Beyond If Beyond If

How Digital Twin Models Enhanced This System’s Reliability

What if we showed you how Jacobs’ Replica™ digital twin software helped one client visualize options to enhance its air supply system, testing and analyzing solutions to find the most reliable, cost-effective option for the future?

Wastewater treatment banner

Every minute, more than four billion gigabytes of data is generated around the world, more than 40 times the number of stars you can spot in the night sky, according to Domo.

And with unplanned failures and disruptions, shrinking budgets, and workforce shortfalls – staying competitive in a changing, data-driven world is even more challenging.

Part of the issue organizations face is uncertainty about how processes or systems will perform under future conditions. Without insight into potential new solutions and their performance, the risk to implement can easily outweigh future benefits.

But what if we showed you how Replica™ – Jacobs’ digital twin solutions software – simulates performance over extended time periods and leverages large quantities of data to pinpoint potential pitfalls before implementation and secure more reliable options for tomorrow?

  • 30 +

    year old blowers simulated to enhance reliability and more cost-effective operation

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    successful project applications around the globe

“Replica Air is challenging the status quo on how we analyze our aeration system processes by enabling the process to be viewed holistically. With the ability to replicate the system behavior through time, we have a deeper knowledge of the system and better perspective needed to improve system performance.”

Matt Deavenport

Jacobs Digital Twins Technology Subject Matter Expert and Lead Developer

Introducing Replica Air™

Replica dynamic simulation offers a unique method for modeling a realistic system behavior, integrating hydraulics, instrumentation, controls and process treatment in a customizable platform. Because all system aspects are integrated into one model, Replica models provide more realistic representations of processes than traditional static analysis methods. Replica models can incorporate and react to system conditions that change with time, such as flowrate or water quality, where static analyses require assumptions for average and worst-case values.

One component of the full Replica suite, Replica Air™, even adds functionality to support compressible fluid (i.e. air) performance modeling. Replica Air simulates all aspects of an air supply system including pipes, valves, diffusers and a variety of blower technologies.

This air modeling integrates flow and pressure calculations and can support blower sizing and optimization – a benefit across many industries. And coupled with Replica’s water quality and detailed controls modeling capabilities, this means that wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) blower optimization can be performed to significantly reduce the facility’s energy demand.

See for yourself…

Simulating a change

Looking to increase reliability of its WWTP aeration system, one of our clients turned to the power of Replica to test and analyze ‘what if’ scenarios before a potential system upgrade.

Their existing blower facility features five blowers which supply air to aeration basins to power the WWTP’s two treatment process trains, filter backwash and post aeration. These blowers are more than 30 years old, have exceeded their normal life expectancy and are expensive to operate and maintain.

While four were operational, none were capable of being operated in automated control mode.

Given the critical importance of the aeration system to maintaining treatment and meeting water quality objectives, regaining confidence in the reliability and operation of the aeration system was imperative.

A breath of fresh [Replica] Air

Using Replica Air, we modelled the aeration system for both activated sludge treatment process trains, including a new proposed blower building. We used the digital twin to test blower technologies, provided by a number of manufacturers, against the full range of operating conditions and identified configurations that had gaps in coverage. Then, we programmed automated controls into the model to confirm how the blowers and airflow control valves will behave and be controlled to maximize efficiency, leading to development of preliminary control narratives.

We simulated each configuration in the model using a full-year flow and loading pattern to develop an accurate lifecycle cost comparison for each blower alternative based on capital cost, maintenance cost, power usage and individual blower run time. The life cycle costs of each alternative were weighed with non-financial criteria developed with the client, to provide a final selection of the recommended blower technology and configuration.

Using this data, we also coupled the dynamic wastewater process model to the Replica Air model, allowing for loadings, airflows and air demands to be fully understood. This all-inclusive modeling approach along with the massive quantities of data gave operations staff and our team a complete understanding of the system by combining hydraulics, controls and process in a single interface. This digital twin of the activated sludge treatment process, first utilized by our team for system analysis and design, can continue to support our client as part of operator training exercises and ongoing system analysis.

The future is now

By 2021, Gartner predicted that half of large industrial companies would use digital twins – driving 10% improvements in effectiveness. Through Jacobs’ Replica digital twin software, we’ve already harnessed the power of these capabilities on more than 200 projects around the globe.

For one confidential industrial client, we helped deliver process improvements to reduce energy consumption by 33%. In the automotive space, our tools helped increase client productivity by 20%, and we’re using the tools on projects around the globe, from recreating historically significant landmarks and using geospatial data to develop city-wide digital twin models to visualizing more resilient water supplies for drought-plagued communities.

Interested in learning more about how Jacobs transforms intangible ideas into intelligent solutions for a more connected, sustainable world?

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