The digital transformation rests in the implementation of cutting-edge technology. In the architecture, building, and engineering industries, digital twins are the representation of innovation and will to make the most out of the technology available.
We live in the information age. More than ever, the amount of data we handle in our daily operations is immense and only continues to grow. Think about it, while working “analogically” there’s so much information scattered all over different platforms that often lead to confusion and, consequently, to rescheduling and reworking.
So, what if all the information needed for the construction process could be stored in a single place? That’s what digital twins are all about, and they have a positive impact on the optimization of productivity and quality.
The most valuable replica
If I had to define what digital twins are in a few words, I would say that they are digital replicas of real-life things. Of course, this is just a simplification of the result of a complex process, but stick with me here.
Despite the fact that they are one replica, digital twins are born out of the combination of several technologies, an ecosystem. All these technologies share information with each other, and from that collaboration, different processes can be carried out.
For instance, through a building’s digital twin you can run different scenarios or take a look at how future changes in a structure would look like and even function.
How do you obtain a digital twin? How do they vary in complexity?
The first step in the process of obtaining a digital twin is reality capture. There are several ways to relieve data from a physical object. One of them comes from point clouds, which are later used to obtain information and create data sets that become the foundations of what will later be our digital twin. The information obtained from this reality capture process constitutes the first level of complexity.
Now, let’s take it one step further. Take the point cloud you previously obtained and transform it into a 3D model or a 2D map. This is where things become interesting. With either a model or a map you can begin to obtain value in your process by answering simple questions such as: How could my team move within this space? Where can equipment access through? What is the purpose of this particular element?
One important thing to remember: These models and maps don’t contain BIM information attached.
Time to connect! Once a 3D model is created, you can attach information that isn’t directly stored in it, making two or more different software interact with each other and complement their information. This data could be related to design, asset conditions, etcetera. At this new level of complexity, you can begin to see some of the benefits that come with centralizing data.
- Reduce the chances of error by contrasting data.
- Smoothen your decision-making processes in the light of new information.
- Improve the collaboration between platforms and team members.
Also, integrating information from various sources allows you to run scenarios. This helps to anticipate errors and optimize the use of assets.
But there’s more to be done. If you want to elevate your perspective on both the digital twin and the real-life structure, you can connect sensors that collect data from the actual building you are working on.
This new source of information implies another layer of complexity that comes with an improvement in the predictability of procedures. You can see how a certain action would impact the structure in real-time, which is always an improvement in terms of determining courses of action. This data might encourage you to take a path you hadn’t considered before or reinforce your processes through verification.
At the time of moving to the next level of complexity (the fourth, to be precise), it’s necessary to make the digital twin and the real-life structure interact. This way, a member of your team can, from the digital twin, activate machinery located in the real building and make it change something in the physical world while, through the previously set sensors, update the twin in real-time.
But, you can also connect the twin to other software. For instance, you could run engineering programs that run different trials and calculate the impact they would have on the structure, and send it back to the twin. Then again, this is a major step in optimizing decision-making without harming the site.
How can you implement digital twins in your processes?
Digital transformation is here to stay, and digital twins are one of the main reasons why. Implementing them requires an experienced team of engineers, architects, and building experts that can add more value to your processes and optimize them. From reducing time and errors in operations to allowing you to have a more personalized and immersive experience throughout the process, the digital twins and them can allow you to achieve a new level of precision and quality.