Digital twins can help infrastructure become smarter and more sustainable. Here’s how this technology is driving innovation in the construction industry
Digital Twin is changing how infrastructure is designed, built and operated. This technology provides real-time simulation, monitoring, and analysis of physical objects and systems and optimizes their performance, predicting their behavior, and preventing failures. With a digital twin, various industries can glean valuable insights into a product’s functionality, resilience, and limitations without physically modifying a prototype.
So, if you’re ready to explore the power of digital twins applied to infrastructure, keep reading. We’ll dive into the possibilities and challenges of this innovative technology, and take a look at how you can plan and efficiently manage your infrastructure projects with a digital twin software, the only system that enables you to virtually replicate your assets and supports your project’s lifecycle management.
What is Infrastructure Digital Twin
An infrastructure digital twin is a computer model that reflects the behavior and features of an infrastructure, including its relation to the surrounding environment.
This model integrates with innovative technologies, such as IoT (Internet of Things), GIS (Geographic Information System) and AI (Artificial Intelligence), in order to create an interactive connection with its physical counterpart and collect relevant information in real time.
Once properly configured, the digital twin of an infrastructure becomes a powerful tool that helps Infrastructure Asset Management professionals to manage and keep under control all phases of a project’s lifecycle.
Let’s take a closer look at how this technology is revolutionizing the future of the construction industry.
How digital twins are transforming infrastructure
Digital twins are extremely realistic and dynamic models that can represent any type of infrastructure, including bridges, roads, railways, airports, energy systems, service networks, etc.
As you may already know, the implementation of these works has always been denoted by considerable complexity. With the introduction of Building Information Modeling we have, however, witnessed a first digital revolution that has literally changed the traditional methods of designing and building, making them more collaborative and efficient.
Through the use of infrastructural BIM models it is possible, for example, to evaluate different project hypotheses and choose the best one in terms of feasibility, environmental impact, construction times and costs, etc.. In fact, such models also enable you to obtain maximum control over interferences that could arise during the construction phase, and to solve the possible critical issues before they concretely occur.
With the advent of digital twin technology it has been possible to extend the potential of BIM to an even higher levels.
Particularly, by leveraging integration with smart sensors and IoT devices, infrastructure BIM models can transform into “living” systems capable of establishing constant communication with the real world.
Digital twins consequently act as a bridge between the physical and virtual domains and can be used to manage different aspects related to infrastructure design, construction and operation.
These models are able to incorporate and use data from drones, LiDAR scans and aerial mappings to assess the impact of the project in advance and improve the sustainability of the work.
Thanks to the data collected in real time by the intelligent sensors connected to the physical asset, it is also possible to develop predictive models that help to evaluate the future performance of the work and to experiment with possible improvements, without the need to test them on the infrastructure itself.
In addition to simulating the impact of different scenarios, digital twins have the characteristics of interactive feedback and can be used in infrastructure to optimize maintenance and repair programs. They allow, in fact, to develop a predictive approach that helps to identify and solve potential critical issues before they turn into serious problems.
They also help reducing the time and cost involved in on site inspections. For instance, digital twins enable engineers to virtually access the physical asset and perform checks and analyses of various kinds directly from their desktop so as to identify issues more quickly and accurately.
Benefits of using Digital Twins for Infrastructure
Basically, digital twins help create more efficient, productive and sustainable infrastructure. As a matter of fact, they allow you to:
- unifying different data sources (engineering, geospatial, IoT, etc.) and create a unique view of reality;
- evaluating the project in the surrounding context through simulations in virtual or augmented reality that also provide a clear analysis of its impact;
- creating intelligent transport systems based on the integration of different technologies;
- monitoring infrastructure operation in real time and obtain up-to-date and reliable information that helps to choose the most appropriate maintenance strategies;
- contributing to the creation of interconnected urban ecosystems that foster the development of Smart Cities.
Key challenges towards Digital Twin adoption in Infrastructure
Despite the numerous advantages offered by the use of digital twins in infrastructure, the challenges to be faced are still many, and can discourage even the most enterprising professionals.
It is necessary, in fact, to choose the right technologies for generating a digital twin. In addition. it is necessary to consider all the difficulties related to data acquisition, updates, accessibility to information, multi-user collaboration and so on.
For this reason, we recommend you to immediately try a digital twin software to start modeling virtual copies of your infrastructures and manage with the utmost simplicity and efficiency all the phases of their life cycle. Get the most value from your enterprise assets with this solution and find out how easy it is to design, monitor and manage the digital twins of your assets in real time.