Digital Twins are perhaps an unfamiliar technology or approach in the construction industry. For more than a decade now, the construction industry has fallen over behind digitalization. The use of analytics, data, and artificial intelligence in managing construction has not been applied for some reason, even though project management is the linear, highly labor, and time-intensive approach.
Everything from the design particulars; to very detailed tasks management of architectural line drawings, testing, modeling, and even changes must be considered before managing construction projects. Things that could take shape and change in the real and physical worlds must be looked into, as each step of the progression must have communication among the construction crew management and chains.
In this blog, we will give you a better understanding of Digital Twins technology. You will know if it is a real benefit when you manage construction projects if you apply it to your construction company.
Understanding Digital Twins
Normally, Digital Twins are also known as the digital replica of the physical entity. It was known to have aided construction projects through automation and acceleration of the traditional design, the process of operations, and production. In addition, it serves as the backbone or the foundation for prefabrication and means of achieving industrialized competence.
So, how does Digital Twin work when it comes to managing construction? Read down below:
- Digital Twins’ goal is to gather data through a sensor to understand a physical structure better and create its duplicate effectively.
- The construction crew management would also understand, assess, develop, manipulate, and optimize the building structure regardless of the size.
- As everyone in the project task management analyzes through what they see in the digital twin lenses, they could easily uncover potential means of coming up with efficiencies, risk reductions, safety protocol developments, and enhancing the quality of their output.
- Digital Twin improves the Building Information Modelling (BIM), as it also works as the digital thread that is directly connected to the physical entity itself.
- Digital Twins are also useful in times of remote work, as confidential information about the project and the tasks management is accessible and available.
Still, practical benefits and approaches will harmonize the way different companies and industries manage and create data. We understand that change could be far-reaching in any industry. However, it’s not going to be that prompt, especially in managing construction.
Important Things to Consider When Choosing Digital Twins Technology
For years, it has become more difficult than ever for construction management to stay connected to the crew or team on the ground. Clear visibility and communication about the progress of the job sites and tasks management are perhaps the common challenges that the management is facing. Construction crew management software can help construction professionals close the gap from office to the field and manage their crew effectively.
Digital Twins is another technology solution that construction companies have started to rely heavily on their construction business, especially on onsite modeling solutions. This has been an effective substitute for tasks management onsite. However, there are just some factors to consider when opting for digital twins’ technology. These are:
1. Speed and Accuracy of Taking Photos
Like any other means of taking images of the construction site, you should know that Digital Twins work differently. There are times that it needs a lot of expertise and manual configuration. It would also take days to capture 20,000 sq. meters, while some can do it all in one day.
Though you’ve already taken photos, that is just the first step of the process. Next would be the actual application of the digital twin – which happens to be the process that is quite different from one provider to another. You must be aware that the Digital Twin approach is quite challenging for photo and image delivery.
More and more images are being added, most especially for large construction sites. You’re not going to deal with hundreds of captured images; we’re talking about thousands of images. But on the brighter side, Digital Twins automatically loads and organize images into a 3D setting. The uploading process would be for a few minutes up to 24 hours or more.
2. Ease of Process and Application
You should be aware that coming up with an accurate or usable digital model on a job site is challenging. It sometimes requires management platforms and advanced cameras. However, the challenges in implementing the platform are different.
Some approaches are large, and only professionals can operate specialized cameras. There are other times that it requires technical expertise but only limits the captures and number of challenges. So, the right solution lies between or differs depending on the requirements of the digital twin. The thing here is to select a tool where ease of use and image quality are balanced.
3. Project Collaboration
When opting for Digital Twin technology to manage construction projects, you should have a clear and better understanding of project collaboration. You should understand how the platform organizes or uploads information since there are times that it effectively collaborates within the combined digital twin. From there, you can develop processes for your tea and make the best use of the Digital Twin.
4. Security Matters
The usefulness offered through having a digital model and fully walkable jobsite constantly changes as the emerging project is outward. That said, it also creates security matters. For instance, when a photo is captured, do you know how the captured file is shared and transmitted?
Any individual or contractor working with digital twin should always be curious and ask questions about where the photos captured go after being taken. You should know whoever has access to it and how it’s being protected. The contractors should prioritize confidentiality and security over the ease of access, especially working with clients’ sensitive data.
5. Dealing with Physical and Digital Things
It takes time for us to communicate with virtual objects in construction. Digital twin is an immersive manner, and it must have proper handling. Though any new technology or process is as effective as its aptitudes, you must also understand it before implementing it. The same is true with the digital twin; contractors must get on with it before using it.
6. Dealing with Detecting Conflicts and Finding Solutions
You should use a digital twin that can detect and respond to changes in a fast-paced environment. It must identify and come up with execution differences, so the communication on the site is accurate and consistent.
What are the Results that Digital Twin Technology Deliver?
Though only a few companies tried or implemented digital twin technology, most of them could vouch that it increases project task management’s operation. It offers so many benefits and results to:
- Effectively work on orders based on statistical assumptions;
- Total control of productivity between the management and the team in real-time;
- Increases the execution and maintenance of the productivity of the team;
- Determines the outcome of changes in the company’s productivity system;
- Reduces risk to the safety of people since it reduces people in the field;
- Evaluates and monitor the conditions of machines based on graphic methods and learning algorithms;
- Reduces time in acquiring information
Ways in Adopting Digital Twin Technology
Since construction companies rely on Digital Technology, you must know the steps in scaling digital twins in project task management. In addition, there are ways to apply digital twins and understand their benefits.
Creating highly-reliable prototypes
An automated or virtual design can be applied rather than the traditional drawings. This allows projects to free up costs and time by avoiding historically exhausted design efforts.
Evaluate, simulate, and replicate
Since digital twin applies to both the assembly and manufacturing processes, the physical performance can be identified and understood before anything gets built. Digital twin demonstrated the factors and tolerances that may be risky to the production.
Make data and information accessible to individuals
Volumes of accessible data beyond the main design can be stored digitally and shared among the construction management at all stages. This will let the individuals know the parameters if it’s embedded firmly into the design procedure.
Capture data from a physical entity
Once the project is open for business and completed, the sensors can collect and gather data to notify potential designers in the future on how the thing works. For example, if the buildings are products of fabricated components, then enhancements on the design can be driven from the virtuous cycle. Unfortunately, this concept has long been absent from the construction, engineering and architecture industries.
Eventually, digital twins could help democratize project management for construction design. Although this technology is still new and in its early days, it still has many potentials in unlocking the capacity to explore and discover countless ideas in using technology.
Yes, there are risks and factors to consider.
Still, when you prioritize ideas and come up with a backup plan to mitigate risks and provide efficiencies, the digital twin is indeed worth the try.