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Save costs and accelerate jobs with Digital Twins

Digital Twins provide a highly accurate, high-resolution 3D model that can help everyone involved in a project save time and costs by providing detailed site information without the need for a site visit.

For project managers and building owners the need to have contractors or consultants visit a site to quote on jobs or make expert recommendations adds both expense and time to a project.

Digital Twins offer the ability to let these third parties not just remotely see a site location in detail,  but use the Digital Twin to take measurements, enable quantity surveying, scope out interior and exterior space layouts and see and understand the materials in place when making recommendations or quoting on jobs.

Beyond construction, Digital Twins have applications in property management and asset management, allowing property managers with distributed portfolios to assess their properties remotely and keep plans and asset registers up to date. 

Torque IP’s Matterport-based Digital Twin system is 99% accurate enabling accurate, as-built, floor plans to be generated and precise measurements taken from the 3D model produced.

Digital Twins are created by using the Matterport system to take a 360-degree scan at multiple locations within the building, capturing high-definition imagery and creating a 3D, walkthrough model of the space. The more locations used the denser is the resulting data. Simple environments such as classrooms or office spaces require fewer sample spots while more complex environments - for example industrial spaces with machinery - will require more samples to produce an accurate model. A simple space can be fully scanned within 10 minutes. For large scale or external spaces drones are used to create a fly-over of the space and point cloud data is used to supply accurate dimensions and elevations. The data from the Digital Twin can be imported into AutoCAD to create 2D scaled drawings.

Torque IP Building Technologies Consultant Mike Yates says creating accurate Digital Twins of a site has proven to be an excellent way of ensuring an up-to-date plan and record of assets and materials exists prior to work commencing on a project..

“With the Ministry of Education’s Ngā iti Kahurangi project, for example, one of the problems we initially faced was turning up to a site only to discover that the records the Ministry had of the site were missing some changes or additions. Using Digital Twins to establish the exact nature of the site, produce floor plans and understand what materials were in use beforehand was a great time and cost saver and allowed contractors to be briefed on the site remotely, before they arrived.”

Yates says that many commercial buildings face similar situations, where alterations over the years were not fully documented and an accurate plan of the internal layouts is not on record. “With a Digital Twin, you can keep your record of a property up to date, and use it to brief people like architects or contractors without adding the expense of initial site visits. Not only can the data be exported to other applications like BIM or CAD software, but you can take measurements directly within the Digital Twin, while having a high resolution view of the spaces concerned so everything from the building materials in use to how the active spaces are laid out can be accounted for by anyone using the Digital Twin to prepare a proposal.”

Accurate measurements can be taken from within the Digital Twin, allowing for jobs like quantity surveying or job quoting to be done without a site visit.

Architect Matt Fleming of Thema Ltd has worked with Torque IP to prepare proposals using Digital Twins. “The Digital Twin lets you see the spaces involved and walk through them as if you were there. For someone like me, doing a site visit to measure up a space and take notes for the purposes of preparing a proposal is an expense. Depending on the complexity of the task, the Digital Twin allows me to do that work from my office and have confidence in the accuracy of the data I’m working with. It’s faster, cheaper and the result is the same.”

Understanding the materials used in a location can be crucial to a consultant's ability to do a job. Wayne Tacon, Ngā iti Kahurangi  programme manager at the Ministry of Education, says that when it came to analysing acoustic performance within a classroom and making recommendations for changes, Digital Twins proved to be both a reliable way of getting acoustic engineers the information they needed and to greatly reduce costs.

“A floor plan doesn’t tell you why a room has poor acoustic performance so normally you’d need someone like an acoustic engineer to do a site visit, which when you're dealing with a nationwide project, gets expensive. But with a Digital Twin, we can have an engineer look at the model, see the materials in the space and within a few minutes come back with an assessment of what’s wrong and what the solution should be. It’s been an effective way of reducing costs.”

For asbestos management specialists SQN, Digital Twins have proven a fantastic tool for quoting on work, says Finance and Business Manager Heather Obruchkov. “Being able to walk through the buildings, see where access hatches are available and measure the floor-to-ceiling height have been game changers. Having this information at the quoting stage means we can determine what access equipment is needed and make allowances for any additional equipment. During the report reviewing stage, we also use the Digital Twin to confirm if the identified materials are quantified correctly and if the materials are identified in the correct locations.”

Contractors can be familiarised with work sites prior to arriving, with notes added to the Digital Twin to highlight things like access points or services.

Rex McGill, Project Manager at carpet installation and building refurbishment specialists. QHL says the Digital Twins have proven invaluable when managing multiple sites. “The Matterport system is a real timesaver for both job quoting and management. Just being able to go back into a project to check on small details or explain to installation staff room layouts or specific items that are out of the norm, before they arrive at site, is invaluable. The measuring tool is extremely helpful. I have found it accurate to the on-site measurements which means if a measurement is missed, I can be confident of the result when I take the measurement within the Digital Twin. In some cases, it has meant not losing a day to return to a site, especially important on projects that are well off the beaten track. I can just do it from my desk.”

For Bill Anniss of networking and cabling specialists Datacomms Plus, Digital Twins have proven their value in pre-planning a project. “We’ve been able to familiarise ourselves with the site beforehand, checking things like allocated storage, parking and access to buildings. It’s been a huge benefit and a real game changer for planning.”

Whether it’s to streamline quoting, brief project teams or maintain an accurate record of a building portfolio, Digital Twins offer a high-value for money solution to what have traditionally been time-consuming and expensive tasks.

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