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Digital Builder Ep 16: 3 Things We Learned About Getting Started With Digital Twins

The phrase “digital twin” regularly comes up in forward-thinking conversations about construction innovation and technology, making it one of the most buzzed about topics in the industry.

What exactly is a digital twin? Simply put, it’s a digital replica of a built asset. It’s important to note that a digital twin isn’t just a static copy of a building. Ultimately, it provides a bi-directional link between the digital and physical worlds, so that the digital reflects everything that’s happening with regard to a real world asset’s utilization performance.

More than just a buzzword or trend, digital twins can truly transform how we develop and maintain buildings.

On Episode 16 of Digital Builder, Bob Bray, Senior Director & General Manager for Autodesk Tandem and Tim Kelly, Senior Product Manager at Autodesk, joined us to shed light on the ins and outs of digital twins. In this episode, we covered:

What a digital twin is and how it’s createdThe benefits of adopting a digital twin Tips and avoidable challenges when implementing a digital twin Maintaining digital assets and the future of digital twin technology The incubator process at Autodesk

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“Don’t think about digital twins as something that’s so far-fetched that you can’t achieve it today. It’s a tool that you can start small with and ultimately develop over time.” — Tim Kelly

Interested in learning more about Autodesk Tandem? Check it out here

New Episodes Every Two Weeks

Digital Builder is hosted by me, Eric Thomas. Remember, new episodes of Digital Builder go live every two weeks. You can hear more episodes like this one by subscribing to Digital Builder on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Getting Started with Digital Twins: 3 Steps to Get It Right

One of the key themes in this episode is simply deciding where to start the process. If a hypothetical owner or contractor wanted to implement a digital twin, what are the initial steps they should take?

According to Bob and Tim, construction professionals should do the following.

1. Understand the high-level benefits of a digital twin

Remember, a digital twin is more than just a replica of a built asset. Rather, it’s a dynamic, real-time version of a building that’s closely linked to the physical asset. Ideally, both the physical and digital assets are maintained properly in order to fully reap the benefits of having a digital twin.

As Bob puts it, “At the end of the day, a digital twin is — if it’s healthy — a living, breathing entity. It’s the current state of your facility and everything about it.”

It takes commitment to create and maintain a digital twin, so in order to obtain buy-in from stakeholders, you need to help them understand the advantages of having one.

An important benefit is that a digital twin collects real-time performance data. It displays this data in a meaningful way to provide insights that can help owners better understand how their assets are doing and if they are meeting the necessary KPIs.

“If you have certain sustainable goals, you’ll be able to see if you’re achieving them. If you have equipment and want to measure mean time between failure, having a digital twin helps you do that,” explains Bob.

The bottom line, he says, is that “A digital twin gives you the knowledge to inform, predict, and look at future decisions based on how that asset is performing in the real world.”

Another important value proposition is the time and cost savings that owners can realize through the use of digital twins.

Rather than doing expensive site surveys, says Bob, owners can rely on digital twins to give them the data they need without having to physically be in the building.

A digital twin can also streamline building maintenance, as it keeps all the necessary information under a single pane of glass. In many traditional buildings, data is fed into disjointed systems that make it difficult to surface meaningful insights. A digital twin, in contrast, provides a holistic platform on which data can be accessed and used.

2. Start small and develop your digital twin process over time

Once you get the green light to get started with digital twins, it can be tempting to try to do as much as you can right from the get-go.

However, your efforts will be much more successful if you start pragmatically. The key isn’t to revamp all your assets and collect tremendous amounts of data. It’s far better to be intentional with what you build and collect. Prioritize the assets that you absolutely need to manage first and go from there.

“One of the challenges that people face is they want to collect absolutely everything about everything,” says Tim. “But if you’re intentional about what you want collected and what data you want to leverage — and you can think about how that gets organized — then you’re in a much better spot.”

If you aren’t sure where to start, Tim recommends looking at industry standards and using them as guidance. “Ultimately, you can whittle that down and narrow that information over time and put it into practical application.”

It’s also important to have a discussion with your team on what assets are required, says Bob.

“An essential action step is getting together with your facility management team and understanding — from an FM perspective — the assets you need to manage in that facility going forward,” he says.

Bob recommends asking questions like:

What are the spaces in that facility that I need to utilize and manage effectively?How do the systems that connect those assets actually work?What data do I need for each of these pieces?

Once you have that conversation, get the necessary components in the contract and have the team deliver everything in a digital format, rather than an analog set of papers.

“If we can get this data in our hands at project turnover, then I think that’s where the industry changes and the opportunity that owners have to really kick start this process and put it into high gear,” Bob adds.

3. Assign a point person to maintain digital twins

The success of your digital twin doesn’t just lie in its creation; you need to maintain it as well.

As Tim points out, “If you’re not using the information [from the digital twin], and you’re not engaging with it, then you’re ultimately going to have stagnant data.”

He adds, “You need to be actively engaging and using the digital twin to maintain and operate the facility.”

Maintaining your built and digital assets takes commitment and ongoing effort. Buildings and facilities change over time. Components are swapped out, renovations take place, and assets need to be updated to stay current.

Amidst all this, it’ll be extremely helpful to assign a point person to look after the digital twin and ensure that it evolves along with its physical counterpart.

“Certainly, if you’re looking at adapting a digital twin, you need a point person or a team member involved,” remarks Tim.

“It could ultimately be part of the capital projects team or maybe even part of the facilities maintenance team, but I would say you need to appoint someone to look after that and be the liaison for other contributors and consumers over time.”

Depending on the situation, it may also make sense for contractors to take on the responsibility.

“There’s a clear opportunity for AEC firms and for contractors to become a better partner and help manage that digital data on behalf of that owner,” says Bob.

