A digital twin is a virtual representation of a space. It’s made by taking ultra-high definition images, using highly sophisticated, cutting-edge technology.
Imagine you’re the lead on the build of a new transport hub. There are a lot of moving parts and co-dependent streams of work. A delay in one can delay several others. So you make sure everyone meets regularly on site – even if your contractors’ offices are in Leeds, Hamburg, Edinburgh and Milwaukee.
Project management alone can cost hundreds of thousands – and more. It can be a tiring and stressful process. The documentation is held in collaboration software… and progress is reviewed at those crucial weekly meetings, which traditionally need all trades to be on site.
For decades, this has been the reality of project managing builds, refits and deployments, wherever in the world they take place.
But digital twin technology is changing everything.
Now imagine instead a lead engineer called Sita. She’s deploying a key component of the hub’s infrastructure – let’s say, the lifts and escalators. Her contribution to the project depends on the readiness of many other players – and having all relevant information, accurately documented down to the last millimetre.
The project timelines indicate that Sita’s team should start on-site work in a few weeks. Which means she needs to allocate teams, hire contractors and generally get ready to hit “go”.
Instead of booking her flight to get status reports at those weekly meetings, she pours herself a coffee and logs on to the system.
She doesn’t need a hard hat this time. She doesn’t need to meet up with other contractors. Instead, she can walk through a digital twin of the site, from wherever she wants and whenever she wants. She virtually strolls through the environment in augmented reality (AR), checking the precise 3D version of the physical site.
Sita has a checklist to run through – everything from basic measurements through to power supply, steel reinforcement in lift shafts and construction tolerances. She finds a feature she needs to know about, clicks on it and sees the schematic update created last week – exactly what she needs. She wants to double-check the width of an entry point, so she navigates to the point and measures the ingress area, using the AR, that’s been constructed since she last logged in. Good, she thinks, the paperwork and the actual dimensions tally.
In the course of the morning, she’s able to tick through all of them. Everything indeed seems to be on track – which means she can plan her implementation.
As is clear in this scenario, one of the many functions of a digital twin is to let you “see” a site – in minute, technical detail – without stepping foot outside your office or home.
So how do you create a digital twin?
To create a digital twin, we use sophisticated technology to generate detailed 3-D images of the site in progress. The images go from floor to ceiling – and show pinpoint details in ultra-high definition. Digital twin capture is meticulous work that requires precise understanding – and there is increasing demand for digital twin capture services that are carried out by skilled professionals at ASH.
These digital twin schematics are then uploaded into virtual reality platforms. It’s painstaking work that involves mapping every feature and capturing detailed information.
Digital twin can complement how you manage all physical assets. It can minimize management cost for the life of assets and reduce spend on construction projects significantly.
When we add our Asset TAG service, we can hold crucial intel that includes installation, product and lifecycle attributes, regulatory details, serial numbers, precise locations, dimensions – and more besides.
All the information held on tagged assets is kept in a database. So let’s imagine now that the transport hub opened its doors successfully and two years later, Mike is now head of site maintenance.
It’s vitally important for Mike that he can keep things moving – so he regularly interrogates the database of tagged assets, which allows him to take a predictive approach to maintenance.
He can search which of the assets in the database will need servicing at which times and schedule maintenance accordingly. Meantime, his colleague Sheila, the Financial Director of the hub, is looking ahead at the effect of asset depreciation on financial reporting. She uses the database to identify which assets need to be replaced over the next three years – and allocates budget accordingly.
Digital twin is more than a design tool
Mike and Sheila aren’t using digital twin technology to design or deploy. They’re using it in business-critical, operational and strategic ways.
They know that to remain competitive and agile, they need baked-in ways of working that reduce costs, speed up delivery times – and that allow them to accurately predict future commitments.
We are in the early days of digital twin technology, but it is already becoming a vital tool for businesses across the world, helping them to maintain a competitive edge, while driving down costs and introducing radical efficiencies.
If you’d like to talk about digital twin and how it could help you think bigger – call us. We’d be interested to hear what you want to achieve.