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22 March 2022

Digital twin for dummies

The latest industry trend is the digital twin. Many people from the AEC world are asking themselves : what is it really about? Why invest in this sector and what are the benefits? How do you create a digital twin? These are some of the questions that many people in the AEC world are asking.


Digital twinning is not only limited to the AEC. It can be found in many sectors. However, the basic definition of all digital twin applications remains the same: a digital broadcast of a physical object or system.

In the AEC industry, the digital twin appears in the form of a built asset, such as a shopping center and its digital twin.

At the end of the design and construction process, there is an exact digital replica of the entire structure - an identical digital replica of the entire complex, from the structure to the HVAC system to the mechanical and electrical equipment. The real, physical building is represented as a "twin" in a digital, dynamic format.

Unlike a digital model, a digital twin is not static. It is reactive and continues to evolve as new data is fed to it, such as information from artificial intelligence (AI), sensors or the Internet of Things. This means that it can also simulate and predict verified decisions based on actual building conditions.

There are different levels of use in relation to the digital twin.

One digital twin for a project may be more basic with editable data, while another may be a more sophisticated use with enhanced simulations. But the main benefits remain the same.

From the start of a project and throughout the life cycle of an asset, a digital twin continues to live, feed and develop and provides new information for improved return on investment, energy savings, maintenance and performance.

5 levels of digital twin

Each level requires a greater degree of digital maturity and transformation, but also offers increased value to your business.

  1. Descriptive twin
    A living, editable version of design and construction data.
  2. Informative twin 
    Operational and sensory data.
  3. Predictive twin 
    Harnessing operational data to gain insights.
  4. Full twin 
    Simulation for the future simulation scenarios.
  5. Autonomous twin 
    Ability to learn and act on behalf of users.

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