Continuing a series of live discussions on the latest industry trends and the challenges they bring, AMC Bridge conducted its third webinar on October 21, 2021, involving experts with practical experience and different perspectives on digital twins. The panel of industry experts, moderated by Jim Brown, Founder and President of Tech-Clarity was comprised of, Igor Tsinman, Co-founder and President of AMC Bridge, Marzia Bolpagni, UK BIM Alliance Ambassador, Rick Dunlap, Technical Services Vice President of BrandSafway, David Craig Weir-McCall, Business Development Manager of Unreal Engine Enterprise of Epic Games, Jim Quanci, Senior Director of ADN partnerships of Autodesk. This dynamic group of industry leaders gathered to discuss the current state of the digital twin utilization, technology and process gaps companies face, and best practices that can be applied when developing a digital twin strategy.
The highlights below showcase the main points of the discussion and an overview of the poll results. The full recording of the event is available at the following link.
To compare experts’ and audience’s opinions and unveil the status of achieving digital twin objectives, two polls were held during the webinar.
What do companies really want from a digital twin?
Digital twins have become an ultimate technology goal of many companies in manufacturing, engineering and construction, but when asked what they expect from their digital twins – the answers vary. One thing the panelists all agreed on, is that the critical first step is to determine what you expect to achieve with your digital twin – clearly define the goal. For many stakeholders the objective is to manage their connected infrastructure and assets efficiently and cost-effectively. They want their digital twin to help them predict performance and anticipate failures and thereby save them time and money. However, in most industries the concepts of a digital twin is in its infancy.
“Digital twin is such a POC [proof of concept] at the moment. People are still trying to fully understand what the value is. Sometimes describing the function of a digital twin helps people understand where they can extract value from it,” emphasized David Craig Weir-McCall.
That’s why the phrase “digital twin” can cause so much confusion. For some, it is a guide, helping them to extract the greatest value from their digital assets and helps them to define their connected systems, modeling scenarios and identifying issues before they happen. For others it sets off alarms and triggers concerns about system connectivity, data exchange, expensive implementations and delivery delays. These can all be avoided by setting reasonable and achievable objectives for the digital twin.
What are the requirements for an effective digital twin?
For the success of the project, it is crucial to clearly identify the requirements that will enable the adoption of a practical and meaningful digital twin. The implementation of an effective digital twin typically starts with reliable access to data. That however, is just the start. With access to the appropriate data from digital assets as well as physical assets, it is possible to simulate, predict and observe the impact of changes to the overall system or design. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of what is needed to manage, process, integrate, store and protect the data that enables your digital twin. This must be part of the overall digital twin plan and should be considered early in the process. Predicting performance based on digital assets and developing insights into operations of physical assets are two key values stakeholders are looking for to achieve with the adoption of digital twin concepts.
Reflecting on the experience of AMC Bridge, Igor Tsinman adds: “Very often, requests for digital twin projects start with visualization. But the important point is to be able to combine at least two or three streams of data and present a more enhanced, not necessarily complete, picture of a physical asset in a way that allows you to understand the model, not just to see it. While, the need for accurate visualization is frequently the starting point, incorporating multiple data streams enable the user to present a more complete picture of what is going on in the physical world.”
Where are companies today with implementing a digital thread?
The current state of adoption of digital twin concepts varies greatly within each industry, region and company. Many companies are simply at the exploration stage, where they can see a benefit of utilizing digital twin concepts but are hesitant to start due to perceived cost and fear of implementation headaches. Industries such as manufacturing, or AEC also vary significantly with respect to how and when to utilize digital twins. Some manufacturing companies use the idea of the digital twin to simulate and predict production output, while others use them to validate design choices and system performance. By contrast, the AEC industry often relies on digital twins to simulate and predict the various aspects of construction and even longer-term issues of facility management.
One of the biggest disconnects is the idea that the reason for digital twins is to identify a common approach and follow it. The fact is, digital twin adoption is as variable and individual as each company and the products they produce. There is no single solution that does everything that everyone wants from a digital twin. That’s why the plan is so critical.
Rick Dunlap, VP of Technical Services for BrandSafway advises, “When you play a game, you need to have a playbook and the same is true with digital twins. You playbook should be full of foundational items related to the digital twin, for example, BIM, LIM, IoT, etc. Connect them to your business case initially and build energy from that. That’s been my approach, and I hope it will work for you if you get started.”
What do the polls say?
The results of the two polls conducted during the webinar showed that experts’ and audience’s viewpoints are closely connected.
The results of the first poll illustrated that the companies are still on their way to understanding and realizing the true value of a digital twin. Specifically, around 15% of the audience is very or somewhat mature in their efforts to leverage and benefit from digital twins. Around 30% of the responses indicate that they are still developing plans or investigating the needs for digital transformation. Finally, 14% of the respondents said that they have no digital twin related activities currently planned.
The second poll was intended to clarify how well companies understand what is needed to achieve digital twin objectives. The survey showed that 50% of respondents indicate that their company has either a common or multiple complementary viewpoints regarding their digital twin objectives. Conversely, 50% of respondents indicate that their companies are in the very early stages of digital twin adoption and have not yet converged on a plan or desired objective for their digital twin adoption.
For more information on how AMC Bridge enables companies in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries to implement and leverage digital twins, visit our website, in particular check out the News, Case Studies, and Labs sections.
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About AMC Bridge
With 20+ years of experience and unmatched industry expertise, AMC Bridge enables digital transformation for clients in the engineering, manufacturing, and AEC industries. We do it by creating custom software solutions that eliminate data silos, connect complex applications, unlock and promote internal innovation, and democratize cutting-edge technologies.