Protecting real-world infrastructure with Sensat’s digital twins 

What They Do

Sensat’s digital twin software helps program managers overseeing infrastructure delivery bring together different teams to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

“Sensat does one thing incredibly well – it allows you to see your project,” said James Dean, CEO and co-founder. “When you oversee projects involving different teams, it’s challenging. Teams often rely on several tools to get work done, and important information can stay hidden from other people and project managers.”

Sensat helps streamline project management and boost collaboration by visualizing all project information together in context. This provides clarity for everyone involved, meaning less time is spent hopping between tools, asking for updates or searching for the latest versions of files.

“For the large (and complicated) programs we’re delivering, it allows much more certainty. Now people can get together, they can see ideas in context, and they can collaborate,” Dean said. With Sensat, teams can overlay project designs and comment directly on plans. Crucially, this helps teams identify and mitigate risk more effectively, leading to safer worksites and better environmental outcomes.

What We Do

 

National Grid Partners (NGP) serves as the eyes and ears of the business, searching for innovations to keep National Grid at the forefront of the energy industry. As the corporate investment and innovation arm of one of the world’s largest investor-owned energy companies, NGP is helping drive the transition to a more digitized, smarter, and renewable energy system. NGP does so by investing and collaborating at the intersection of emerging technology and energy.

 

Use Case – Electricity Transmission

National Grid faced some unique challenges in 2020 when it needed to connect a new power cable for a data center at Didcot, a historic town in Oxfordshire, UK, and upgrade a substation at Fiddlers Ferry Power Station in Cheshire. COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and third-party access challenges made physical access difficult, while delivery timelines remained tight. That’s when National Grid turned to Sensat.

National Grid needed to survey the sites and provide contractors with data to design solutions. Sensat offered a platform that could ingest multiple visual datasets, then share that data across a project team including several contractors and subcontractors, allowing them to participate in the optioneering process simultaneously.

Instead of the traditional approach of frequent, in-person team meetings, Sensat enabled National Grid to overlay designs from the contractors and subcontractors against LIDAR data captured at the Didcot site and topographic data captured via drones.

Jordan Darley, connections engineer at National Grid, says the platform provided a richer picture of options for the project, and the drone survey saved a remarkable amount of time. Using traditional methods, “Didcot would have taken weeks to access and survey, if not longer,” he says. With Sensat, the survey took less than a day, and data was delivered within two weeks.

Not all projects require comprehensive data collection, however. At Fiddlers Ferry, National Grid already had all the data it needed, but it was scattered across a variety of file formats that were often difficult to access and coordinate. Here, Sensat demonstrated the flexibility of its platform, helping Darley’s team visualize their existing data and collaborate more effectively. Checking safety clearances to electrical conductors took just a couple of clicks; by contrast, on-site measurements might have required scheduled power outages, which are difficult to secure.

Dean said that by “seeing their project digitally,” the teams at Didcot and Fiddlers Ferry were able to collaborate virtually and get a greater sense of certainty — all while ensuring worker safety during the pandemic.

Toward Brighter Futures

Sensat’s software also allows delivery partners to coordinate work across disparate tools and applications. Instead of replacing all that technology, people from different teams can work together in a single Sensat environment, where they could share content, communicate and collaborate without needing to switch tools.

“This is especially effective when projects are subject to many constraints and interfaces that are hard to conceptualize without seeing them,” says Dean. “And when projects are hard to access – either because of their size, the fact they’re remote or because of landowner issues – planning digitally in Sensat just makes more sense. “

The lessons learned to date have exciting implications when considering long-term planning for sustainability. Dean says one of the greatest difficulties facing industries with significant environmental impacts is a lack of accurate data. The information deficit leads to a less-than-ideal decision-making process.

That’s finally starting to change. “We have a platform that allows you to bring your information together, and that collaboration ultimately leads to more certainty and better outcomes,” said Dean.

Fewer problems at the project site leads to significant improvements in environmental impact. With additional customer connection projects planned at Elstree, Hertfordshire, and proposals pending for additional deployments, National Grid is preparing for a cleaner, more sustainable future with Sensat in its corner.