What is a Digital Twin?

A Digital Twin is a virtual copy of a product or process that simulates its behavior and provides detailed simulations of how the product will behave and operate during all the phases of its life cycle. The goal of the Digital Twins is to build data centers more efficiently and sustainably from the ground up for more efficient results.

These twins can be a digital representation of an environment or a physical object, such as a car, bridge, or building. Unlike static data models, Digital Twins in the AEC Industry evolve in real-time.

They can learn, update and communicate with their original physical copies through data exchange. This process is made possible by AI, machine learning, and IoT technologies. As a technology in the construction industry, it can be stated that it has been a breakthrough for digital transformation. The incorporation of Industry 4.0 technologies such as robotization, 3D printing, or new materials are some of the trends that are booming.

The use of drones are part of the process as they can move around the building to accurately scan every corner and transfer the information to softwares that generate the replica. In a few years, Digital Twins will rapidly evolve beyond building information modeling (BIM).

It is predicted that in a few years, half of the industrial companies will be using Digital Twins, which will help them increase their efficiency by 10%.

In conclusion, having a Digital Twin allows for a wide range of functions such as risk-free experimentation, monitoring, analyzing its reaction to certain situations, and improving its performance. This is very beneficial for manufacturing processes and a decisive breakthrough in industrialized construction.

Real-world examples of the use of a Digital Twin

The use of Digital Twins is known worldwide. A 3D computer recreation of Singapore is called Virtual Singapore, and it is based on both topographical and live, dynamic data. It will serve as the Singapore’s premier platform for simulations and online tests of novel approaches to urban planning issues. The main feature is that it allows users from different sectors to create tools which solve different challenges faced by the city.

Amarivati, one of the main “Smart city” of the world, is also a case to be look after. It is being developed using a Digital Twin that integrates more than 1,000 types of data. The technologies used in its creation aim to transform operations, planning, development, and public interaction.

Compatibility of the Digital Twin with the BIM methodology

BIM methodology has revolutionized and changed the architecture, engineering, and construction sector (AEC) in recent years and continues to innovate daily. Today, we can do simulations that go beyond a 3D representation of the model. Different BIM and GIS building project data can be integrated and connected.

Architects, engineers, construction companies, and urban planners have long used design and BIM software to help create, plan and build their projects. But with the advent of the internet of things (IoT), sensors, Big Data, and cloud computing, they can now create “Digital Twins” of entire cities that display and behave in a variety of different scenarios.

BIM improves results in civil engineering projects by facilitating the analysis of various scenarios. This allows projects to be delivered on schedule and budget, all backed by data. It also facilitates collaboration through information sharing throughout the project lifecycle, generating more favorable outcomes.

More advantages of using the BIM methodology

Today’s infrastructure projects are more complex and the implementation of BIM facilitates project team collaboration. This reduces errors, facilitates cost predictability, and improves understanding. In each of the seven phases or dimensions that make up the life cycle of a project, the BIM methodology brings advantages. Since December 2018, its implementation has been mandatory in Spain in procurement files for services and works in public building tenders.

BIM is very practical and effective in the initial management as a tool to analyze the possible profitability and feasibility, depending on the expected delivery date of the project and the workload involved. Also when drafting both the Basic Project and the Execution Project, both by the provisions of the BEP, the BIM Execution Plan is to be defined by the BIM Manager with the bases, rules, and internal standards of the project to be developed with this methodology, to ensure the coordination and cohesion of all the agents involved in the work.

Main advantages of using a Digital Twin

We have compiled the main advantages of using a digital twin in construction projects:

  1. They allow clashes to be detected in advance and solved more quickly.
  2. Ability to virtually predict what will happen in the physical world, correcting possible errors.
  3. Especially useful for the maintenance of connected machines and equipment that generate and analyze large volumes of data.
  4. Avoid the risk of having a replicated system when performing tests and trials.
  5. Design and observe new scenarios when the variables that affect them are modified.
  6. Possibility of making changes to optimize productivity.