Home » Digital Transformation Insights: Is Digital Twin the Same as BIM?
Simple, powerful smart technology solutions make digital transformation more attainable than ever. As these solutions arise, it is a common misconception that digital twins and building information modelling (BIM) are one and the same. To find out which of these solutions is the best digital transformation tool for your operations and which is best suited to your aspirations, it is important to understand the distinction. Read on for definitions, distinctions, and more helpful information on BIM and digital twins.
What is a digital twin?
A digital twin is a digital replica of physical processes, systems, or products. Data on the physical object is collected in real time to create an accurate duplicate of the real-life subject. Experimental scenarios can then be applied to the duplicate to assess their effect. With no risk to real-life operations, this is a highly-effective strategic tool across a range of applications and industries.
What is BIM?
BIM software creates a 3D model focused on the design and construction of a building. The creation of a central model, with the collection of data throughout the lifecycle of a project, creates a collaborative space in which role-players can store, share, and manage information. This allows stakeholders such as architects, engineers, builders, and local authorities to assess the impact of materials, design, manufacturing, and finish on elements such as cost, project speed and economy, and environmental impact.
These models are created closely around plans, designs, drawings, and construction details. The architectural, design, and construction team then use this model to pre-empt issues that may be encountered in the construction phase and resolve them in a digital realm prior to breaking ground.
Digital twins and BIM are digital replicas of physical entities. It is upon this premise that the two solutions have been confused as one. The difference between BIM and digital twin is to be found in the application of these technologies. BIM is used during the design and construction phase – for the duration of a construction project’s lifecycle. Digital twins, on the other hand, are better suited to maintenance and operations within a smart building environment.
That said, there are many overlapping definitions of the two technologies – and many shared benefits; for example, increased visibility, improved and meaningful collaboration, and the strategic advantage of making and testing virtual adjustments based on data before implementing any real-life changes.
Ultimately, the distinction lies in the fact that BIM addresses the functionality and appearance of the building itself, whereas digital twin impacts the processes, assets, systems, and the inter-relationship between these, people, and the built environment. While BIM looks to the functions and physical features of a building, digital twins are better aligned to ever-fluctuating activities of people, processes, and systems and the interplay between these within the building.
The benefits of digital twins
Remote Monitoring of Subjects, Operations, and Supply Chains
What can be monitored can be more effectively managed, and an eye on whole-operations data and its individual elements holds tremendous potential for strategic advantage. This monitoring takes place remotely and from anywhere for multi-location capabilities. As a result, optimal performance is promoted through real-time identification of issues and considered improvements for maximum effect. This gives realistic insights into operations and takes significant steps in future-proofing for competitiveness and digital change.
The Integration of AI and Machine Learning
If increased and improved automation is to be a hallmark of the future, digital twins’ ability to automate workflows is an important cog in the wheel of progress for businesses and industries of the future.
Strategic Planning Without The Risk
The creation of a digital duplicate creates a realistic test subject upon which to test different variables virtually – with no risk or impact on existing operations. By adjusting different metrics and factors and assessing the effect, this stands to be an enormously powerful strategic tool. This is especially useful in uncertain, changing, and challenging times for businesses and industries.
One of the many benefits of real-time asset monitoring is the ability to pick up on changes and predict their effects digitally. This promotes immediate actionability, which can avert costly operational downtime, supply chain disruptions, unmet obligations, and reputational damage.
Digital twins are a potent management tool. With data transmitted over a secure network, digital twins can be securely shared with linked stakeholders. This encourages greater collaboration within buildings, businesses, and organisations.
Easily-Identified Sustainable Adjustments
Real-time data monitoring and digital twins create myriad opportunities for sustainable, environmentally-conscientious change. For example, minimising waste means better resource usage. Accurate data insights also mean energy consumption can be tailored towards meeting attainable sustainable goals. Digital twins also reduce risk around the move to renewable energy sources and measurable ROI.
Streamlined Smart Asset Management
By better understanding the exact data around assets, your team is best placed to ensure you are getting the most out of key equipment. Data twins allow you to fine-tune the daily realities of your operations around your assets, leaving less to chance. It also gives you the means to create ideal maintenance schedules to ensure the smooth running, safety, and efficiency of equipment throughout its lifetime.
Smarter Supply Chains
Full end-to-end supply chain visibility, with accurate, real-time data insights, means the potential for reduced supply chain disruptions, improved predictability, reduced risk, and optimised delivery.
A smarter start to digital transformation
Smarter Technologies Group provides cost-effective smart technology solutions, with digital twin capabilities, using Orion, The Real-Time Data Network™. These can be tailored across a range of assets, processes, applications, and industries to support your digital transformation objectives.
About the author
Matthew Margetts is a Director at Smarter Technologies. His background includes working for blue-chip companies such as AppNexus, AOL/ Verizon, and Microsoft in the UK, Far East and Australia.
About Smarter Technologies
Smarter Technologies tracks, monitors and recovers assets across the globe in real time, providing asset tracking systems to the open market and fulfilling the world’s most complex asset tracking requirements. Our services cover a vast array of business sectors, products and equipment from container or pallet tracking to military-grade devices; and can be used across a broad spectrum of industries.
As a leading IoT company, we also provide smart building solutions for modern businesses, offering wire-free, battery-powered and low-cost IoT smart sensor technology. Our solutions will put an end to scheduled maintenance and help businesses utilise their building’s efficiency, benefitting from real-time alerts and facilities management tools that will bring them into the 21st century.