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How Digital Twin is Reforming the Construction Industry

November 1, 2021


Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical devices that data scientists and IT pros can use to run simulations before actual devices are built and deployed. They are also changing how technologies such as IoT, AI, and analytics are optimized

66% of construction companies say digital transformation is a key priority for much-needed changes to processes, business models, and ecosystems. Digital transformation to address the top industry challenge of completing projects on time and within budget.

Digital twins bring a wealth of useful applications across the construction market and lifecycle of assets, standing as a bridge between the physical and digital. As IoT sensors become smaller and more affordable, the ability to gather, process, and communicate information increases, making the interface between the two worlds invaluable.

Digital twin for Smart maintenance and Facility Management

Digital twin for Smart maintenance and Facility Management, image

The Digital Twin provides both a granular and holistic view of the built environment, answering the need for efficient facility management for both engineers and the maintenance team.

Integration with the BMS makes maintenance planning, space, and asset management extremely efficient, providing greater control over the overall property portfolio.

  • Collate data from different sources into one single pane of glass for a single source of truth of all your building systems.
  • Improve performance throughout the asset life cycle.
  • Act before an issue arises, thus, reducing operational and maintenance risks.
  • Remote monitoring and control, with power to act off-site.
  • Transparent, clear real-time view on the smart building data.
Digital Twin helps to manage all property-related data, image

A digital twin is a digital twin of a building that helps manage property-related information and illustrate maintenance processes. The digital twin collects data from, for example, data models under design, IoT and automation systems, and real estate users.

Granlund Manager's digital twin presents data in an easy-to-adapt format that is placed in real-time on a 3D plane image of a building. It allows you to monitor conditions through building, flooring, and space.

The amount of information in real estate is growing all the time. Data management can only succeed if Big Data can be presented in a sufficiently illustrative way. Digital twin provides visual property information to different parties' everyday lives, from property managers to property managers and space users.

Digital twin provides a new type of transparency in maintenance. It is a natural choice, for example, for property owners who want to feel their property deeper and use it wisely.

Blending Digital Twin and IoT Technology

Blending Digital Twin and IoT Technology, image

Digital twin technology has moved beyond manufacturing and into the merging worlds of the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and data analytics.

As more complex “things” become connected with the ability to produce data, having a digital equivalent gives data scientists and other IT professionals the ability to optimize deployments for peak efficiency and create other what-if scenarios.

IoT is advancing building automation beyond mere optimizations. It's bringing systems together and adding new value, through innovations like demand control and the way it improves air quality. But we must remember that IoT-based analytics platforms work only because they connect people with technology—without humans at the helm, they’re of little value.

Digital twin & Artificial Intelligence

Digital twin & Artificial Intelligence, image

Digital twins and artificial intelligence allow industrial companies to develop speed, efficiency, quality, and flexibility unprecedentedly. artificial intelligence and Digital twin two together can benefit overall operations.

A digital twin is a digital representation that simulates virtually a real-life object, process, or system. Digital twins often consist of:

  • Laws of physics
  • Material properties
  • Virtualized sensors
  • Causality

Ideally, the digital design tools integrate into the real-world control of the production facility or the product or prototype in question. This permits testing different production scenarios and validating the changes before taking the new features into production.

The first benefit of a digital twin is the ability to produce simulated data. A virtual environment can go through an infinite number of repetitions and scenarios. The simulated data produced can then be used to train the AI model. This way the AI system can be taught potential real-world conditions that might otherwise be very rare or still in the testing phase.

The second benefit is the ability to plan and test new features. The digital twin should represent reality, but it can produce a view into the future.

Developing an effective Digital Twin strategy

To establish an effective Digital Twin strategy, each asset requires a different set of asset data services, together with engineering master data, effective visualization tools, plus collaboration and workflow procedures:

1. Create a Digital Twin model that uses accurate data feeds to help understand product or operations performance and adjust critical control points to deliver short- and long-term value.

2. Identify where Digital Twin simulations and predictive maintenance can deliver the best value, for example, improvements in operations or processes, reduction in costs or risks.

3. Build a Digital Twin architectural roadmap that enables program and project planning for digital transformation.

4. Data insight is king. Use a Digital Twin for deployments or projects as this will expose how the organization or project connects with its current state and how it is likely to respond to internal or external changes.

Digital Twin Applications in the construction industry


Digital Twin Applications in the construction industry for environment, image

Digital Twin decarbonizes the energy systems by bringing all technologies together. The virtual twin can model energy flows and changes of variables in real-time.

