For those of us in the AEC industry, the concept of a digital representation of a building that can be analyzed prior to actually building it, as embodied by building information modeling, is hardly new. As it is now being utilised in every segment of the AEC industry, at its barest definition, a digital twin can be defined as a 3D model of a physical product, process, or service with the animation of the 3D replicas powered by the product’s live data.
The Flair3D platform offers a 3D web viewer integrated with IoT, Live performance Monitoring, markups, point cloud visualization, multi-model view, Timeliner and Scheduling on cloud,
So What does Digital TWIN offer?
Digital TWIN offers –
- A physical product that generates live data on its operations or sensors to gather live data on the activities around it.
- A live data stream from the physical product to the 3D replica.
- A software-based mechanism for causing the 3D replica to visibly perform like the physical product based on the received live data.
- Schedules, Contracts, Construction document
Components of digital TWIN
To enable digital TWIN, technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and big data are primarily used. A digital TWIN is not always the 3D replica of the physical object though having a 3D replica is highly desirable.
There are four fundamental components of the digital twin, let’s have a look at them –
- Model of the physical entity – A virtual or digital model of the physical entity or a process or a collection of physical entities.
- Time Series Data – Time series data is captured from the object and other sources related to the object. This data is usually captured by using sensors.
- Unique Identifier – A unique identifier is an equipment number or asset ID, which is used to associate the digital TWIN with its physical equivalent.
- Monitoring Capability – Cameras, sensors, etc are the tools that are used to monitor the object.
Digital twin value drivers for AEC
Digital twin provides significance to the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. The value provided to designers and builders is helping to get more information and a better understanding of the construction. The digital twins’ value is to surface any questions by rationally answering any questions it is programmed for.
Having a digital model which can quickly run unbiased situations that review all aspects of the project would help the consumer to solve many compelling and complex challenges which they do not know the answers to.
Unlocking the Success of Digital Twins
If you decide to use the Digital twin concept and put in the effort to guarantee its success, it is more likely to profit from the overall project it’s being worked on.
So the main question here is how can you unlock the success of digital twins? Let’s discuss the components that make the digital twins successful –
- Visualization – BIM
- Living Data – IoT
- Data Structure: Common Data Environment
- Connection: Connected and integrated
- Analysis and Prediction: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Visualization – BIM
Digital twins improve Building information modeling (BIM). Usually, models on their own are not capable of proving the same level of response as the digital twins. You have to keep a close eye on the real-time changes that your digital twin is showing. The model has all the similar data as the physical project when a BIM-centric digital twin is used. This helps to improve the knowledge of constructability.
When models are usually used in the assignment, it is better to use a digital twin as it can provide you with the live operational procedures which models cannot do on their own. But keep in mind that this only works when it’s paired with the Internet of things (IoT), which brings us to our next important component.
Living Data – Internet of Things (IoT)
As your BMI and digital twin must complement each other, the same goes for IoT and your digital twin. IoT helps to produce a digital thread that connects the digital twin to the actual physical project that you are working on.
Since Sensors collect data in real-time, a digital twin is constantly renewing the working conditions and making the project teams understand how the project is operating. The simulation environment of a digital twin can offer to help an operations team address any problem more efficiently and effectively.
Data Structure – Common Data Environment
If you want to maximize your digital twins, you should be able to manage them in the right system. A common data environment (CDE) can help in optimal asset management for digital twins. These systems help to provide the right systems and standards to avoid duplication of data and silos and create a single source of data.
Connection: Connected and Integrated
If you want to have all your data inputted correctly and accurately in the digital world then your digital twin should be connected and integrated. You have to make sure that the correct systems and integrations are there to permit information and data to flow without restrictions between numerous project phases and teams.
Analysis and Prediction: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning play a vital role in tapping into the maximum capability of a digital twin. Each of them provides the power to put the collected data to meaningful use. Digital twins open various doors to analyze unrelated data collections to find new risks or opportunities. This can also assist in identifying any risks easier and faster and also help in increasing operational efficiency.
Why & How to Build a Digital TWIN platform
So far you must have understood what a digital twin is and how beneficial it is. Building a digital twin platform for your business can boost up the construction process and can give you a more accurate result. Here in this section, we will discuss why and how you can build a digital twin.
- Why build a digital twin platform –Create an accurate representation of the Physical & Digital environment with relational interaction.
- Implement IoT based real-time data
- Simulate and analyze the data using Machine Learning
- Feedback to the modular construction
How to build a digital twin platform –
There are three ways you can build a digital twin. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Digital Twin enabled application
In this model, the digital twin is delivered along with IoT-connected products and equipment or business applications. This way of procuring a digital twin is the cheapest, easiest and quickest. According to Gartner’s report Market Guide for Digital Twin Portfolios and Enabling Technologies, a total of 50% of businesses use this method to build a digital twin. Digital twins are progressively being offered as a feature of business applications, such as field service management and asset performance management.
Digital Twin enabled application Sellers – Oracle, IBM Bentley Systems, GE Digital, and SAP
2. Custom Built
You can use IoT platforms, analytics, and simulation tools, and business process management (BPM) software to design and organize digital twins. An alternate way will be to outsource the development of digital twins to IT service providers or IoT vendors. Custom-built digital twins help to meet your specific requirements but they are much expensive and a long operation time.
Tech providers – Accenture, Mavim Atos, Microsoft, and IBM
3. Commercial off the shelf (COTS) templates
These are usually offered as a software package by equipment manufactures and technology service providers to meet particular IoT use cases. COTS digital twin templates vary in cost, operational approach, and completeness as per the provider. These types of methods are generally designed to support a particular use case. These are quicker and easier to incorporate than digital twins which are custom built but are comparatively immature and can pose security and integration challenges.
COTS sellers – GE Digital, SAP, ANSYS, Hitachi, and Uptake
Digital Twin and Modular Construction
Unlike traditional construction models, the digital twin replicates each feature of the physical object. The digital twin can take accountability for the behaviours and processes involved in the project way down to the individual and raw materials and components.
One strong advantage of the digital twin is its capability to align sustainability with design. Basically, procuring a digital twin can reveal its carbon footprint and energy efficiency. Additionally, various parts of the structure can be developed in an offsite factory and can be assembled at the site, thus making the building easily assembled and also disassembled which can further reuse to decrease the economy. Also, Implementing digital twins to modular construction can assist in reducing time and cost.
With our infrastructure supported by IoT devices, our construction projects will also get smarter, not just with connected controls and smart sensors, but by connecting IoT devices to the BIM model of the building. In light of new adoptions, use of digital twins is expected to be at a higher level, and to stay competitive and relevant, one should definitely consider this technology in their digital transformation journey.
Digital Twin might seem futuristic, but the future starts now. It’s here, and it will stay there forever, but with the advent of digital twin technology, you will need to be prepared for the next generation of cases such as AI, simulation, and computer vision applications, and whatnot. In AEC, we are the early adopters of the Digital Twin technology wherein we have used new-age solutions such as IoT, AI and ML for the creation of realistic models and as it is digital representation of construction projects.
If you wish to stay ahead in the digital twin competition, reach out to us to know the case studies and various solutions created for the digital twin adoption in AEC domain.