Digital Twin

Digital Twin Technology in the Construction Industry

Digital Twin is a fast-growing technology that has found a steady footing in the construction industry. It works simply by presenting a digital representation of a real-world object. In construction, a digital twin is an exact digital replica of a construction project. This means a bridge, highways, buildings, and even cities are visible to us as working virtual drawings. 

Here are some frequently asked questions.

How are digital twins for construction created?

Digital twins are created by gathering real-world data on the building or structure with the help of 3D laser scanners, drones, sensors, cameras, and other IoT-related devices. Through these technologies, a digital twin can learn and automatically update such that it reflects adjustments that need to be made to its real-world counterpart.

This innovative solution reveals updates needed in the system and streamlines the energy auditing process, ROI assessment of energy conservation opportunities and options, and access to a digital tool capable of being developed and updated as the asset’s operations and surrounding environment change. The Digital Twin also offers an innovative approach to identifying the most creative ways to reduce financial implications to identify low-cost/no-cost changes to the facility or operating and maintenance procedures and determine the savings that will result from these changes.

Digital Twins focus on how people will use the space and serve as a foundation for large buildings to utilize their numerous assets. 

How are digital twins for construction accessed? 

There are many specialized software that accesses Digital Twins, such as Trimble Connect, Quadri, Agile Assets, or Tekla among others. 

How are digital twins for construction kept current? 

Digital twins are synced with their corresponding physical assets through scanning, point cloud data, surveying data, 3D modeling software, and any sensors and devices used to send information back to the twin in real-time. 

Digital twins offer a crucial analytic edge by gathering data from various sources. Construction teams are able to gain live insight into every recorded component when physical assets are updated automatically and reveal real-time status, working conditions, and position of the physical assets.

What are the benefits of a digital twin?

Digital twins give multi-dimensional views into how an asset is designed and how it’s performing, including occupant behavior, use patterns, space utilization, and traffic patterns. It requires careful consideration. A digital twin offers a means to test “what-if” scenarios, including the impact of design changes, weather disruptions, and security events. It collects substantial data in one environment. This lets them digitally experiment and study expected outcomes before any changes are made to the physical structure. 

The technology allows us to simulate and animate our physical environment’s technical and social performance based on real-time data. It enables us to analyze it and can be interpreted by a human or decoded by a machine. 

The benefits of digital twins continue to everyday asset use.

  • Efficient resource management: With the help of automatic data delivery, the information pipeline between the office and the construction field is updated in real-time, making the job site run efficiently and affordably. The detailed digital twin copy reveals model details, working conditions, component dimensions, and many other functioning metrics. These are updated over the years and ensure that no information is lost. 
  • Value-added deliverable: Digital twins are easily transferrable to new project owners to support ongoing enhancements. The insight provided helps inform future decision-making and offers insight into daily operations.
  • Streamlined facility management: Digital twins can offload a lot of the burden in asset management. For example, when a repair is needed, a digital twin pinpoints problem areas and shares the necessary specs with technicians. It can even keep track of billing. 
  • Reduce risk: Digital twins can help predict, identify and analyze risks. They help reduce risks not only on a job site but also help facility managers identify potential risks for occupants and users.
  • Ongoing improved efficiencies: Using what-if simulations can better address health, safety, well-being, environmental, social, and governance strategies and carbon emissions. KONE recently used digital twins to analyze how people use elevators using sensors that tracked traffic through the building to reduce elevator wait times at the start and end of the day. 
  • Lower costs: Digital twins can reduce life cycle costs, which can help improve the project and asset performance. Thanks to better risk mitigation and predictions, certain costs/wastes can be avoided entirely.
  • Enhance coordination: Improved coordination potential is another benefit. Digital twins can give project teams a greater overall understanding of how systems interact and where there are potential conflicts. They can also improve installation sequencing and help connect the office with the field, improving day-to-day operations.
  • Provide security: Digital twins protect data and information and physical security with better identification of safety issues.

Challenges of Creating a Digital Twin

Digital twins are complex and rely on collaboration, communication, and real-time updates to be successful. 

  • Technological: Digital Twins work as a network of systems that interconnect and overlap. The right technologies and procedures need to be set in place and continuously monitored and maintained so that their performance is not impacted. This investment can become an obstacle if proper steps are not set in place to ensure their success. 
  • Financial: The ROI on a Digital Twin is potentially high, but so is the upfront cost. In an industry of notoriously low margins, it can be difficult to bet on a new technology that has limited historical data. 
  • Cultural: Arguably, the biggest hindrance to new technology is a cautious company culture. Suppose your company is open to adopting change and improvements. In that case, new technologies like a digital twin can propel your solutions and assets to stay ahead of the competition that is approaching with caution. 
  • Industry Structure: The creation of a digital twin does not directly benefit those who are tasked with creating and populating the data during a project’s design and construction phase. Owners must commit long-term to their teams creating and yielding the correct data. 

Digital Twin Solutions at Alpin 

With the emergence of increased awareness and commitment by different organizations, developers, and governments to address the concerning issues of climate change, Alpin has invested in developing services that support owners and representatives of organizations/built assets in meeting their climate change-related KPIs.

As-built assets contribute 40% of the carbon footprint, and it is essential to ensure efficient and sustainable operations of the assets. Realizing this, the AILA framework was set in motion to develop capabilities, methodology, and strategy for expanding on Alpin’s energy modeling and auditing services to bring forward the Digital Twin service. The framework includes a feasibility study, resource analysis, technology assessment, and business plan and execution.

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