Benefits of Using Digital Twins for Construction

Technologies like augmented reality in construction are emerging to digitalize the construction industry, making it significantly more effective.

What if we could have instant access to all the information about a construction site, down to smallest details about every person, tool, and bolt? What if we could always be sure about the final measurements of a beam or that soil volumes in the cuts are close to those of the fills? What if we could always track how fast the supply of materials runs out, and re-order supplies automatically?

All this is achievable with a digital twin — a concept of having a real-time digital representation of a physical object.

The following are some real-time digital twins applications on construction sites.

3d-model

Automated Progress Monitoring

Progress monitoring verifies that the completed work is consistent with plans and specifications. A physical site observation is needed in order to verify the reported percentage of work done and determine the stage of the project.

By reconstructing an as-built state of a building or structure we can compare it with an as-planned execution in BIM and take corresponding actions to correct any deviations. This is usually done by reconstructing geometry of a building and registering it to the model coordinate systems, which is later compared to an as-planned model on a shape and object level.

Often data for progress monitoring is collected through the field personnel and can be hugely subjective. For example, the reported percentage of work done can be faster in the beginning and much slower close to the end of the project. People are often initially more optimistic about their progress and the time needed to finish the job.

Hence, having automated means of data collection and comparison means that the resulting model to as-designed BIM models is less liable to human error. Digital twins solve the common construction process problems.

As-Built vs As-Designed Models

With a real-time digital twins, it is possible to track changes in an as-built model — daily and hourly. Early detection of any discrepancies can lead to a detailed analysis of historical modeling data, which adds an additional layer of information for any further decision-making processes.

The project manager can then reconstruct the steps that led to the error and make changes in the future work schedule in order to prevent any similar mistakes from occurring. They can also detect under-performers and try to fix the cause of the problem earlier in the project or plan the necessary changes to the budget and timescale of the whole project.

Resource Planning and Logistics

According to the Construction Industry Institute, about 25% of productive time is wasted on unnecessary movement and handling of materials.

Digital twin technology provides automatic resource allocation monitoring and waste tracking, allowing for a predictive and lean approach to resource management. With digital twin technology companies would avoid over-allocation and dynamically predict resource requirements on construction sites, thus avoiding the need to move resources over long distances and improving time management.

Safety Monitoring

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous sectors in the world. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States, more than four thousand construction workers died on-site between 2008 and 2012.

The real-time site reconstruction feature digital twins allows the industry’s companies to track people and hazardous places on a site, so as to prevent inappropriate behavior, usage of unsafe materials, and activity in hazardous zones. A company can develop a system of early notification, letting a construction manager know when a field worker is located in dangerous proximity to working equipment and sending a notification about nearby danger to a worker’s wearable device.

Microsoft recently shared a great vision of how AI combined with video cameras and mobile devices can be used to build an extensive safety net for the workplace.

Quality Assessment

Image-processing algorithms make it possible to check the condition of concrete through a video or photographic image. It is also possible to check for cracks on columns or any material displacement at a construction site. This would trigger additional inspections and thus help to detect possible problems early on.

See an example of how 2D images using 3D scene reconstruction can be used for concrete crack assessments.

Optimization of Equipment Usage

Equipment utilization is an important metric that construction firms always want to maximize. Unused machines should be released earlier to the pool so others can use them on other sites where they are needed. With advanced imaging and automatic tracking, it is possible to know how many times each piece of machinery has been used, at what part of the construction site, and on what type of the job.

Monitoring and Tracking of Workers

Some countries impose tough regulations on how to monitor people presence on a construction site. This includes having a digital record of all personnel and their location within the site, so that this information could be used by rescue teams in case of emergency. This monitoring is another digital twins application. Still, it is better to integrate digital twin-based monitoring with an automatic entry and exit registration system, to have a multi-modal data fused into a single analytics system.

Getting Data for Digital Twins

Some ways to gather data to be used for digital twins includes the following:

  1. Smartphone Cameras
  2. Time-Lapse Cameras
  3. Autonomous UAV and Robots
  4. Video Surveillance Cameras
  5. Head-mounted Cameras and Body Cameras

Image data processing algorithms for digital twins can be created with the following methods:

  1. 3D Reconstruction: Conventional Photogrammetry
  2. 3D Reconstruction: Structure from Motion
  3. Object Detection and Recognition
  4. Localization
  5. Object Tracking

(Source: https://www.intellectsoft.net/blog/advanced-imaging-algorithms-for-digital-twin-reconstruction)

From an Investor’s Viewpoint

On projects to date, this approach has proven to save time, reduce waste and increase efficiencies.

