A digital twin is a virtual model of a real world counterpart. This could be a building, a manufacturing process or even a logistic network. In the built environment a digital twin is the mirror of the building, bridge or barracks. BIM can form the foundation, it combines data from various sources, such as sensors, IoT devices, and simulations, to create a detailed and dynamic digital replica.
A digital twin reacts to the physical twin and can change how the physical twin behaves.
The purpose of a building digital twin is to provide the asset owner valuable insights, analysis, controls and predictions about the real-world counterpart. By simulating the behaviour and characteristics of the physical entity in real-time, it enables better understanding, optimisation and decision-making.
A digital twin requires clearly communicated requirements, correct specification of connected assets and a BIM execution plan tailored to include digital asset delivery.
A digital twin of a construction project with the integration of Building Information Modelling (BIM) with digital twin technology provides a comprehensive view of the construction process, improving collaboration between different teams and contractors. This integration allows for the automatic updating of the digital twin with the latest data from the construction site, ensuring that all stakeholders have access to up-to-date information.
Once a building or infrastructure is operational, digital twins continue to provide value throughout the facility management and maintenance phases. Facility managers can use digital twins to monitor equipment performance, energy consumption and overall building health in real-time, then make automated interventions to improve the performance, reduce the energy usage and meet the needs of the facility’s users.
The benefits of digital twins
Digital twins in other sectors include many of the benefits that BIM has already realised for the built environment. What digital twins do beyond BIM is connect all the data together to provide a complete picture of how an asset operates for everyone from leaders to operatives.
Digital twins allow for remote management. This reduces the need for on site visits, but is essential when the digital twin is managing a risky or remote environment.
Implementing digital twins
Implementing digital twins requires a different process to the traditional construction process, which BIM enhances, but does not replace. Implementing digital twins is part of a wider organisational strategy to operate using evidence-based decision making. The digital twin strategy for the organisation will ensure the necessary data sources are available, usable and fulfil the requirements of the organisation. This requires the integration of data sources and software tools that is itself an undertaking that requires change management. Once the data, tools and processes for managing assets with evidence have been established digital twins can be created to deliver reliable, trustworthy data to the organisation.
The future of digital twins
The future prospects of digital twins in the built environment are promising. As the approach continues to evolve, it is expected to become more accessible, user-friendly, and cost-effective. Advances in AI and machine learning are enhancing the predictive capabilities of digital twins, making them useful tools for architects, engineers, contractors and facility managers.
Overall, the implementation of digital twins in the built environment can lead to more efficient, sustainable and user-friendly spaces. They help with reducing costs, optimising resources and enhancing safety. As the approach continues to advance, the benefits of digital twins are likely to become even more pronounced, revolutionising how we design, build, and manage the built environment.
To discover how gliderbim® can support your digital twin strategy, get in touch with our team of experts.