Although the construction sector has had a late start in the digitalization wave, digital technology help companies mitigate risk and improve resource efficiency. Multiple challenges rig this industry, including low productivity, profitability, project timeline management, labour, and sustainability challenges. However, technological developments that cater to other industries, can seamlessly address many of these common challenges. 

With vast advancement in technological capabilities, sensors, smart engineering solutions, and smart algorithms are paving the way to lessen the gap between the digital and physical, to help provide smarter, cost-effective, and time-saving infrastructure solutions. 

Real-time information regarding each beam and bolt, or details of materials and machinery that is promptly available, or, the capability to remotely monitor soil volumes in the cuts to actual fill. All this and much more is possible today with digital twin technology. 

Digital Twin Technology connects the physical structure with a real-time digital representation. Typically this information is relayed through sensors that constantly monitor changes in the physical world, and concurrently indicate these changes in its digital representation. 

Such a digital replica can help in ideation, modeling, simulation, informed analysis, production, and planning. It can be used as the foundation for pre-fabrication and scaled to achieve industrialized efficiency. 

How does it work?

Various types of sensors and cameras are used to develop the digital replica of an asset. These include laser scanners, radars, cameras such as thermal imaging, time-lapse, body mounted, and even standard photo and video cameras. UAVs like drones, robots, and fixed wing planes equipped with high-resolution cameras and sensors are also employed. Multi-modal sensor data and algorithms using photogrammetry, simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), object tracking, and robotics, develop the digital replica of the asset.

Applications of Digital Twin Technology

A real-time reporting of as-built compared to as-designed models deliver many advantages. With access to real-time data, predictive models can be developed, enabling operators to make better decisions with forward simulation. Some of the many benefits of digital twin technology include 

Real-time monitoring – As against actual site inspection or field personnel reports, real-time monitoring reduces human estimation errors leading to significant cost and time savings. 

As-Built and As-Designed Models- Digital Twin enables a continual tracking of changes, hourly and daily. Digital Twins support testing of changes in processes, which aids in better decision making.

On-site risk reduction – Research shows that one in every five worker deaths in private industry is in the construction sector. Digital Twins help track people and red flag risky locations within the site, to help avert accidents, inappropriate movements and avoid movement of unsafe material. On-field managers can be notified early when workers or equipment are in dangerous zones. Workers themselves can be alerted on approaching hazardous locations with AI-enabled wearable devices.

Quality Examination – Assessment of the quality of work, such as the condition of concrete or checks for column cracks can be done through digital twin. Early detection of discrepancies can initiate further inspection and avoid possible problems in the build. 

ints. DigitEquipment and Resource Efficiency – Digital Twin technology allows for improved resource allocation and equipment optimization, indicating where and when resources and machinery are required. Better resource management lays the foundation for predictive and lean approach to project management, saving cost, and time. 

Eliminating conventional limitations – The need to adhere to safety norms and tight timelines have generally hindered construction developers in their creative pursuits of design. With digital simulation, ideas can be easily tested bfactoring in physical aspects such as scale, elements of weather, and safety norms.  

Continuity – Digital twin delivers a value add to clients, providing continued support of data points even with on-going structural changes. With information in a centralized platform that is automatically updated, details are not lost. The digital twin model evolves with the constructed asset over the years.

With cities and buildings becoming increasingly smarter and sustainable, construction developers would look for means to harness data and AI to build data-driven management systems. For instance, energy requirement makes for 19% of the total expense in an average construction. A data-driven energy management solution, such as a digital twin technology, would directly benefit the bottom line and the environment. 

As the scope of Digital Twin increases, organizations can drive enterprise operating models, that identify inefficiencies and optimize opportunities. Utilizing AI, digital twins can enable an efficient digital value loop and build a unified lifecycle management system. Gartner predicts that by 2021 there would be over 25 billion Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints. Digital Twin is increasingly becoming critical to IoT deployment, and the future of the construction industry would see it being used right from bidding to the completion of projects and beyond.