Creating the True Digital Twin: Without Adding Costs to Your Project

Written by Chelsea Johnston

The Digital Twin is Complete Data

Digital Twin has long been synonymous with Building Information Modeling (BIM), Revit, or 3D Models. Digital twins in construction also go by, virtual models, or next-generation as-built drawings. The digital twin concept is not new, but it is ever-improving in the digital twin market. It has transformed into a more complete snapshot of a finished construction project.

Now, a true digital twin is a collection of all data through the construction process and even before the project starts. This data has to be fully collected and organized in an easy-to-view technology, for the lifecycle of the project. You also need an experienced third party, with a dedicated Project Information Manager, to collect all data to obtain true digital twins.

What is a Digital Twin?

The great thing about digital twins is that they are specific to the project’s needs. In construction, a digital twin is an exact digital replica of a construction project. Projects can range from airport terminals, runways or taxiways, a building, multiple buildings, roadways, or mixed-use developments. Digital twins can also be referred to as data twins, as-builts, or models and can include software programs, such as Revit, SketchUp, or Rhino. Digital twins can be whatever the project needs them to be but must include all data; weather, reports, submittals, photos, warranties, videos, emails, meeting minutes, as-builts, etc.

Preparing for the Digital Twins

Digital Twins are created by grabbing real data in any form and turning it into an exact replica in the digital world. The data is used to generate a virtual model of what was created. The digital twin prototype can be done with traditional methods, such as hand drawings or CAD files. The digital twin begins before the project starts and is captured through the closeout, with no information missing. No matter your method, the real-world data needs to be obtained and turned into a virtual representation.

Creating the Digital Twin Virtual Model

As project data is gathered, the digital twin is created. Digital twins rely on communication, collaboration, up-front work, and real-time capabilities to be successful. The first step is to create a repository for all the project’s real-world data. This needs to be with a third-party digital twin technology software as a service such as MySmartPlans. Next, the data is organized and audited to ensure all data is included and categorized to make it easier to find and use. Finally, digital transformation is created as you create the digital twins. 

Most importantly the digital twin has to be an exact replica of the construction project.

Using the Digital Twin

The digital twin can be useful throughout the construction process, such as construction coordination, project management, facilities management, and marketing and sales. 

Construction Coordination:

The digital twin coordinates construction activities and this data collection start, even before the design phase. This includes, but is not limited to scheduling, sequencing, and phasing. 

Project Management:

The digital twin manages the construction project. Full documentation assists in communication throughout construction and creates an integrated repository for all team members to collaborate through. This includes, but is not limited to tracking progress, budget, and schedule. A complete real-time data digital twin is the best way to track quality control and performance.

Facilities Management:

The digital twin helps manage the facilities after construction is complete. This includes maintenance, operational data, and security. This is where the digital twin becomes so useful in the physical world after the project closeout. The owner’s team can refer to the digital twin for warranty information on a faulty AC Unit, Training Videos for fixtures, and replacement information for specific tiles. The digital twin is accessible throughout the life cycle of the facility, taxiway, bridge, etc.

Marketing and Sales:

The digital twin can be used to market and sell construction projects. This includes creating renderings, animations, virtual representations, digital models, and virtual tours. The digital twin is a packaged map of the finished product and any buyer would revel in having that information.

The important thing is that the digital twin is used to its full potential! Gather data completely throughout the project lifecycle and the digital twin is the digital version of the construction project.

Getting the Most out of the Digital Twin

There are several ways to use the digital twin but to get the most out of your project, it needs to include all project data and be easily accessible from day one throughout project closeout. To ensure the most out of your digital twin:

  1. Make sure that all data is captured in your digital environment. Every piece of data, file, model, photo, and weather information needs to be collected by a third-party system that specializes in obtaining complete information. All data needs a Project Information Manager that ensures this data collection.
  2. Organize and categorize the data to make it easier to find and use later. Naming conventions should be room names, physical objects or file names, dates, and not just a jumble of numbers. 
  3. Create the digital twin with a software program. This creates the integration of all digital data into one easy-to-use digital twin technology that is searchable.
  4. Use the digital twin to its full potential. The most important thing is to ensure that all data is captured in your virtual environment. MySmartPlans can guarantee all of this, read on to find out how.

How Can I Ensure a Complete Digital Twin?

The best way to ensure complete data is to hire a third-party construction document management company specializing in the digital twin market, such as MySmartPlans. MySmartPlans will ensure all data is collected and organized throughout the project with a specialized Project Information Manager that works solely with your project on data collection for the digital twin. MySmartPlans ensures data is collected and audited for any missing information, giving you the complete digital twin from design into facilities management or the real-world counterpart. If your digital twin does not contain all project information, then what good is it in the real world!? 

The Future of the Digital Twin

Our digital twin project information experts create an easy-to-use dashboard with all project updates and complete data that is organized and searchable. Our Project Information Managers are the fly on the wall and sit in on every project meeting, integrate any system used during the project lifecycle, audit data for missing information, and collect additional data such as weather and schedules to provide a complete digital twin to you. Additionally, upon closeout, we create SmartRooms, which are QR code stickers placed on the physical counterpart, for an instant scannable repository of warranties, training videos, and complete information for the physical version. The digital twin technology begins and ends with our expertise in getting the job done.

How to Ensure the Digital Twin on Projects?

It is incredibly crucial for the digital twin to be written into the contract, so as not to incur additional costs upon project closeout! Those working on the construction of the project should have all the big data, but you can’t count on them to turn it over at closeout in an organized and complete repository. If the MySmartPlans digital twin technology is not written into the contract, the owner/ shareholders can be left on the hook to pay more money at project completion. Protect your physical asset from the beginning of the project, and make sure all data is collected to be turned over at no additional cost!

MySmartPlans Includes the Digital Twin Technology at No Additional Cost

There is no additional cost to gain your digital twin dashboard at the end of the project when you bring MySmartPlans on board! We have a small fee based on the project budget, including the construction management of all data. We ensure all data is captured, audited, and organized, by our project information manager assigned to your project and create a digital twin dashboard that integrates all complex systems. We integrate with all virtual models in the digital twin industry for a perfect digital representation.

We guarantee digital twins will reach their full potential for over 50 years with our software as a service. No digital twins should be one size fit all, so we create a real-world customizable dashboard with peak efficiency. No other company can ensure complete digital twin work as MySmartPlans, our software as a service does.

Other Advantages of MySmartPlans

Our software management technology provides real-time feedback to improve decision-making throughout the project lifecycle. Digital workflows improve project outcomes throughout all stages of the infrastructure asset twins’ lifecycle—from design through construction, to operations and maintenance—and deliver higher product quality. Protect your physical assets and embrace digital transformation while managing your construction project.

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Shelley Armato

Dominick Armato

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