From a 3D Plant Model to an Autodesk Forge®-based OPC UA-connected Digital Twin for Simulation


Autodesk is one of the world’s leading CAD/CAM software companies. Autodesk develops software tools extensively used in process industry, such as AutoCAD Plant 3D, a software tool for creating P&IDs and 3D models of production plants. Autodesk also develops Forge, a platform of web service APIs for integration of Autodesk components into web or mobile applications.

To show the power of the Forge platform we wanted to demonstrate how easy is to build a Digital Twin which is connected to its twin in reality. Semantum has knowledge and experience in simulation, especially with Simantics and OPC UA which allowed them to build the Digital Twin Showcase based on Forge. Semantum did not only build the Digital Twin, they also did a research project with a pilot plant to show the benefits and possibilities of a Digital Twin. The biggest benefit of this type of a Digital Twin is the predictability of the plant behavior during operation: any change of the parameters controlling the plant can be examined before execution.

Reiner A. Meyer-Röessl - Global Business Development Process Plant at Autodesk

Building a Simulation-Based Digital Twin from a 3D plant model

One of the biggest challenges for implementing a Digital Twin based on simulation models of the plant is laborious model generation. To tackle this, Semantum Model Broker System was used to automatically access 3D plant model information and to automatically generate the dynamic simulation model of the process.


The automatically generated model is turned into a Digital Twin utilizing Semantum’s Simulation-Based Digital Twin and then integrated with Autodesk Forge for enabling intuitive visualization through its 3D plant model. OPC UA interfaces were used for seamlessly connecting Forge and the underlying Simulation-Based Digital Twin with the physical process DCS. Autodesk Forge is a powerful tool which allow their users to build solutions based on the same technology that Autodesk is using for their own cloud-based solutions.


A Simulation-Based Digital Twin with 3D interfaces

In this demonstration application, a laboratory-scale process was utilized as the target system to demonstrate the approach described. The simulation model of the Digital Twin was automatically generated from a 3D plant model developed in Autodesk Plant 3D.

The resulting Digital Twin is a web user interface where the 3D plant model gives context to the information coming from the real plant and from Live Virtual Twin. In order to ease navigation for the system operator, 3 hotspots of the process are placed into the interface. These hotspots are process variables that are controlled by the control application of the plant and that are of high interest for achieving efficient and safe plant operation.




The results of this work were presented at the Autodesk University 2018.

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