Engineering data, schedules, enterprise data, control and sensor data, GIS (geographic information systems), LiDAR: There is a veritable data tsunami that is happening in businesses these days, and construction and engineering companies are now tasked with harnessing all this data, which comes at the same time as the new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Enter digital twins, which are able to not only reign in the data, but will also enable contractors and engineers to make better and faster decisions. Let’s explore.

Launched in May 2020, the Digital Twin Consortium is a global ecosystem comprising of industry, government, and academia, and was founded to accelerate the development, adoption, interoperability, and security of digital twins and enabling technologies. The Digital Twin Consortium has three primary objectives:

  1. Influence the direction of the digital twin industry
  2. improve interoperability of digital twin technologies, and
  3. influence the requirements for digital twin standards.

One of the founding members of the Digital Twin Consortium, Bentley Systems, worked hand-in-hand with the members of the consortium to define digital twin. Adam Klatzkin, vice president of iTwin Platform, Bentley Systems, says, “The short version is it’s a digital and dynamic representation of a physical asset, in context to the real world around it. The keyword, dynamic. That’s what distinguishes it from traditional static models like BIM (building information modeling). The twin is living and changing, and it’s continuously synchronized along with the physical asset.”

I recently sat down with Klatzkin and Sheena Gaynes, director of business development, partnership programs for the iTwin Platform, Bentley Systems, on The Peggy Smedley Show, to talk all about digital twins.

With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now underway, all eyes are now on infrastructure—and this trend extends far beyond the states. Klatzkin says there is a global drive to not only build better infrastructure, but to build infrastructure better—and goes even further to say there’s a drive to operate infrastructure better as well.

This is where the data comes into play. Data can help ensure assets are efficient, sustainable, productive, and safe. In fact, roughly 40% of the CEOs at engineering firms expect that within the next three years their clients are going to require them to deliver a digital twin and simulation results together with physical assets, according to Klatzkin. Gaynes points to a specific example of an oil and gas company that is using AI (artificial intelligence) to predict and manage realtime worker activities in terms of health and safety conditions at industrial sites.

She says, “They can perform 3D and 4D predictive analytics around incidents using AI, and they can generate actionable data to help keep workers safe. And, of course, the iTwin Platform allows for instant web accessibility, synchronization, visualization, and combining the 3D and 4D engineering data with AI powered HSE data, and IoT data.”

Bentley Systems’ iTwin Platform is an open-cloud platform to enable digital twin applications across the infrastructure lifecycle. It provides APIs (application programming interfaces) and services to help developers create digital twin applications for project teams and owner-operators to create, visualize, and analyze digital twins of infrastructure assets.

Klatzkin says there are three key differences between the iTwin Platform and other digital twin technologies. One, the iTwin Platform is purpose built. Two, it is open. Three, there is 4D. While there are more differences than that, those are the three big ones.

Together with a growing ecosystem of partners that includes software vendors, system integrators, engineering firms, academia, and more, Bentley Systems has developed big partnerships with the likes of NVIDIA Omniverse and Microsoft HoloLens to ensure contractors and engineers can experience iTwin through those technologies in the scenarios that make sense. Gaynes says, “Our goal is to build out an ecosystem of innovation, and we do this through a variety of ways, one being our iTwin Platform journey, which we’re helping guide organizations and helping them with their development efforts.”

She adds there are many Bentley products that are powered by the iTwin Platform, with one specific example being the SYNCHRO solution, which is focused on providing infrastructure and construction management—all in one place—where contractors and engineers can plan and manage people, materials, and equipment more easily and affordably.

In January, Bentley Systems will kick off a MOMENTUM series where the industry will be able to hear five use cases and actually see demos. Every quarter there will be innovators sharing inspirational stories. Interested companies can find more information at developer.bentley.com.

At the end of the day, it is all about data and leveraging it in the best way possible. “Digital twins have really emerged as the preferred way to ensure that the right people have the right data at the right time in order to make better and faster decisions,” says Klatzkin.

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