Digital Twins: Taking Construction Modeling to the Next Level

As we reach the midpoint of 2023, an influx of new technologies and AI advancements are flooding the market and revolutionizing the way we do business. One distinct innovation has transformed the future of BIM modeling and steel detailing by bridging the gap between the virtual and the concrete: the digital twin.  

What Is a Digital Twin? 

Simply put, a digital twin is a virtual representation of a real-life object, but the capabilities of a digital twin extend far beyond that of your average 3D model. A digital twin links the model to the structure’s performance data and all relevant systems through IoT technologies installed on the products, such as sensors, cameras and 3D laser scanners. The digital twin is then able to automatically update the status of the connected structure, offering insights on physical orientation, stress loads, electrical systems and maintenance concerns.  

How Is a Digital Twin Used? 

A digital twin can provide an exact replica of any construction product, including buildings, bridges, highways or even entire cities. Once the digital twin is created, engineers and detailers can simulate changes to the project without incurring any real-world consequences, such as cost or wasted resources. For example, the resilience of a bridge can be tested based on potential traffic patterns and environmental stressors to see how varying the support structures can increase its load capacity—all without erecting a single beam.  

Because the data offers real-time updates, the digital twin can also help monitor and predict maintenance concerns once the structure is in place, thereby optimizing its lifespan.  

What Are the Benefits of a Digital Twin? 

Digital twins offer numerous practical advantages for businesses within the steel industry, including: 

  1. Preventative Maintenance: As mentioned above, the data collected by the digital twin can help identify potential problems before they cause serious damage to the asset. By implementing preventative maintenance and scheduling inspections when indicated by the digital twin, you can minimize unplanned downtime and maximize the performance of the equipment.  
  1. Risk Reduction: The use of simulation lowers the risk of testing new products or methods by saving valuable time and resources. On an operational level, it also improves worker safety by minimizing equipment malfunction and reducing the need for workers in the field through remote data collection.  
  1. Up-to-Date Information: Digital twins bridge the gap between the office and the job site by providing accurate, real-time information throughout each phase of construction.  
  1. Employee Training: Digital twins can be a powerful training tool as they allow trainees to work with accurate replicas of machines and processes without interfering with real-life production.  
  1. Cost Savings: Ultimately, digital twins can help improve your bottom line by optimizing efficiency, minimizing equipment failure and reducing the need for rework.  

Anatomic Iron Steel Detailing excels in both 3D and BIM modeling to support our steel detailing services Contact us to get started on your next detailing project!