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Building a Digital (Twin) Future

Do you want a digital representation of the future physical asset that you are going to be constructing before you ever put a bucket in the ground during the planning phase of a project? Everyone is going to answer that question yes, according to Andy Kaiyala, vice president of construction technology and controls, WSB.

“Do we have the technology to enable that to happen? The answer is yes. So, if we want it and the technology is available, it becomes a question of timing. Not if, but when,” he explains.

The good news is the next evolution of construction is here: digital twins. Now the question remains: How can construction leaders expand their adoption of 3D or 4D digital twins? Rich Humphrey, vice president of construction product management, Bentley Systems, suggests they need to do two things to start.

“They need to understand their state of how they are leveraging technology today and what the value of moving to digital twins or model-based workflows are for their business,” Humphrey says.

With model-based workflows with a digital twin, companies can plan better, optimize resources, and deliver projects on time through building a project in a 3D/4D environment versus making mistakes in the field. Also, contractors can do things like model-based quantity takeoff and estimating that ensures they can more efficiently create estimates and quantities and if designs change they can quickly get new estimates, according to Humphrey.

Additionally, construction professionals can control execution of the project and achieve better transparency, which yields improved conflict resolution. The technology can also help with risk mitigation and avoidance and emboldened project teams who make better business decisions with better and more timely information, says Kaiyala.

After understanding the value, then make a plan and create a business strategy, says Humphrey. Kaiyala adds, “Having a plan is critical to success and one aspect of a plan is you don’t have to swallow the apple all in one bite. Bite off what you think you can take on initially and then walk along a journey and see it as a step-by-step process that is going to bring you to digital maturity, but you aren’t going to get there in one step.” This is a very valuable statement. Too often in construction, we get lost in making big mistakes and choke on those because they become time consuming and costly.

That is why it is so vital to always keep the future in mind. “Don’t think in terms of only solving today’s problems, but think in terms of where is the industry heading,” says Kaiyala. “What kinds of problems would I like to solve in the future using this digital approach?”

At the end of the day, Humphrey says the ultimate goal is to transform the way the industry works within the construction phase, but even managing information through the lifecycle from how design data is transferred into a construction company and the way projects are delivered, which ultimately changes the outcomes.

To help, SYNCHRO is iTwin enabling technology for construction. It is a purpose-built construction management offering that manages information and tasks from preconstruction planning all the way through execution. This is really a product created specifically to enable construction teams to build uniquely and intentionally.

“The Bentley WSB partnership is going to pave the way and be a model for how to help construction firms cross the chasm in terms of going from where they are today to the desired construction digital twin type of workflows,” says Humphrey. How will your construction company move forward into a new digital era?

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