Executive Summary

The next time you are tempted to scold your son or daughter for spending too many hours playing videogames, think twice: they may be training to be the best workers of the 21st century and even replace your position…

Collaborative Work Environments (CWE) combined with Telepresence and Mixed Reality technologies are revolutionizing the design, engineering and building large petrochemical projects. This paper provides an overview of the technologies and describes how the design, implementation and control processes in these projects can be performed more safely and accurately at lower cost.

Over three decades ago, businesses experienced a leap in performance, code reusability and maintainability when their information technologies moved from numbered line to object-oriented programming (OOP). We are now poised at the cusp of another quantum change in efficiency as a result of technology. In this new era data travels from "cradle to grave." From design, construction or assembly, to use, service and final dismantling of refineries and industrial facilities, the physical world of discrete elements will have an accurate digital equivalent. Thanks to powerful computing and Big Data warehousing, complex structures with millions of individual parts can now be tracked and displayed like intelligent LEGO® structures.

The vision is that by adopting an open, agree-upon, and already-existing platform for technical communication among different software vendors, huge improvements in efficiency results from enabling a platform or "communal space" that interacts seamlessly with remote presence tools, and a global talent pool working side-by-side with local workers and designers in a virtual fashion. The technology for these real time virtual worlds is already commonplace in online video gaming. Together with the ability to log the activities in this parallel virtual but completely accurate digital world using Big Data, an exhaustive register from initial design through construction, operation and eventual dismantling may be used for detailed analysis, training and automation of preventive maintenance and safety, resulting in lower costs from improved efficiency and better management and enhanced safety.

Extending this model and common language of data communication to include various industries, such as engineering, construction, aviation and military operations provides economies of scale in the adoption of an open, global and flexible platform for use by all, but without restricting innovation or compromising security.

3D provides spatial information as in existing CAD systems, adding the time element ‘4D’ incorporates project management and logistics. The next logical step includes cost and supplier information for informed complete life-cycle management of the equipment, project or facility, or ‘5D’. Uniquely tagging each object is ‘6D’ for real-time RFID asset management and Facilities Management using Big Data enhanced prognosis of maintenance and avoidance of failures, and finally ‘7D’ for artificially intelligent, self-managing and self-repairing systems, on the way to sentient systems of machines.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.