Introducing the digital twin for Asset Management

The digital twin concept, well known in other industries, is now making its way to the built environment, driven by technological advancements and ambitious asset management organizations. The benefits are numerous and significant, but realization relies on the successful mobilization of technology, operational and financial disciplines.

Operational Efficiency

For a huge asset portfolio, maintaining a common overview of the state of every single component is a complex exercise. It is an exercise, however, that can and is being simplified with the use of digital twins. An efficient tool for planning, analyzing and executing work, the digital twin allows stakeholders to turn on their computer or mobile device and explore a fully detailed virtual replica of the physical structure and its surrounding areas. The model allows for heat maps displaying repair and replacement needs and timing throughout the asset landscape. Traffic impacts can be evaluated, and flows predicted and planned around work sites, making for smoother and safer execution. Stakeholders can check for access and click around for details.

When work is complete the team can update the information directly in the digital twin, and even upload photo evidence directly from a mobile device on site. With other data sources, such as embedded sensors, regularly and automatically feeding data into the system, the digital twin will always be true to physical reality.

Whether the asset owner executes work itself or engages contractors, the digital twin works as an effective planning tool and platform for evaluating solutions and scenarios and their impact.

The digital twin environment integrates underground assets such as sewer pipes

Strategic Optimization

Connecting operational and budget information to a physical representation of the infrastructure in a digital twin, brings the large amounts of data to life; it becomes relatable and operationalized. A data-enriched model allows for decision-making based on a multiple factors and according to a chosen set of objectives and strategic goals. The digital twin makes planning and analyzing asset management concrete and accessible in a realistic virtual environment. Decisions on whether to repair or replace, and when to repair or replace become well-founded and coordinated. An integrated digital twin provides a long-term view to improve total cost of ownership.

Communication and Collaboration

Infrastructure assets are inherently interconnected with each other and with the surrounding environment. This means that stakeholders from across large asset organization, must understand how their infrastructure relates and affects surroundings, and reap synergies from aligned planning, maintenance and operations efforts. For example, if two organizations are planning on doing work underground, it makes sense for them to do it at the same time, to avoid the inconvenience and cost of breaking up and reestablishing paving. In addition, stakeholders internally in organizations – from top management to maintenance staff – must have a common understanding of assets. Communication and collaboration is key. With a digital twin, everyone has the same point of reference, a collective truth. When all stakeholders have the same picture of reality it also becomes apparent how their own plans and incentives align – or misalign – with others’.

Developing the Digital Twin Environment

3D models are utilized throughout the construction phases – from preliminary design, detailed design, design optimization, production planning and optimization and to asset management. This means that all new structures are handed over with 3D materials that can be adapted to asset management needs. Existing structures can be digitized using point cloud scan. Copenhagen, for example, has scanned the whole city and made the point cloud data publicly available. The modelling of structures is therefor in most cases straight forward, but still requires a professional effort, especially when it comes to underground assets. The complex part is structuring the object and component data in a meaningful way and integrating the enriched model with budgeting and operational asset management systems, so that they function as unified platform with an intuitive interface.

Overground structures are modelled from a point cloud

The 360° TBM is the first platform that has successfully combined the digital twin with an enterprise asset management system as well as a dynamic budgeting tool, realizing the benefits described here. Sund & Bælt is currently spearheading the movement towards digitized asset management and has engaged specialized consultants to develop this platform for their extensive portfolio of complex infrastructure assets. CN3 Consulting Engineers is modelling a digital twin and has defined and developed the data integration to the budget and asset management systems in collaboration KPMG and IBM. With the principles of 360° TBM defined, CN3 is now is now working with Sund & Bælt on modelling the entire asset portfolio.

(CN3 puts cutting-edge digital technologies to work in asset management. We create detailed 3D models with stringent data structure to integrate intelligently with asset management systems. We provide 3D modelling and data management services for organizations throughout the asset life-cycle and deliver organizational context and surrounding system infrastructure based on our deep knowledge of model and data requirements and flows across asset types.)

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