Initially, designers and engineers used it to build prototypes of new products, but it proved to have more practical uses. Moreover, integrating the Internet of Things and AI has strengthened it to carry out multiple tasks.

Digital Twin can model a raft of internally connected systems through big data analytics. So, Digital twin can aid the reduction of CO2 and other greenhouses gases released into the earth's atmosphere.

Digital Twin can map out all the aspects of the energy systems to help with decarbonization. Starting from electrical production to distribution losses and localized demand, it would lay out the whole system in the virtual environment.

The use of Digital Twin is expanding as we are developing the technology to be more effective with time. For example, it has proven effective in energy management, electrically powered public transport infrastructure management, and sector coupling.

It is not possible to derive the best outcomes from the Digital Twin without knowing the factors. Therefore, one needs to know these factors below to decarbonize the energy systems without failure with Digital Twin.

Using a digital twin as a single version of truth could help create a more circular economy, guiding the reuse of materials. Applied to industries like farming, a twin could help identify patterns to improve operations, optimize maintenance, and remotely monitor soil and crop health.

2. Collaboration:

Digital Twin Applications in the construction industry for collaboration, image

From a smart city perspective, digital twins can support the breaking down of institutional and legal silos, unlocking multidisciplinary collaboration.

  • Manufacturing is the area where rollouts of digital twins are probably the furthest along, with factories already using digital twins to simulate their processes.
  • Automotive digital twins are made possible because cars are already fitted with telemetry sensors, but refining the technology will become more important as more autonomous vehicles hit the road.
  • Healthcare is the sector that produces the digital twins of people we mentioned above. Band-aid-sized sensors send health information back to a digital twin used to monitor and predict a patient's well-being.

3. Design:

Digital Twin Applications in the construction industry for design, image

If the whole is to function in an integrated way, then the good urban design cannot escape the requirement to understand the legacy and lateral systems. To foster good urban design we must gather the information required to understand the legacy and new systems and represent that information in a way that’s relevant and accessible to stakeholders through open data.

With the advent of new-generation information technologies in industry and product design, the big data-driven product design era has arrived. However, the big data-driven product design mainly emphasizes the analysis of physical data rather than the virtual models, in other words, the convergence between product physical and virtual space is usually absent. Digital twin, a new emerging and fast-growing technology which connects the physical and virtual world have attracted much attention worldwide recently.

4. Retrofitting:

Digital Twin Applications in the construction industry for retrofitting, image

Digital twins can support the retrofit of existing built assets. Examining the current use of a building, digital twins use IoT technologies that can track the individual components within a building over its lifecycle and collect data that can help identify inefficiencies and predict when maintenance is required. The digital twin also takes into consideration the human element of the built asset by tracking how it is used by its inhabitants, enabling building owners to make informed operational decisions.

Digital twin technologies offer long-term purpose and value to the sustainability of the built environment, both through their ability to track materials and properties within a building, allowing a more circular approach to construction, and to create an ecosystem within which data can be shared and communicated across boundaries.

5. Resource management:

Digital Twin Applications in the construction industry for resource management, image

As the global population grows and the shift towards urbanization continues, it becomes imperative to design more sustainable spaces, reduce consumption of resources and minimize environmental degradation.

Digital twin maturity Levels

Digital twins promise more effective asset design, project execution, and asset operations. By dynamically integrating data and information throughout the asset lifecycle, they will offer short ` and long-term efficiency and productivity gains. More than just BIM or a 3D model, twins are a data resource that can improve the design of new assets and understanding of existing asset conditions, verify the as-built situation, run ‘what if’ simulations and scenarios, or provide a digital snapshot for future works. This has the potential to reduce errors and discontinuities present in more traditional methods of information management.

To help this debate, maturity spectrum to define the elements and requirements of a digital twin, and to provide a framework for communicating the complex concept. This spectrum outlines three key applications that are considered to bring the highest overall benefit to the built environment.

Digital twin maturity Levels, image

Summing up

Digital twins offer a real-time look at what's happening with physical assets, which can radically alleviate maintenance burdens. While digital twins started the worlds of IoT and manufacturing, the technology is making inroads into the back office as well. Digital twins are much more than just a digital duplicate of a manufacturing process or facility

The business case for using a digital twin approach for a sustainable built environment is simple. A twin can act as a central repository of information for stakeholders. It can incorporate legacy system information in a form that allows its properties to be usefully amalgamated with new system information. This creates an inherent understanding of the way the built asset has been designed and constructed, the capabilities of all components, and how its constraints interact with each other, the environment, and society over time.

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