExxonMobil uses the 3DEXPERIENCE platform as a unified digital environment, where its employees can collaborate in real time. Engineers, operations and maintenance personnel will be able to access a single source of information describing the complex assets for which they have responsibility, in order to improve business process control and performance.

Utility assets are not only physically and logically connected with each other, but are also spread over a large geographical area as well as in dense urban areas. The location of assets and contextual information about their environment becomes very critical. 3DEXPERIENCE twins are able to model and show the entire environment, locate the asset in context of its system, region, and environment, helping companies take high-value and high-risk decisions. A leading European electric utility company uses a 3DEXPERIENCE twin to classify and manage their assets accurately and integrate this with their legacy applications to streamline process execution, work orders, and maintenance procedures. The same environment is used to work on future smart grid projects by evaluating different scenarios and performing impact analysis. This has reduced the total cost of ownership (TCO) over the life of the assets.

A screenshot of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform

The concept of a platform is not only limited to a database. It includes a systems engineering solution that uses an intelligent data model allowing utilities to model their entire networks as systems with logic and behavior. Using the systems engineering solution, utilities can emulate the complexities of real-world utility networks in a virtual world. Companies can simulate the behavior of assets and networks under different operating conditions, both nominal and non-nominal modes. A leading European power transmission service provider has used the systems engineering solution to specify and validate their smart grid control strategies. They created a comprehensive electrical network model, including controls and power communications using modeling standards and libraries. The models are used to perform grid stability analysis and plan the dimensioning of the grid, enabling right decisions early in the engineering phase.

Dassault Systèmes' 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides solutions not only for utility assets, but also for managing the complexity of the entire enterprise. Workforce planning solutions optimize the enterprise resources, making sure the right personnel (based on skills, qualifications, preferences, and labor regulations) and resources are available at the right time at the right place. Leading utility companies use the solution to forecast resources, schedule planned and unplanned maintenance, and plan long-cycle projects, like construction or outage work. The same optimization environment is used for short cycle planning, as well as tactical or contingency planning to evaluate different scenarios and make the best decisions.

A 3DEXPERIENCE twin is a decision support system that helps electric utility companies increase the value of their assets while reducing the risks.

  • Efficiency is improved.
  • Downtime is reduced.
  • Costs are lowered.
  • Risk to assets is minimized.
  • Customer satisfaction is increased.
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