A construction twin is a “virtual representation of a construction site that spans its lifecycle, is updated from real-time data, and uses simulation, machine learning and reasoning to help decision-making.” (IBM definition of a digital twin model) and is applied to the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industries.
In plain English, this just means creating a highly complex virtual model that is the exact counterpart (or twin) of a physical thing. The ‘thing’ could be a car, a building, a bridge, or a jet engine. Connected sensors on the physical assets at all stages of the project, collect lots of data, this can be mapped onto the virtual model. Anyone looking at the construction twin can now visualise crucial information about how the construction project is doing out there in the real world.
“We’ve been struggling with the connection between cost data, programme and site activities as a business for a long time and The Excel Experts bring significant skill and innovation to bear. Not just on the specific challenges, but in being keen to understand how other businesses operate, but on how different software platforms interact.
This is critical in the world of disruptive technologies because we don’t just need to innovate, we need to challenge the very way we are working in construction.”
Design Manager. Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd.
WE have historically worked as ‘two departments’ in Main Contracting which have separated the find and win parts of the business from the delivery or execution parts. Therefore pricing or estimating is working from one set of documents, while delivery or execution from another based on real world conditions
The difficulty with this is that increasingly a large part of the project value is finally designed and executed by specialist designers and installer under the construction team during the contract.
This has a huge ongoing impact in terms of risk certainty in pricing and subsequently in delivery as the unknown or site based parts have to be included as contractual risk, and then can disproportionately effect final time and cost.
What needs to be developed is a feedback loop where real world site based 3D models work in conjunction with pricing and billing documents to interact with site activities, and report cost in a way which is compatible with Excel, the industry standard.
This will allow better forecasting, and also risk in execution by updating actual progress data captured through drones and other digital surveys to a progressive 3D ‘twin’ modelled in the real world location and context. which is linked to time cost and material tracking.
This strategy requires a host digital information in a dynamic 3D/4D software platform with flexibility for software plug-ins feeding back to cost control documents, ie. spreadsheets so that the flow of information is two way.