Why You Need to Start Using Digital Twins

It’s no secret that balancing the needs of your building, its occupants, and your own sanity is no an easy task.

There’s constant inspection requirements, record-keeping, and maintenance issues to address. And through it all, your tenants or employees aren’t exactly thrilled with constant interruptions in their work-life environment.

There must be a better way to stay on top of the information you need, right?

There is.

One of the more recent concepts to help address these issues are digital twins – virtual models designed to accurately reflect a physical object.

While the original concept was first proposed in 2002 by Michael Grieves, NASA was already experimenting with the idea as early as the 1960s.

With recent advances in technology, the dreams of the past are the possibilities of today.

Digital twins go far beyond a mere simulation of your building.

Unlike simulations, digital twins are actual representations of your building or infrastructure.

While simulations typically study one particular process, digital twins can run a wide variety of useful simulations in order to study multiple processes.

The model is real-time, acting as a mirror copy of your subject.

The data captured for creating digital twins allows your digital copy to age alongside your actual physical structure.

From anywhere in the world, you’re able to monitor your facility and plan for its future.

They also eliminate the need for you to be physically present in order to conduct inspections and testing.

There are numerous benefits to digital twins, and countries worldwide are embracing the concept.

Worldwide Adoption of Digital Twins

Digital twin development occurs in nearly every country, as you can see by just a few examples. 

Currently, the National University of Singapore’s Department of the Built Environment is experimenting with 5G-enabled digital twins. Combined with newer ‘smart’ building technology, everything from faster security response times to more efficient sanitation methods are possible.

In Australia, New South Wales recently invested AUD 40 million to build a spatial digital twin for urban planning and development.

The collaborative efforts allow architects and planners to study more than just building designs. They’re able to view the way shadows will fall, how traffic is affected, and much more.

And in the United States, researchers use digital twins to develop energy solutions and reduce CO2 emissions.

However, one of the most impressive endeavors exists in the United Kingdom.

The National Digital Twin programme (NDTp) is a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, along with the University of Cambridge. 

The partnership makes recommendations to the National Infrastructure Commission, working with users to develop an information management system for connecting digital twins.

Through better infrastructure management, supply chains are improved, stronger security, and more effective use of resources is possible.

Quick and Highly Accurate

Creating digital twins is an easy and accurate process when using drones.

Unlike using ground-based camera systems alone, drones move quickly around buildings and other objects without excessive setup.

UAVs soar up the height of even the tallest buildings and access hard-to-reach angles with ease.

With highly accurate positioning systems and high-resolution cameras, you capture all of the details needed for your digital twins.

Better Records

Traditional maintenance records only provide you and your team with a single snapshot in time.

However, digital twins are a living maintenance record, updating and changing in real-time.

You accomplish far more with an exact copy of your facility than if you used only a logbook detailing a few specifics of the site. 

For example, let’s say you’re looking at whether or not your building needs roof repairs.

In your planning meetings, which would you rather see: a few notes in a logbook from a recent inspection, or a detailed, inch-by-inch recreation of the roof’s entire surface area?

Seeing a recreated image would be far more useful, right? Well, with drones, that level of information is entirely possible.


When Michael Grieves gave his presentation in 2002, capturing every inch of a building would have been complicated.

Even five years ago, it took a highly skilled drone pilot to complete the task.

However, advances in artificial intelligence and obstacle avoidance sensors give even the most inexperienced pilots the ability to create digital twins.

Preprogrammed flight modes make it easy to capture all the details you need. With the right equipment, your drone can capture centimeter-level accuracy of a complete building in a matter of minutes or hours.

Without a drone, the process could take days or even weeks.

And, as the saying goes, time is money.

Cost-Effective Solution

Without digital twins, you and your engineering team might need to conduct unnecessary and invasive testing.

The expenses associated with analyzing root cause and conducting predictive maintenance can be challenging to manage. 

Digital twins created with drones allow for improved spatial awareness.

You can now make intelligent recommendations for your building’s future with a proven, cost-effective solution using these tools.

Building Information Modeling

In order to take record-keeping even further, Consortiq developed a solution that couples digital twins with 3D digital asset modeling (DAM).

With DAM, you not only get a full 3D representation of your infrastructure, but also a live representation of all of your assets and maintenance records from any device.

By enabling companies in the energy, telecommunications, and a host of other sectors, to create effective condition-based maintenance and monitoring programs, the service allows for reduced risks and more proactive management of assets. 

“We are able to break down the walls of department ‘silos’ giving each team and technical background a home on a platform that aggregates multiple data formats, and integrates with BIM and Project Management tools for maximum pollination of data that all lives in the digital twin,” Consortiq’s John Gore said. 

“With our managed service, users can see updates from design and construction teams as they make them with live integration with Autodesk, and track defect repair status through Procore integration. This level of data integration takes a standalone BIM and takes it to Level 2 on the ‘Building Information Modeling (BIM) Maturity Scale’, integrating other data types, right there on your model.”

The digital twin technology has been shown to help companies negotiate more favorable insurance agreements, minimize facility downtime, and optimize supply chains.

“The vision has always been to provide something that went beyond simply being impressive – it had to be functional for a wide array of users,” Gore added. 

“We have solved each of the challenges along the way with the end-user at the forefront of our thinking, ensuring that everything we provide is meaningful and functional to people from all technical backgrounds.”

While digital twins represent the “now,” DAM represents the future…a way to bring older building building information into the digital world, and to keep the most accurate records of new builds.

The Takeaways

Though it’s a relatively new method, managing your building assets with digital twins is a proven technology. 

And, with the use of drones for gathering data, the case for real-world applications becomes even stronger. 

Whether you’re looking for remote-accessible management solutions, a more efficient way to monitor maintenance needs, or just want a better way to organize and store your data, digital twins are the solution you’ve been looking for.

And, if you’re a builder or building manager, DAM will take that solution to the next level and beyond.

If you want to learn more about digital twins or digital asset modeling, just complete the form below or send us an email at [email protected].

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

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