Comprehensive adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and the recent advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) applications provide various new insights and decision-making capabilities throughout the life cycle of the built environment. The capacity of real-time connectivity to online sensors put in an area has led to the concept of the Digital Twin of the Built Environment emerging in recent years.
The purpose of digital twins is to integrate the real world with a virtual environment for seamless monitoring and administration of the construction process, facility management, environmental monitoring, and other processes in the life cycle operations.
Digital Twins is rapidly progressing and would play a major role in the coming days enabling asset-centric organizations to combine their engineering, operational, and information technologies into a portal or augmented/immersive experiences.
The confluence of 3D visualization, reality modeling, mixed reality (AR/VR), and geotechnical engineering has made this possible, allowing for a comprehensive and integrated representation of infrastructure assets underground, on the surface, and above the surface. As a result, better-informed decisions would be made to enhance network/service reliability, consumer and worker safety, regulatory compliance, and environmental impact mitigation.
BIM to Digital Twins: The Evolution
Building design and management tools have progressed for decades, starting with Computer-aided Design (CAD). The term “Building Information Model” was first developed in the early 1990s, and it was then renamed “Building Information Modeling (BIM)” and has gained a lot of popularity in recent decades.
A BIM model is a 3D digital representation of a building that incorporates both geometric and semantic information about the elements. BIM enables smooth communication between AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) experts because of the sharable and consistent database, and is thus widely used in building life cycle management, including the design and operational stages.
Also, BIM-based 4D simulations with detailed material and cost information can aid the construction process of building projects. Building management plans can also be optimized by the building manager with the use of 3D visualization and specifics of building elements offered by BIM to assist with the management of building equipment and the internal environment.
However, without additional data sources, BIM can only give static data about the built environment and cannot automatically update real-time information in the models. The integration of real-time sensing data and static information supplied by BIM models became possible with the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is defined as the interconnection of sensing devices that are able to allow information interchange across different platforms.
Evolve to Building Back Better
What is a Digital Twin?
The term “Digital Twin” refers to a digital representation of physical assets, processes, and systems, as well as their dynamics, that can be used for a variety of purposes. Digital Twin is a digitalization technology that connects the actual and virtual worlds. It makes use of real-time data and other sources to improve decision-making by enabling learning, reasoning, and dynamic evolution. This twin model gathers data and employs physics-based simulations to create a data-rich model that performs identically to its real-world counterpart. The digital twin technique replaces all design assumptions with real data, resulting in a real-time operational model of the structure.
How Digital Twins is Transforming the Construction Industry?
Construction has always been a very conventional, labor-intensive, and time-consuming process. Before a project can materialize in the actual world. Each & every very aspect of construction from design briefs to precise architectural line drawings, modeling, testing, and iterative adjustments must be addressed.
Furthermore, each step of the process must be communicated between the architect, engineer, and construction chains. Traditional design, production, and operating processes can all be accelerated and automated with the use of a “digital twin,” or digital counterpart of a physical object. As a result, it can be used as the foundation for prefabrication and as a more important means of increasing industrialized efficiency.
The transformation will be fueled by rising demand, growing complexity, and more powerful design authoring tools. The industry is already realizing benefits from digital twins in terms of risk management, decreasing rework, and increasing efficiencies in project delivery.
Digital Twins offer a risk-free way of simulating construction, logistics, and fabrication sequences with the supply chain for Capex projects as well as optimizing design and allowing stakeholders to visualize emergency evacuations and resilience to extreme weather conditions.
For an Opex project’s performance, digital twins will truly become the organization’s virtual operating system combining data from continuous surveys, photogrammetry, LiDAR, and sensors with asset tracking on a timeline. This will allow asset managers to move the digital representation of the infrastructure asset and related real-world conditions forward or backward in time.
Also, as there is tremendous data loss in engineering and construction, a digital twin is a goldmine for a facility owner. Building managers can use digital twins to better understand why things were developed and designed the way they were, which leads to easier maintenance. According to McKinsey, implementing a mass-production manufacturing system might boost productivity much more, with far more homogeneity developing across global industrial sites. These initiatives will necessitate better design, production, and construction coordination, as well as significantly tighter tolerances.
Sensors, smart gadgets, site cameras, and unmanned aerial vehicles are used by digital twins to collect data from physical locations. To swiftly analyze data and publish insights, AI/ML and software analytics are used. These technologies enable the team to run simulations on an unfinished project and make corrections to processes or systems that have yet to be constructed or implemented. During the project lifespan, this approach helps to avoid construction reworks, saving time and money.
Traditional methods, such as LiDAR and laser scanning, involve a lot of manual labor, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles has skyrocketed in the construction business. Due to the processing of aerial film versus aerial LiDAR, this method is also increasing the number of data points on a construction site. People can fly unmanned aerial aircraft on a daily basis, track progress, and quickly compute data like earthwork quantities and daily site progress.
Digital technology adoption among engineers and contractors, particularly in the United States, still has a long way to go. Companies that have already implemented BIM workflows may find it easier to move forward with digital twins. If your company hasn’t yet adopted digital solutions, it’s critical to understand that the transition is both necessary and unavoidable.
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