January 12, 2024 Opinion piece
The construction industry is undergoing a transformative shift as new technologies revolutionise how building projects are conceptualised, executed and managed.
Digital Twins, one of the technologies driving this shift, are increasingly being used to inform improved decision making across the built environment.
A Digital Twin is simply a dynamic, digital representation of a physical object or process that is contextualised in a digital version of its real-world environment. In construction, this typically comes in the form of a detailed digital model of a building or infrastructure project.
These models are not static; they continuously update and evolve in response to real-time data gathered from various sources such as 3D scanners, sensors, and IoT devices. This integration of real-world data into a digital model provides an unprecedented capability for analysis and enhanced decision-making at every stage of a construction project.
A Digital Twin can give you information about the current state of build subsystems, how they are being impacted by occupant behaviours or weather conditions, when assets like heating, ventilation, air conditioning or lighting might fail, and much more.
This capability enables construction teams to not only visualise but also simulate different scenarios and outcomes in the digital world before actual implementation in the physical world. The insights this provides can be used to improve resource management, efficiency, safety throughout the entire lifecycle of a building.
Implementing Digital Twins
Adopting Digital Twins technology can be challenging. The fragmented nature of the industry and the need for real-time data integration are still hurdles that need to be overcome. Transitioning away from traditional methods requires investment and can be complex as there is a need for specialised skills to interpret and utilise these models.
One of the core challenges is ensuring the integrity and consistency of data across various systems and stages of the construction process. This includes accurately identifying, tracking and managing components to ensure that every element is accurately represented in the Digital Twin. A lack of a standardised approach to the capture, management and sharing of for data can lead to discrepancies, inefficiencies, and increased costs.
Unique identifiers allow materials to be tracked and traced throughout the entire construction process, ensuring accurate representation in the Digital Twin. This level of detail and control leads to more efficient resource allocation, better quality control, and enhanced decision-making.