There is a desperate need for Infrastructure repair in America, highlighted by our score of a C- on the American Society of Civil Engineer’s report card. The recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) aims to repair the nation’s roads, bridges, pipelines, waterways, and grid with an incredible $1.2 trillion that will jumpstart construction projects across the country. However, this funding can only be so successful in industries plagued by systemic delays, frequent rework, and ballooning budgets. To successfully transform U.S. infrastructure, teams need to address a persistent challenge: data. With this in mind, digital twin technology will prove central to bringing U.S. infrastructure into the 21st century, improving communication, productivity, and data integrity in construction.
The benefits of Building Information Modeling are augmented with digital twins. Digital twins are like a living model. A digital twin built to bridge the field and office can transform the entire asset lifecycle from construction site to ongoing O&M. For the nation’s highways and electrical grid to last, the hand-off between owners, engineers, and general contractors can’t be neglected. From the very beginning, stakeholders along the value chain need to collaborate on a digital twin platform and align on designing, building, and maintaining infrastructure that will endure for future generations.
What Is Digital Twin Technology?
Greg Bentley, Bentley Systems CEO, highlights a key feature of digital twins in explaining his company’s objective with the technology, “Our endeavors till now have made software to produce useful deliverables, but therefore a static and dated purpose. Our objective in Digital Twins is to make the value of those deliverables endure over the longevity of the asset and have evergreen visibility into what has been ‘dark engineering’ data to synchronize its changes over time and to open up this dark data for immersive visualization. But even more importantly, the visibility of analytics, including analytics over time for Digital Twin is that fourth dimension, 4D.”
In other words, a digital twin provides unparalleled visibility from design to construction and enduring O&M. This makes it so that there is nothing lost between hand-offs but and data is actually able to inform decision-making.
Too often, we see paper, poorly integrated apps, siloed legacy systems, or spreadsheets preventing stakeholders throughout the value chain from accessing actionable data or creating a rich system of record.
Let’s take construction as an example.
It may be old news that construction’s reliance on analog technologies has contributed to its productivity crisis. However, it’s key to understand that construction’s delays and high costs have ripple effects, all of which ultimately impact the health and longevity of an asset. Digital twin technology promises to not only overcome many of the data and communication challenges within construction but transform the entire asset lifecycle.