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Managing The Design of Asset Twins

In a prior blog post, I spoke about Element Unify™ at a high level, explaining the need for Asset Twins and why we need to CONNECT to existing data sources, MANAGE the building and operationalizing of Asset Twins, and easily SHARE the data about these Asset Twins so they can be used for a multitude of use cases.

One of the most critical pieces of this process is designing the right Asset Twin. Without the right operational data forming a consistent data model of what your instrumentation, equipment, and/or processes are, you’ll be hamstrung to perform simple comparisons, let alone wide scale advanced analytical projects.

Element Unify  is uniquely poised to help you build as simple or complex of a representation of your standard assets through our Asset Template design capabilities.

Requirements of Asset Twin Design

Before we talk about features of Asset Templates, it’s important to understand our perspective of what an Asset Template represents, and how we ensure that these models can be encoded in software. Asset Templates define a common standard for like-equipment, like-instrumentation, or like-processes. These are not templates of an entire plant or facility, nor are they templates that define the structure. What they are is the smallest unit of common data representations that you want to use as a basis of comparing like-things.

This means that the templates need to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Define a standard for how all like objects must be encoded. This standard must contain 00s if not 000s of identified characteristics that are consistently represented across like objects.
  • Contain subject matter expertise about the specifics of how the objects should be encoded
  • Allow for the composition of nested templates (templates that contain other templates)
  • Allow for templates to inherit the properties of other templates (templates reference or derive characteristics for another template - a Venn diagram of common characteristics if you will)
  • Store and manage metadata about the template
  • Track the historical version of these templates

Asset Templates define a common standard for like-equipment, like-instrumentation, or like-processes...the smallest unit of common data representations.

Element’s Approach to Asset Twin Design

The emerging concepts of digital twins are designed to support consumer technologies or singular objects like wearables, smart home devices or wind turbines. To consistently model process or discrete manufacturing operations these simpler data models will not suffice. What’s needed are Asset Twins. Asset Twins target your operational challenges, acting as an information map that defines how production systems are related to each piece of instrumentation, equipment, or an entire process unit.

Element Unify approaches building Asset Twins from the ground up, ensuring industrial information can be encoded in standardized Asset Template models. Foundationally each template is a structured, graph-based data model. Having a graph-based data structure allows for us to create “has-a” relationships between templates (meaning that it supports nested templates), as well as “is-a” relationships between templates (meaning that it supports template inheritance).

Graph-based structures provide a lot of flexibility, but to enforce standardization it is important to have some standard schema. Within the graph resides a set of user-defined models that represent equipment, instrumentation, and processes - which is our Asset Template. These models allow for a rigid standard structure to be defined, and can also encode mathematical relationships between the collection of attributes that represent the Asset Template.

In addition to the graph model and the standardized template structure, we understand that the model keeps changing over time and that these models must be searchable. Enterprise level features like governance, version management, authorization, metadata search, standards adoption, and many other capabilities are at the core of what Element Unify offers in its ability to design Asset Templates.

Element Unify’s Asset Twin Design Features

With our approach out of the way, it makes sense to dive deeper into what Element Unify offers when it comes to designing the template for consistent Asset Twins. This is broken down into 4 areas below.

  • Asset Attributes: Represent 000’s of measurements, calculations, and metadata that define an asset and represented in the Asset Template
  • Enterprise Calculations: Relate attributes to one another using arithmetic and if/else expressions
  • Asset Templates: Standardized representations of common equipment, instrumentation, and processes
  • Template Library: Pre-loaded with 200+ Asset Templates- import, store/catalog, duplicate, and share templates

Part 2 discusses in detail how each area contributes to building Asset Twins.