From a Standardization Proponent’s Viewpoint

Open, sharable information unlocks more efficient, transparent and collaborative ways of working throughout the entire life-cycle of buildings and infrastructure.

From a Solution Provider’s Viewpoint 

While the digital twin is needed initially for planning and construction, it’s also intended to provide the basis for building operations moving forward.

(Source: https://www.siemens.com/customer-magazine/en/home/buildings/three-perspectives-on-digital-twins.html)

The vision of “construction 4.0” refers to the 4th industrial revolution and is a fundamental challenge for the construction industry. In terms of automated production and level of digitalization, the construction industry is still significantly behind other industries. Nevertheless, the mega-trends like Big Data or the Internet of Things offer great opportunities for the future development of the construction sector. Prerequisite for the successful Construction 4.0 is the creation of a digital twin of a building. Building Information Modeling (BIM) with a consistent and structured data management is the key to generate such a digital building whose dynamic performance can be studied by building simulation tools for a variety of different boundary conditions.

Along the total life cycle from design to construction, operation and maintenance towards remodeling or demolition, the digital twin follows all modifications of the real building and dynamically readjusts itself in case of recorded performance differences.

Thus, for the whole life span of the real building, performance predictions generated with the virtual twin represent an accurate basis for well-informed decisions. This helps to develop cost-effective operation modes, e.g. by introducing new cyber-controlled HVAC systems. The digital twin may also analyze the building’s dynamic response to changes in occupation or energy supply; it also indicates the need for building maintenance or upgrades.

The digital twin follows all modifications of the real building and dynamically readjusts itself in case of recorded performance differences.

(Source: https://www.bau.fraunhofer.de/en/fieldsofresearch/smartbuilding/digital-twin.html)

Gartner-digital-twin-best-practices-to-tackle-challenges

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Drone Technology

Drone-Technology-02Drones—also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aerial systems (UAS)—are most simply described as flying devices that do not carry a human pilot. They can be remotely piloted or they can pilot themselves based on pre-programmed instructions. They can be equipped with GPS, on board computers, hardware, electronics, sensors, stabilizers, auto-pilots, servo controllers, and any other equipment the user desires to install. Drones can resemble fixed-wing airplanes but more commonly take the form of quad-copters, that is, rotor-wing aircraft that can take off and land vertically. Most people know that drones can be equipped with infra-red cameras (still and video), license-plate readers, “ladar” (laser radar that generate three-dimensional images and can be seen through trees and foliage), thermal-imaging devices, or even sensors that gather data about weather, temperature, radiation or other environmental conditions. All of this can be used to generate images, recordings or data that design professionals eventually will want to use in their business.

Drones could be a valuable tool in construction, widening the spectrum of what’s possible in architecture, according to architect Ammar Mirjan.

“We can fly [drones] through and around existing objects, which a person couldn’t do or a crane couldn’t do,” explains Mirjan. They can be programmed to weave simple tensile structures in the air, for example.

Sources & References:

https://www.dezeen.com/2017/05/04/mark-dytham-interview-drones-uavs-bring-profound-change-architecture-cities/

http://www.theaiatrust.com/architects-guide-using-drones/

https://www.dezeen.com/2018/05/25/10-ways-drones-will-change-the-world/

How are aerial mapping drones helping architects?

Architects are exploring the many benefits of mapping drones for improving and expanding their businesses. Here are just a few examples:

The most popular application for small drones is aerial photography and video capture to track and share “before and after” progress over time.

Ability to securely collaborate on specific areas of interest with your team, contractors, and customers.

Tell the story of your project.  Show current and potential customers before and after fly-throughs of your job site so they can experience and appreciate the scale and impact of your work.

3-D point clouds with centimeter grade accuracy on progress, so you can get the precision updates you need to keep project approvals on time, without physically traveling to the site.

Get context for your project, plan your architecture with a full view of the surrounding area.

See 3D volumetrics so you know what you’re building on and can track progress.

