The Potential of Digital Twin for the Construction Industry Consultants

2020 has been the year when digital really took over but Digital Twin technology has a much deeper pedigree than just the past 12 months. This super smart technology creates digital replicas of real-world infrastructure and is a market that has been growing for years and is predicted to be worth more than $35 billion by 2025. In the UK there is even government backing for a focus on Digital Twin via the Centre for Digital Built Britain. However, given that advanced BIM has yet to really achieve extensive take up across the construction sector does Digital Twin have greater potential?

 

The concept of Digital Twin

 

This term was first used in 2002 and it has firmly stuck since then. It describes a digital replica of physical assets or systems and the relationship between both the real and the virtual. Many different industries can benefit from this type of technology, from healthcare to manufacturing. In the context of construction, it can be used to test sequencing and logistics scenarios, use real time tracking to increase safety standards and monitor data in real time to optimise the performance of a building – among many other things.

 

The relationships between the physical and the digital

 

The most advanced versions of Digital Twin are where the potential really lies for the construction sector. Here, there are two-way interactions between the digital version and the physical assets or systems, which effectively mean that the digital can control the physical. For example, with the Internet of Things and data that can be collected via equipment such as sensors, a Digital Twin could be used to react to the realities of the physical building and autonomously control it. There are a number of key differences between a model and a Digital Twin, including the use of real-time data and machine learning that will be used to bring the Digital Twin to life.

 

Can the construction sector realise the potential of Digital Twin?

 

There has already been a great deal of investment in this technology, including from very prominent institutions such as Heathrow Airport and the Greater London Authority. However, many remain concerned about whether the construction sector is ready to take advantage of all the potential that Digital Twin has. Legacy systems could prove to be problematic and there are still many organisations that are really only paying lip service to BIM 2, rather than implementing it in any real way. Skills shortages are also often highlighted as one of the potential obstacles to the widespread integration of Digital Twin, with retraining required outside of legacy engineering and consulting skills. However, despite the concerns that surround Digital Twin technology there is also a great deal of enthusiasm – there is even a Digital Twin Fan Club and many prominent organisations and public bodies are getting behind the innovation.

 

Digital Twin technology provides a truly unique opportunity to change the way that the digital and built environments interact and to improve many aspects of the construction sector for the better, from safety to optimised performance.

 

At RG Group we are leading construction consultants, contact us to find out more.

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