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Transforming commissioning with digital twins

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Asset commissioning can be a time-consuming, labour-intensive process, particularly when the asset in question is complex. Mott MacDonald Bentley was responsible for the design, build and commissioning of a £37M sludge treatment plant at Five Fords near Wrexham, Wales. The sludge treatment process requires complex conditions and a controlled environment to operate successfully. Mott MacDonald and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water wanted more certainty during this commissioning stage to mitigate risk and help make the lengthy programme shorter.

To deliver these outcomes, a digital twin approach was adopted. The development of the twin was driven by two key questions: ‘what if we knew how the plant was going to perform in the future?’ and, ‘what if we could simulate operating conditions virtually before making decisions?’. A platform to capture, process and visualise the data was also required, and as a calibrated, real-time model to provide analytics.

Our digital solutions platform, Moata, processes billions of data points daily and can integrate with multiple software packages and machine learning modules, making it a powerful tool built for scale. To dynamically model the complex biological process, the industry-leading wastewater simulation software Biowin was used. Developed by EnviroSim, Biowin was integrated with Moata to provide real-time insight into plant operation.

Our outcome-focused approach means we work collaboratively to integrate the best solutions. Moata builds on existing intellectual property to provide users with a new layer of functionality, enabling them to predict, simulate and implement operational changes via a user-friendly interface.

The digital twin solution is helping to optimise performance, reduce energy use and cut chemical consumption. “The Five Fords digital twin has allowed the team to move from reactive to proactive decision-making, it is creating a real step-change in how we manage our assets” said MMB Design Manager, Dan Buxton.

This is one small part of creating a wider digital twin for all water and wastewater assets, building an ecosystem of supply, distribution and treatment assets and integrating catchment-wide aspects of the water cycle. Collaboration and strategic partnerships will help ensure we access the best expertise on a global level.

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