Uses for Drones

  • Project documentation
  • Presentation + marketing
  • Architectural cinematography
  • Site analysis
  • Topographic mapping
  • Construction observation
  • Educational tool
  • Lead generation (working with Realtors)

Conclusion

According to an interview in Dezeen.com with Mark Dytham, architect and co-founder of Tokyo-based Klein Dytham Architecture, “Drones will transform the way buildings are designed, the way they look and the way they are used.

One way in which drones are proving to be a useful tool in architecture is through surveying. Due to their small size and relative ease of maneuverability, drones make an easy task of accessing difficult to reach places.

According to ArchDaily.com, “While using satellite imagery for site planning is common among architects, these visuals are often available in low resolution and produce less accurate data. Data collected by drones can completely eliminate the need for hiring land surveyors for creating topographic surveys. Instead, architects can use this information to build accurate 3D models of the terrain and site and import them directly into drafting and modeling software like Rhino.” In the past, architects would have relied on planes, helicopters, or satellite imaging for aerial footage.

Sources & References:

https://www.identifiedtech.com/blog/construction-drones/how-aerial-mapping-drones-can-help-architects/

http://residencestyle.com/the-use-of-drones-in-architecture-soars-to-new-heights/

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Big Data in Architecture

Big-Data-02Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. But it’s not the amount of data that’s important. It’s what organizations do with the data that matters. Big data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.

(Source: https://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/big-data/what-is-big-data.html)

In buildings, data might be generated by a very wide variety of sources, including:

  • Design and construction (for example building information modeling)
  • Post occupancy evaluation
  • Utilities, building services, meters, building management systems and so on
  • Infrastructure and transport systems
  • Enterprise systems such as purchasing systems, performance reporting, work
    scheduling and so on
  • Maintenance and replacement systems
  • Operational cost monitoring
  • Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems and equipment

Data from these sources can be used to understand behavior, assess
performance, improve market competitiveness, allocate resources and so on.
Smart buildings focus on the use of these interconnected technologies to make
buildings more intelligent and responsive, ultimately improving their performance, and
might include technologies such as:

  • Automated systems
  • Intelligent building management systems
  • Energy efficiency measures
  • Wireless technologies
  • Digital infrastructures
  • Adaptive energy systems
  • Networked appliances
  • Data gathering devices
  • Information and communications networks
  • Assistive technologies
  • Remote monitoring
  • Fault diagnostics and prognostics

(Source:https://medium.com/studiotmd/designing-with-data-8fd73345afb8)

Big-Data-01{Repost} How Big Data is Transforming Architecture

The phenomenon presents huge opportunities for the built environment and the firms that design it.

Clients are demanding data from architects

Clients are starting to ask architects to deliver more than just drawing sets. They are eyeing the data-rich BIM models that firms use to document projects as a way to supply data for downstream applications, such as facilities management.

With BIM achieving some level of maturity within the industry, there is a growing expectation that architects will produce datasets, such as the COBie (Construction-Operations Building Information Exchange) spreadsheet, as part of their regular deliverables. The COBie spreadsheet is essentially a list of building assets—such as chairs and HVAC systems—that the owner can then use to manage the facility. Next year, the U.K. government will require architects working on any publicly funded project to produce COBie spreadsheets. For architects, this means that their data needs to be as rigorous as their drawings.

Clients are demanding data from buildings

Clients have also become interested in the data generated by the buildings. As previously mentioned, everything from thermostats to doors is being connected to the Internet so it can broadcast its use. At last year’s Venice Biennale, the exhibition’s director Rem Koolhaas, Hon. FAIA, predicted that “every architectural element is about to associate itself with data-driven technology.”

This data enables building owners to measure and improve their facilities’ performance quantitatively. Many are already doing this—albeit in a limited sense—with their HVAC systems. But what we are seeing from innovative building owners is the use of data to conduct a holistic assessment of their performance. The Walt Disney Co., for example, combines location tracking with sales data and other user-experience metrics to optimize the performance of its parks. As more owners come to rely on building data to improve the performance of their assets, architects need to ensure that their buildings can supply this critical data.

Data is changing the process as much as it is changes the output

The abundance of data may give rise to data warehouses and COBie spreadsheets, but the much more profound changes for architects will be procedural. For instance, using BIM to design and document a building has required a whole new set of business processes. The building might be visually similar to what would have been designed in the past, but everything behind the scenes, from contract wording to staff training, needs to be rethought.

(Source: http://www.architectmagazine.com/technology/how-big-data-is-transforming-architecture_o)

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook