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Operations & Maintenance

Going Beyond the Digital Twin with Smart Digital Reality™ blog series: Operations

In this four-part blog series, we have covered Hexagon’s digital, data-driven, Smart Digital Reality (SDR), which enables Hexagon’s customers to globally leverage data throughout their asset’s lifecycle. This has included the Smart Digital Reality for managing industrial assets data and documents, as well as some of the key value drivers in project execution. In this last blog of the series, we will look at the value of handing over the data to operations for continued management and maintenance of the facilities using Hexagon’s Smart Digital Realty. 

Project Data Handover 

More and more owners and operators are implementing digital twins of their facilities to use the data created during the project phases for operations and maintenance of the facilities. As this trend grows, owners are realizing the importance of setting the requirements for the data needed at handover from their contractors in the upfront planning stages of a project. These data handover requirements are critical to ensure the owner/operator is receiving the data needed to efficiently operate and maintain the facilities as well as perform the continuing capital projects and turnarounds throughout the life of the facilities. 

Hexagon’s Smart Digital Reality environment provides a means for all the relevant project data to be managed throughout the project, as well as streamlines the handover process by simply changing the status of the data when it is ready for handover. Owners have seen handover costs run as much as 10% of the total project cost. By using the Smart Digital Reality environment, many of the manual tasks are eliminated and most if not all the others are automated. Kayed Larson of Brownfield Solutions LTD expresses many of these challenges and how they are overcoming them using Hexagon’s technologies in an interview called “The Extinction of Handover in Integrated Environments” .

Single Pane of Glass for Operations and Maintenance 

Hexagon classifies the operations, maintenance and security of assets as the “Digital Asset” within the Smart Digital Reality environment. The SDR improves safety and productivity by facilitating interconnectivity and contextualization of data from all the different sources of the digital asset. This gives the users a web-based “Single Pane of Glass” to access the asset information they need in the context of their role. 

Long gone are the days of searching through flat files, paper documents and siloed CAD storage databases. Or having to log into multiple systems to find those independent nuggets of information needed to make quick and accurate decisions in the field. The SDR environment ingests data from many sources, such as engineering data, reality capture data, IIoT and sensor data, operational data, etc. This streamlined access to relevant information, contextualized based on user roles, not only improves efficiency but also enhances safety and productivity. Users can make quick and accurate decisions in the field, armed with a holistic view of the data pertinent to their tasks. 

A study by McKinsey & Company highlights a common challenge faced by many organizations: the substantial time and effort spent on searching for data and cleaning it for usability. The study stated that “users can spend between 30 and 40 percent of their time searching for data if a clear inventory of available data is not available, and they can devote 20 to 30 percent of their time to data cleansing if robust data controls are not in place." 1 One of the key value drivers of the Smart Digital Reality is validation of the data within the system. This validation process is essential for ensuring that the data used for decision-making is accurate and reliable. It’s one thing to be able to find information quickly;  quite another to trust the information when it is found. 

Moreover, the efficiency gains facilitated by the Smart Digital Realty environment are substantial. By reducing the time needed to find and validate information, personnel can reclaim a significant portion of their working hours—up to 50%. This time can then be redirected toward performing value-added tasks, thereby improving overall productivity and operational effectiveness. 


Along with all the data available directly within the Smart Digital Realty environment, the SDR also has integration capabilities facilitated through Web APIs and Extensibility. These integration capabilities allow users to access information from other systems, such as operational management systems, maintenance systems, knowledge management systems, historians, etc., from the same SDR “Single Pane of Glass,” providing a comprehensive view of the digital asset. Through these integrations, it also allows users to access information from those other systems without needing to log into the SDR directly.  

An example would be an operator making rounds and notices a piece of equipment making an unusual sound. He creates a new log record from within the round application where he documents the noise, even attaching a short audio file of the noise. He has effectively escalated the issue so it shows on the handover, and someone will have to respond. This eliminates the chance of the issue getting missed. Now, personnel in the control room can see the entry and can research past log records, trend rounds readings, search for information on the equipment in the SDR. This comprehensive access to historical data and real-time information enables the team to formulate a well-informed plan of action promptly. 

By enabling such seamless collaboration and information exchange across different systems, the Smart Digital Reality not only enhances efficiency but also improves the overall responsiveness of the operational and maintenance teams. The ability to gather, document and act upon information in real-time ensures that issues are addressed promptly, leading to more reliable operations and maintenance processes. 

On-going Capital Projects and Turnarounds 

The availability and reliability of asset information are crucial not only during the initial operations phase but also throughout the entire lifecycle of the facility. In the context of ongoing capital projects, turnarounds and unplanned events, having access to accurate and comprehensive asset information is invaluable. These activities, whether planned expansions or urgent repairs require quick decision-making, efficient resource allocation, and effective collaboration among all parties involved. 

The practice of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) comes to mind here and is usually thought about for larger capital projects. However, the principles can apply to any size project as the intentions are to align the objectives, interests, and practices of all parties involved. It’s all about collaboration, communication, and transparency. It encourages early involvement of key parties, fosters open communication and emphasizes shared risk and reward. 

The Smart Digital Reality environment facilitates this type of collaboration to ensure project success. By providing a centralized platform where all relevant asset information is accessible and reliable, it enables seamless communication and coordination among different teams and stakeholders. Whether it's sharing engineering data, vendor information, warranty details or any other critical asset-related data, the SDR environment ensures that all parties involved in the project have access to the same, up-to-date information. 

This level of collaboration and data transparency not only improves decision-making but also enhances the overall efficiency of project execution. With real-time access to accurate information, project teams can make informed decisions, allocate resources effectively, and respond promptly to any changes or challenges that may arise during the project lifecycle. Ultimately, this integrated approach, facilitated by the Smart Digital Reality environment, contributes to the successful execution of projects and turnarounds, ensuring that they are completed efficiently, on time and within budget. 


Decommissioning is not talked about a whole lot, but it is a critical phase of a facility’s lifecycle, especially in industries like nuclear energy, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage and chemicals, where safety and regulatory compliance are paramount. Proper decommissioning involves the safe disposal and management of various assets, including materials and equipment that may be contaminated or pose environmental risks. 

Having accurate and readily available asset information is essential during the decommissioning process for several reasons: 

Regulatory Compliance: Regulatory agencies impose strict guidelines regarding the decommissioning of industrial facilities, especially in sensitive sectors. Detailed and well-documented asset information is essential for demonstrating compliance with these regulations. 

Safety: Ensuring the safe handling, packaging, and transportation of contaminated materials and equipment is crucial for the safety of workers, the public and the environment. Access to reliable asset data helps in identifying potential hazards and implementing appropriate safety measures. 

Efficient Planning: Decommissioning projects involve meticulous planning, including resource allocation, logistics and waste disposal. Accurate asset information streamlines the planning process, enabling efficient scheduling of activities and allocation of resources. 

Cost Management: Decommissioning can be a costly process, and efficient cost management is essential. Reliable asset data helps in estimating costs accurately, avoiding unexpected expenses and optimizing the use of resources, ultimately reducing the overall decommissioning expenditure. 

Environmental Impact: Proper disposal of contaminated materials is vital for minimizing the environmental impact. Comprehensive asset information aids in tracking the disposal process, ensuring that materials are handled and disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner. 

Legacy Documentation: During decommissioning, it's common for older facilities to lack updated documentation. Having a centralized digital repository of asset information helps in preserving institutional knowledge, ensuring that vital information is not lost during the decommissioning process. 

Incorporating digital technologies, such as the Smart Digital Reality environment, can significantly enhance the efficiency of decommissioning projects. By centralizing all relevant asset data, this technology can provide a comprehensive overview of the facility's assets, making it easier to identify, track and manage materials and equipment during decommissioning. This not only simplifies the process but also contributes to the safe, compliant and cost-effective conclusion of the facility's lifecycle. 


Hexagon's Smart Digital Reality environment not only simplifies data management but also revolutionizes how organizations approach decision-making processes, ultimately leading to significant time savings, improved data accuracy and increased productivity for personnel involved in operations and maintenance activities. Hexagon's Smart Digital Reality environment represents a significant advancement in the management and optimization of industrial projects and assets.

Some of the key features and benefits include: 

Integrated and Real-Time View: The Smart Digital Reality offers an integrated and real-time view of both physical and digital aspects of industrial projects and assets. This comprehensive perspective is essential for effective decision-making, as it allows stakeholders to understand the current status and performance of projects and assets in real-time. 

Connects Disparate Datasets: By connecting disparate datasets across different work processes, the Smart Digital Reality eliminates data silos. This interconnected approach ensures that relevant information is seamlessly shared and utilized, fostering collaboration and enhancing efficiency. 

Data Governance: Allows for robust data governance principles, ensuring that engineering and operational information are managed, integrated and contextualized according to the appropriate work procedures and regulatory requirements. This adherence to governance standards is crucial for regulatory compliance and data integrity. 

Contextualization and Visualization: The Smart Digital Reality contextualizes and visualizes data, providing a clear understanding of the industrial assets' status and performance. This visual representation simplifies complex data, making it accessible and actionable for stakeholders at all levels of the organization. 

Automation and Analytics: The infusion of intelligence into the Smart Digital Reality environment enables the automation of processes and sophisticated analytics. By automating tasks and leveraging advanced analytics, the system not only enhances efficiency but also reduces human intervention, errors and risks. This move toward automation aligns with the trajectory toward a fully autonomous future. 

Holistic Management: Smart Digital Reality enables holistic management of industrial portfolios. By identifying challenges and areas of opportunity it empowers organizations to make data-driven decisions aimed at enhancing efficiency, profitability, safety and sustainability. 

Digital Projects and Digital Assets: By contextualizing, visualizing and enhancing work processes throughout the lifecycle, Smart Digital Reality transforms industrial projects and assets into intelligent and autonomous "Digital Projects" and "Digital Assets." This transformation signifies a shift toward more efficient, data-informed and automated operations and management. 

In summary, Hexagon's Smart Digital Reality environment provides a powerful platform that not only consolidates and contextualizes data but also leverages automation and analytics to transform industrial projects and operating assets into intelligent, autonomous entities. This evolution represents a crucial step toward more efficient, profitable, safe and sustainable industrial operations. 


About the Author

Tom Goff is a Senior Industry Consultant with Hexagon’s Asset Lifecycle Intelligence division with more than 30 years of experience across multiple industries (Oil & Gas, Chemical and Nuclear) in engineering, construction, project management and information management, and has also led operational excellence initiatives. As a Senior Industry Consultant with Hexagon, Tom leads consulting initiatives with customers in their digital transformation journey. He has a bachelor’s degree and MBA from Capella University, is a certified PMP and LSS Black Belt, and a veteran of the U.S. Army.

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