Categories: Technology

How Digital Twins Are Changing Construction

How Digital Twins Are Changing Construction

“Measure twice and cut once,” goes an English proverb, emphasizing the importance of the accuracy and efficiency of a design for craftspeople, as it might end up being a waste of time and material otherwise.

The construction industry has long suffered from a poor reputation for its inefficiencies, delays, and cost overruns. Even though the industry has increasingly been embracing digitization, large projects can still take 20 percent longer to finish than scheduled and are typically up to 80 percent over budget.

But a new technology is emerging, and it has the potential to revolutionize the way we build, by making the act of “measuring twice and cutting once” in construction easier than ever: Digital twins.

What’s a Digital Twin?

The technology giant IBM describes a digital twin as “a virtual model designed to accurately reflect a physical object.” Therefore, a digital twin is a dynamic virtual representation of a physical asset, constantly updated with real-time data to mirror its behavior and condition. It’s a sophisticated 3D model that goes far beyond mere visuals, incorporating data streams from sensors, historical records, and even simulations.

Organizations can ditch guessing games and turn to digital twins, which act as virtual laboratories. These dynamic models simulate real-world scenarios, enabling informed decision-making based on predicted outcomes.

How is a Digital Twin Relevant to Construction?

In the realm of construction, digital twins, like virtual mirrors of physical assets, turbo-charge efficiency and decision-making.

Take the example of the construction of a windmill: Real-time sensor data from the actual turbines feeds into the digital twin, creating a dynamic representation of its performance and environmental conditions.

This digital counterpart becomes a powerful optimization tool. Wind patterns can be analyzed to strategically place additional turbines for maximum energy generation, while stress monitoring of critical components enables predictive maintenance, preventing costly downtime.

Construction teams can even rehearse complex procedures on the digital twin, ensuring smooth real-world execution.

5 Benefits of Digital Twins to Construction Projects

Digital twins offer a plethora of benefits for construction projects, impacting various stages and stakeholders, and extending way beyond the processes of design and building.

1. Enhanced Design and Planning

Digital twins overhaul design and planning by empowering stakeholders to virtually test various configurations, optimize material and equipment needs, and share a unified vision for smoother collaboration, ultimately minimizing costly rework and fostering efficient resource management.

In addition, all stakeholders have access to the same information, leading to better communication, transparency, and overall decision-making.

2. Increased Efficiency and Cost Reduction

By acting as a real-time mirror of the construction site, digital twins empower proactive identification and mitigation of delays, streamline workflows with data-driven optimizations, and catch errors and clashes early on, translating to significant cost reductions and smoother, more efficient project execution .

3. Improved Safety and Maintenance

Digital twins enhance safety by offering virtual tours to pinpoint hazards, and enable predictive maintenance by monitoring live sensor data. This prevents equipment failures and extend the lifespan of assets through optimized maintenance strategies, contributing to a safer and longer-lasting building or infrastructure.

4. Boosting Sustainable Outcomes

From minimizing material waste and optimizing energy efficiency to facilitating circular economy practices and remote collaboration, digital twins empower construction projects to reduce their environmental impact.

By acting as digital replicas of real-world projects, they guide informed decision-making, promote sustainable material choices, and enable smart building management, ultimately contributing to a greener future in construction.

5. Future-proofing Construction Projects

From flexible design updates to predictive maintenance and data-driven investment decisions, digital twins act as construction’s visionary guide, ensuring projects adapt to changing needs, remain resilient to future challenges, and leverage evolving technologies.

This adaptability, resilience, and open data ecosystem integration not only future-proof individual projects but also pave the way for a more sustainable and innovative construction industry as a whole.

dormakaba Editorial Team

dormakaba Editorial Team

dormakaba is one of the top three companies of access control and security solutions on the global market. The dormakaba Editorial Team is overseen by Rafael González-Palencia (Digital Editor), and Patrick Lehn (Senior Manager, Group External Communications).