What are Digital Twins and how is it related to BIM?

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What is a Digital Twin?

A digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical building or infrastructure. When the physical building is equipped with sensors, it can collect useful information which can then be processed to function like a digital living representation. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is used to create the virtual image of the physical building.

What does a Digital Twin do?

Using sensors placed throughout a facility, a Digital Twin can enable you to collect information about a building that can help you form key insights about how you can build and maintain that facility. When the data is applied using Artificial intelligence, it can assist your team to analyse data and obtain conclusions, improving these conclusions from experience. It is also able to solve incidents, suggest optimizations and predict operations.

What are the advantages of a Digital Twin?

First, a digital twin makes it possible to manufacture extremely high quality buildings and infrastructure. The design and construction can be planned well ahead in advance of execution, and then the virtual model and all potentially imaginable realities and extreme conditions can then be tested and optimized. This extensive process guarantees the production of a sophisticated, first-rate facility before the actual physical construction.

Second, a digital twin accompanies the physical building during its entire lifecycle. Built-in sensors on the physical facility constantly transmit information to the digital clone. The digital twin analyzes this information and we can use this information to continuously improve work processes and future designs. Sensors allow for the implementation of predictive maintenance. The ongoing transmission of control values to the cloud makes it possible to detect any irregularities quickly and with ease. They can also determine when maintenance is necessary based on use and wear and tear. This helps avoid expensive and unexpected repairs.

Virtual clones have no concept of time and space. That is why they are revolutionizing predictive maintenance. With one click of the mouse they can clock hundreds of operating hours and simulate uncountable environmental conditions. The information provided to these digital twins by the physical product is providing facility owners with more insight about their buildings and making it possible for them to predict more than they ever could before.

Why is it beneficial to use a Digital Twin?

Digital twins will transform many processes. One of the main benefits is that they enable companies to detect problems in advance and resolve them more quickly. They can warn of any future breakdown, incident or anomaly in their operation and interact. They can even work autonomously by being able to analyse a situation, propose optimised solutions and put them into operation.

When a company builds a digital replica of its products, the environments in which they operate and the systems that produce them, it can predict virtually everything that will happen in the physical world. For engineers, digital twins are very useful because, having a detailed history of the previous model, they can correct errors and create new, more reliable versions. And the data proves this right. In 2018, consultancy firm IDC detected 30% improvements in the critical processes of companies that invested in this technology.

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Case Study

Creation of BIM Design Models for MRT Lines

AcePLP was tasked to create (i) the horizontal and vertical rail alignments, (ii) running rails (iii) sleepers with baseplate and fasteners, (iv) third rail components, (v) bufferstops and (vi) to create a combined model of the sleepers and running rails throughout the 3D alignment, including turnouts.