Everything around us is going digital. Advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and Internet of Things are increasingly becoming important parts of every industry, making processes faster and more efficient in terms of cost and time. Going digital is enabling every industry to achieve more with less. Latest advancements in computing power and smart algorithms along with technological developments in sensors, miniaturization, robotics, and drones, are helping even the construction industry to realise how they can combine the digital and physical worlds to build cheaper, greener and safer buildings in less time.
While drones are enabling the capture of a large number of photographs in a short span of time, making the task of planning easy, a concept that is really changing the face of the AEC industry is that of 'Digital Twins.'
Digital twins, by enabling simulations have the potential to bring damages caused due to both natural and man-made disasters to almost zero. They can help citizens lead a safer life. For instance, in the case of infrastructures where there is supposed to be a lot of footfall, by using pedestrian simulation software, we can predict when and where there will be more congestion. By bringing in requisite changes in the digital model of the infrastructure, it is possible to achieve higher safety, efficiency, & less operational costs in building and maintaining the asset.
A digital twin refers to a virtual model of a process, product or service. A digital twin is a link between a real-world object and its digital representation that is continuously using data from the sensors. All data comes from the sensors located on a physical object. The digital representation is later used for visualization, modelling, analysis, simulation and further planning.
By creating a digital twin of a building, building owners and operators are able to prevent varied problems occurring within the building, adopt building strategies accordingly and have safer stronger buildings. For instance, you can create a digital twin of a building and check how it will react to a high magnitude earthquake. Based on the outcome, you can make necessary changes in the building, before the calamity strikes and things get out of control. That's how a digital twin of a building can save lives.
Digital Twins enable a building designer to have all the information related to the building available in real-time. It provides instant access to all the information about a construction site. It helps the builders to be always sure about even the minutest thing like the required measurements of a beam.
The right use of technology always makes processes more efficient. The advantages of using digital twins in construction are many. Few of them are detailed below:
Real-time monitoring of a construction site by way of a digital twin verifies that the completed work is consistent with plans and specifications. With digital twins, it is possible to track changes in an as-built model — daily and hourly, and in case of any deviations, immediate action can be taken. Additionally, the condition of concrete, cracks on columns or any material displacement at the construction site can also be checked in a digital twin easily. Such discoveries lead to additional inspections and problems get detected faster, leading to faster solutions.
Digital Twins even lead to better allocation of resources and help the companies avoid wasting productive time on unnecessary movement and handling of materials. With the use of this technology, over-allocation can be avoided and also becomes easier to dynamically predict resource requirements onsite.
Even equipment usage can be tracked and unused ones can be released for other works. This saves time and money.
Safety is a huge concern in construction sites. Digital twins, by allowing companies to track people and hazardous places on a construction site, helps prevent usage of unsafe materials and activity in hazardous zones. Based on the real-time input, an early notification system can be developed that can let a construction manager know when a field worker is located in an unsafe region. A notification can also be sent to the worker’s wearable device to prevent a hazard from happening. Such a system ensures higher safety and no to minimal accidents at the site.
The advantages of using digital twin technology in construction are numerous. Old habits die hard, but to bring in more efficiency in construction, it is necessary to go digital. Use of digital twin technology can bring immense innovation to infrastructure development and take quality and efficiency to new heights. The industry must gear up and adapt to the changing digital environment!
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