Data-Rich 3D Models Elevate Oil Platform Design

Data-Rich 3D Models Elevate Oil Platform Design

Advancements in shore and offshore platform design for the oil industry have improved consistency, accelerated workflows and allowed better collaboration across distances. Some methods include 3D models filled with valuable data points. How can these enhancements improve operations?

Shortening Offshore Platform Design Time Frames

Applying 3D models to the onshore or offshore oil platform design process can provide many time-saving benefits, depending on the specific techniques used. Sometimes, numerous designers access cloud-based design platforms to test various iterations and get feedback from other team members.

If a company has people working in various time zones, progress can happen around the clock, and geographical distances become nonissues. Some tools also have project management features, allowing authorized users to see when other designs get updated and how they differ from previous versions.

Such information supports smooth collaboration and accountability. The digital trail of who submitted specific designs at particular times makes it easier for managers or others overseeing projects to determine which parties can give them additional details about individual designs.

Data-gathering processes have also become faster, making grabbing the information needed to improve or take inspiration from existing designs easier. Laser scanners allow people to save hundreds of thousands of dollars on pipe-fitting costs. After engineers review the captured data, they can begin pipe fabrication immediately and feel confident in the measurements given via the scan.

Previous methods required pipe fitters to stretch string or tape between flanges to measure for the required component sizes. However, that meant making only one pipe at a time, adding to the overall construction time frame. Many design tenders from oil and gas companies require designers to have laser-scanning tools, as executives know how much faster and more accurate these tools make the process.

How Are Offshore Oil Platforms Built?

Offshore oil platform construction happens in port cities. However, the design stages offer more geographic flexibility. These platforms are either fixed or floating structures, with the former type featuring steel or concrete legs anchored to the seafloor. Some floating versions also use anchors and wire ropes to remain stable. Alternatively, programmed thrusters achieve that outcome.

Executives may also choose semi-submersible types with internal ballast systems and buoyancy chambers. These components allow for the raising or lowering of the rig to the desired height.

Once engineers, designers and other relevant parties know the rig type, they’ll evaluate other offshore platform design requirements. They may consider which materials will withstand the environment or meet a client’s minimum life span requirements.

Determining which parts may receive above-average stress during normal use prevents premature failure. Designers may make a component’s corners from 0.9 to 1.2 times the part’s average thickness to compensate. The specific decisions will vary depending on function, size and other aspects.

If design team members create or rely on 3D models, they can more easily determine the best features for clients’ needs. Otherwise, there’s a higher chance of making mistakes or missing things and not noticing them until much later.

Testing Designs Before Creating Physical Versions

Designers can also feed data from 3D models into digital twins to assess how particular designs would tolerate real-world conditions. Offshore platform design considerations examine how salt water, waves, currents and hurricanes could strain the infrastructure. Similarly, onshore rigs don’t experience marine conditions but must withstand rain, high winds and possible lightning strikes.

Digital twins allow designers to assess various features by studying highly realistic representations of tangible assets. They can tweak the digital twin to see the results, using those outcomes to determine if trying those possibilities in actual settings is worthwhile.

Digital twins are also useful for forecasting. Consider how research suggests climate change will exacerbate oil platform challenges. Flooding or downed trees resulting from severe storms could increase the time between maintenance appointments, especially if technicians cannot reach sites safely. Similarly, high humidity and heavy rains pose corrosion risks and could promote mold growth, shortening an oil platform’s life span.

Designers might use a digital twin to predict how climate change could affect oil rigs now versus in five to eight years. That future-oriented mindset could help design professionals be more proactive by addressing risks before they become costly problems.

More broadly, digital twins and other 3D models save money and time by helping people understand each design’s pros and cons in simulated environments. Those involved in offshore oil platform design may never physically visit the sites featuring their creations, so they should carefully study each possibility before committing to it, always remembering the challenges associated with specific locations.

Getting Confident Approvals for Offshore Platform Design Choices

Data-driven 3D models are also fantastic for helping people without design experience visualize how specific possibilities would perform. Similar to how data scientists use business intelligence platforms to make visualizations and increase information digestibility, oil platform designers could launch specialized tools to show supervisors, clients or other stakeholders the potential of options in progress.

Some choices could affect other industries, as with some floating wind turbines inspired by offshore platform design plans. Oil company decision-makers may not have direct design experience, but they want the infrastructure to meet specific criteria to ensure it provides a healthy return on investment. For example, it must be stable, consistently functional and resistant to the elements.

Some executives are also open-minded about first-time or lesser-used designs, provided people can prove those would work better than alternatives. Three-dimensional models can gain decision-makers’ confidence, helping them visualize real-world results and feel excited about supporting a company’s profits and plans.

Designers can also improve stakeholder communications by periodically sending parties models with the latest confirmed features. Those resources can set expectations and help everyone ask or answer relevant questions.

Elevate the Design Experience With 3D Models

These examples emphasize how data-based 3D models enhance oil platform designs for everyone involved. Whether you’re directly involved in building these structures or in an executive position at an oil company, these representations provide valuable insights at every stage, saving money, improving productivity and increasing innovation.

These benefits can collectively strengthen oil companies’ competitiveness, positioning them as industry leaders who pursue process improvements and embrace emerging technologies.

Author Profile
Emily Newton
Editor-in-Chief - 

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine discussing the latest industry innovations and trends.

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