Shell to pilot Digital Twin Technology at Singapore-based Pulau Bukom Manufacturing Site

Shell Pulau Bukom Production Unit - image via Shell

The energy company is starting a four-year project that aims to respond to conditions based on data from over 20 different technology platforms.

Energy company Shell will implement a manufacturing site technology, named “Digital Twin” at Singapore-based Pulau Bukom Manufacturing Site.

The Pulau Bukom Manufacturing Site is an integrated refinery and chemicals site in Singapore. It is Shell’s largest petrochemical production and export centre in the Asia Pacific region. The facility can process up to 500,000 barrels of oil per day. The site supplies products to various Shell businesses in Singapore, including Retail, Commercial and Chemicals. Approximately 90 per cent of Bukom’s products are exported to countries in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

This pilot program is a four-year project that will respond to conditions based on data from over 20 different technology platforms thanks to the Digital Twin technology.

Digitalisation solutions at Royal Dutch Shell plc’s Pulau Bukom site

Shell is on its way to implement a wide range of digitalisation solutions to change the way production is being achieved on site. These solutions include drones, 3D printing and augmented reality at its manufacturing plants.

With the addition of the Digital Twin technology, the company will achieve a complete virtual representation of the physical elements on site. In an industrialized AM factory for instance, such technology helps to optimize the design and streamline production processes—even before production starts.

As far as Shell’s site is concerned, the company explained that live information of the plant operations can be provided to engineers via augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), reducing the need to step into the plant. When troubleshooting an issue, various options can be tested in real-time on the virtual platform, before deciding on a solution. This improves operational efficiency, preventing downtime, reducing maintenance costs and allows effective real time collaboration between experts and operators. By 2025, all critical field operations at Pulau Bukom will be performed through tablets.

 “Shell Bukom’s digitalisation plans, anchored by the Digital Twin, is a shakeup of the plant. With the setup of a virtual plant through the Digital Twin, and by equipping staff on site with a tablet, we are creating a new culture of allowing work to be done remotely with the provision of complex data at their fingertips. This is an exciting time as we are not just building digital assets, but also a new digital culture. We are telling our staff to pursue their interest of coding applications to make their jobs easier, to think about becoming data scientists or software engineers, all while working in a manufacturing plant with our playground of data,” said Narayanan Valayaputtur, Projects and Engineering Manager.

Pulau Bukom’s position as an integrated oil and petrochemicals hub in Asia Pacific, strong track record in piloting path breaking digitalisation projects and its long history, were reasons why it was selected to pioneer the Digital Twin. Large amounts of data from the 59-year-old site will be mapped into the Digital Twin’s processor for stronger machine-learning. A full rollout across the island is expected in four years, as the workforce capabilities and digital assets mature. This is expected to result in approximately 25% improvements in productivity, reliability and safety.

We are encouraged that Shell has taken this bold step of piloting the “Digital Twin” solution in Singapore, setting a strong example of how the Energy and Chemicals sector can adopt technology to move towards Industry 4.0 standards,” said Damian Chan, Executive Vice President, EDB. “Shell’s holistic approach of investing in digital processes, technologies and training to support the workforce is timely, especially with the acceleration of digitalisation in established industries today, and will help advance Singapore’s push for digital transformation across sectors.

For further information about “Digitalisation in the AM industry”, read our dossier.

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