What is Plant Modeling?

Plant modeling is the process of creating a digital replica of every process, piece of equipment, and workflow within a plant. Process manufacturing plants are already fully equipped with sensors which gather data from every inch of the system; with plant modeling, engineers draw on that data to build an accurate representation of everything that takes place within the system and constantly update it in real-time.

Plant modeling is the foundation for many applications of industry 4.0, such as digital twins, predictive monitoring, integrated systems, and remote troubleshooting and repair. A digital twin is essentially a fully modeled plant with the addition of constantly updated process data.

Plant models are also used for plant design, with engineers producing a trustworthy model of the plant alongside the design process. This way, they can identify any issues with the structure of the plant, view the impact of design decisions on human traffic flow and employee activities, and check that every element within the plant can interact effectively and efficiently. Any problems can be spotted and rectified before construction begins.

Why is Plant Modeling Important for Process Manufacturers?

Plant modeling drives a number of valuable use cases that help process manufacturing plants to increase productivity, plant efficiency, production quality, and profitability.

These include:

  • Combining sensor data and accurate plant modeling with advanced analytics to produce real-time insights into bottlenecks and inefficiencies, enabling the early detection and correction of part failures and performance gaps.
  • Using the data from plant models to identify areas of highest value for automation that removes the risk of human error and reduces the need to expose human workers to hazardous situations.
  • Allowing manufacturing executives to simulate and explore different courses of action to predict outcomes and optimize process flow, resource utilization, logistics, and supply chain decisions.
  • Visualizing energy usage to locate leaks and waste and act to correct them.
  • Enabling smart glasses and augmented reality (AR) programs for remote, realistic employee training, especially for hazardous processes.
  • Verifying that systems are designed properly and work together smoothly with all elements of the plant, before deploying them in the plant itself.
  • Simulating different maintenance schedules to identify which is the most effective.
  • Planning ahead for major repairs and upgrades in order to streamline them and reduce disruption to plant operations.

How Can Process Plants Implement Plant Modeling?

Identify use cases

Although every plant model can help drive productivity and efficiency within the plant, different models can be more effective for certain use cases. Taking the time to consider when, where, and why you’ll utilize your plant model can help direct you to the one that is simplest, smoothest, and most accurate for your needs.

Choose the right software 

There are many different plant modeling software options on the market. It’s important to choose one that is easy to use, powerful enough to meet your needs and integrates with your existing infrastructure.

Select the right model

There are a number of different approaches to plant modeling, including 2D modeling and 3D modeling. Plant models are becoming increasingly complex, but the more complicated the model, the harder it can be to validate the conclusions it draws. Simple models can be powerful and effective.

What are the Benefits of Plant Modeling for Process Plants?

Plant modeling can enable process plants to take advantage of cutting-edge technology like digital twins, smart glasses, and advanced analytics, thereby boosting plant productivity, efficiency, and profitability while reducing costs, increasing throughput, and extending your competitive edge.