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  • By Dan Smith
  • In Blog
  • Posted 24/05/2022

Wind turbine makers recently announced at Wind Europe 2022 that, “We’re in trouble.” To realize Net Zero 2050 ambitions, renewable electricity needs to be cheap enough to displace fossil fuels everywhere which means projects need to become lower cost. But the combination of a global pandemic, a war in Ukraine and a race to electrify everything is sending material prices through the roof. This is creating a destructive loop that is claimed to be reducing jobs and investment in Europe.

When challenged, our leading simulation consultant, Steve Jones, recently explained that we need to use every tool at our disposal to:

  • reduce costs and increase efficiency of manufacture and supply;
  • understand disruption factors and likely range of variability, to increase confidence;
  • use the increase in confidence and reduced costs to build an industry that can thrive, and
  • snowball rather than be in a destructive loop

We recently sat down to explore how we have done this before with Royal HaskoningDHV Predictive Digital Twin solutions and how this could be applied to the renewable energy supply chain.

Reduce costs and increase efficiency of manufacture and supply

The European offshore wind supply chain has the ambition to industrialize to build 450GW by 2050.

When OneWeb Satellites wanted to scale satellite production like the renewable energy sector needs to scale production, they used our Predictive Digital Twin software to create an accurate masterplan and complete production visibility. “We were designing from start-up and needed assurance that what we were creating would deliver products on time to our customer,” said Gwendolyn Sisto, Operations & Planning Manager at OneWeb Satellites.

We started working with OneWeb Satellites in 2017, and since then Gwendolyn and the team have used our Predictive Digital Twin to design two factories – an initial one in Toulouse and a subsequent one in Florida. She says:

“The model takes the guesswork out of manufacturing. It continues to play a vital role in our business forecasting because it enables accurate, system-level thinking. The fact I was able to use this technology from the beginning and embed it in our day-to-day work has made a huge difference to our success.”

Understand disruption factors increase investment confidence

Scaling and industrializing the offshore wind supply chain is essential to bring down costs and deploy new technologies like floating offshore wind.

Hayward Tyler is a supplier of performance-critical electric motors and pumps to the global energy sector that wanted to plan a similarly ambitious business growth strategy. Using our Predictive Digital Twin they created a Virtual Factory. This presented a highly visible picture of its manufacturing operations as they evolve over the next 5-10 years. Their Master Plan was based on this which allowed them to communicate their vision to employees, customers and investors.

The Virtual Factory highlighted exactly what would be required to meet demand and maximize profitability. Multiple influencers of plant capacity and performance were factored in, including factory layout, equipment requirements, shift patterns, and peaks and troughs in demand. Martin Clocherty, the Manufacturing Systems Director at Hayward Tyler, told us:

“It’s exciting to see clearly where the ongoing investment in our facilities will take us. The model tells us when spare capacity will run out, when we need to upgrade machines, or when a shift pattern change is needed.”

Use the increase in confidence and reduced costs to build an industry that can thrive

As Wind Europe points out, collaboration and communication will be essential to successfully industrialize Europe’s offshore wind industry.

The deep insight that Hayward Tyler gained from our Predictive Digital Twin allowed them to create a robust, accurate plan. This could pre-empt forecast changes in the business, ensuring productivity remains high and costs are minimized.

It also meant they could present a highly credible plan to stakeholders; both internally and externally. The robustness of their Master Plan provided transparency and demonstrated competency to their key banking partner, instilling confidence. In parallel, it was presented to their in-house manufacturing workforce and sub-contractors, and significantly helped Hayward Tyler to engage, motivate and secure buy-in from these internal stakeholders.

Martin told us that,

“Testament to its success is that our CEO has mandated that simulation must be used as the foundation for planning across our other facilities, so we are looking to extend the reach of predictive simulation across the organization - starting with our US based operation.”

Snowball rather than be in a destructive loop

Like the renewable energy sector, automakers are also vulnerable to souring metal prices.

When Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK wanted to hit their targets, fulfil demand, plan longer-term and reduce costs they implemented 5 Predictive Digital Twin solutions. These have been used to simulate production schedules, avoid unnecessary investment, identify bottlenecks, and optimize production processes.

Martin Perkins, Industrial Engineer, Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK explained that:

“We’re quite a lean department and this has helped us develop models which are now used regularly to make business decisions across Nissan in the UK. Thanks to the modeling, we’ve been able to implement steady improvements in our processes, and simulation has become a key part of Nissan’s adoption of Industrial IoT and smart technology.”

We’ve had similar success with an offshore wind jacket fabricator that needed to deliver against two contracts from one site. As well as a turbine tower manufacturer that needed to know if a new contract was worth bidding for or not. But these are best left to another time.

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Dan Smith is the Digital Renewable Energy Commercial Lead at Royal HaskoningDHV. He helps companies across the renewable energy supply chain solve problems using leading Digital Twin technology from Lanner and Royal HaskoningDHV. To learn more and connect with Dan, find him on LinkedIn here.  


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