“Many times, owners don’t have the detailed experience in this, and contractors do. That’s one value that they can bring to the owner. It tightens up the partnership between the contractor and it facilitates better communication between the two. It’s also a much longer opportunity to work together and delivers more value to the owner over time.”

Listen to the Full Episode of Digital Builder

During our conversation Bob and Tim shared so much more about digital twins and how AEC pros and owners can be more successful when using them. Catch the full conversation by checking out Episode 16 of Digital Builder on the following platforms:

Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle PodcastsOr wherever you listen to podcasts

The post Digital Builder Ep 16: 3 Things We Learned About Getting Started With Digital Twins appeared first on Digital Builder.

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Construction Services

How to Manage Project Risk with Construction Data Analytics 

The phrase ‘construction data analytics’ may be enough to make your eyes glaze over. But every day on construction sites, teams are coordinating hundreds of subcontractors, managing thousands of open issues, and navigating constant onsite changes. As construction projects continue to grow in complexity, teams need the right insights to minimize risk and improve quality and safety initiatives.  

Furthermore, the digitization of construction processes and the use of mobile devices on jobsites means more data is being captured than ever before. But 95% of that data is going unused by construction and engineering firms, according to FMI.  

Data analytics are no longer a nice to have – they are essential to providing the right insights to improve quality and reduce risk. When teams are equipped with the right information and data, they can improve decision making and project outcomes. It’s the reason we built powerful data analytics capabilities into our Insight product for both Autodesk Construction Cloud unified platform and BIM 360.  

Let’s explore four capabilities within Insight that empowers teams to leverage insights to minimize risks.  

1. Dashboards

Within Insight, anyone on the project can view a summary of critical and actionable information through preset and customizable dashboards. These dashboards can be easily configured by adding or removing cards from the Card Library including third party partner cards, as well as dragging and dropping cards to customize views. Additionally, users can share any custom dashboards with other team members based on role, company, or specific users.  

Dashboards are created on both a project and cross project level. From within a project, you can see present dashboards for Quality, Safety, Project Controls, Design, and Risk (if your project leverages Construction IQ).  

From the Executive Overview view within Insight, executives can view cross project dashboards to make more informed business decisions and gain visibility into overall risk assessment. Through these dashboards, executives can view risk levels of individual projects by location as well as drill down to see patterns of risk over time. By analyzing patterns, executives can optimize processes across similar projects.   

These dashboards allow you to easily visualize project progress and determine which areas of the project may need the most attention.  

“The ability to identify risks across projects enables us to prioritize opportunities for improvement and reduce risk to future projects.” – Anthony Colonna, Senior Vice President, Skanska

Build - Customize Dashboard Mockup

2. Reports

Reporting is a necessary but often time-consuming project activity. Within Insight, we aim to make reporting easier. By having a centralized place to create, schedule, and share reports, teams save a lot of time and always know where to find the most current information.  

Within the Reports tool you will find a series of reporting options including Issue, RFI, and Submittal summary and detail reports. Reports are easily customizable and can be grouped by or filtered to fit your specific needs. Finally, these reports can be scheduled on a reoccurring basis and shared with other team members based on user, company, or role.    

“The reporting and dashboarding features in Construction IQ provide clear and concise feedback on the various project critical data streams. This information enables our project management teams to make the right decisions more rapidly and effectively,” says Michael Murphy, Digital Construction Operations Manager at BAM Ireland. “With these features, we’re having less reactive conversations with more emphasis on KPIs that can drive continual improvement. The simple visualization of the challenge or the issue alone helps us bring that focus.” 

Build - Reports Mockup

3. Data Connector

Through a single click, Data Connector allows teams to quickly extract project data from both the Autodesk Construction Cloud platform or BIM 360 for customized use in other robust business intelligence tools. You can also easily schedule extractions and sync them directly to Power BI through the Power BI Connector. And to make this a full circle connection, you can even use the Power BI partner card to then view those Power BI dashboards directly within an Insight dashboard and share it with the rest of the project team.  

We also created easy to set up Power BI templates so that you can quickly start leveraging your data and customizing dashboards to see exactly what you want.  

The Data Connector saves teams time and money by giving them a tool to extract data without needing expensive APIs or custom coding in addition to improving data visualizations to inform better business decisions. 

BIM 360 - RFI Dashboard Mockup

4. Construction IQ

Construction IQ is a machine learning based capability that delivers risk analysis of quality, safety, design, and project controls data from both Autodesk Construction Cloud platform and BIM 360 projects. Construction IQ moves beyond the traditional concept of static data and takes prediction to the next level with assistive, action-based intelligence. The capability allows users to: 

Better manage project risk and outcomes by identifying high risk issues that have the potential to impact cost, schedule, quality, and safety Evaluate subcontractor performance and predict potential risks on a day-to-day basis and for future projects Help project leaders understand high risk quality problems and actions to mitigate that risk Help design teams identify issues that are at higher risk to turn into costly RFIs downstream during construction Give project leaders visibility into RFI risk to prioritize and manage RFIs that could add significant cost and schedule impacts Help safety managers understand leading indicators to potential behavioral and environmental hazards and take proactive measure before incidents happen Help construction executives identify risks across projects and proactively improve project outcomes 

Most importantly, you do not have to do any extra work to get the benefit of Construction IQ. All data captured during construction is continuously and automatically analyzed. 

Monitor - Risk construction iq

Power Project Success with Better Construction Data Analytics 

Get more out of your project data with Insight for the Autodesk Construction Cloud platform and BIM 360. Learn more here

The post How to Manage Project Risk with Construction Data Analytics  appeared first on Digital Builder.

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