BIM and Digital Twins

Digital twins occupy a central place in the process of managing the life cycle of a space or building just like BIM – which we’ve addressed in previous article. Although distinct, they are intimately related concepts. 


What’s a Digital Twin? 


A Digital Twin is a virtual model of a physical entity, built using digital, computational, and informational tools and technologies. The Digital Twin replicates its physical counterpart and can even interact and remotely control it, gathering various benefits from this bidirectional relationship. 

Although its origin as a concept traces back to the beginning of the century, particularly in the context of product life cycle management, its applicability is now becoming increasingly widespread and relevant due to technological innovations in computing and communication devices. 

Today we can find Digital Twins in several areas such as industrial design, urbanism (particularly under the scope of Smart Cities, sustainability and the emerging IoT – Internet of Things) and, what is most relevant to us, in construction. In the latter, a Digital Twin sets itself as a virtual model of the space or building, built or planned,1 with which it establishes relationships and informational exchanges. 


What are the benefits of a Digital Twin in construction? 


The use of a Digital Twin – considered in its broadest definition – has several benefits that can be used in the various stages of the life of a space or building – namely design, construction and operation stages. 


1. In the design stage, a Digital Twin can be used to depict a space or building and to facilitate and streamline collaboration between project stakeholders who will work in the same model, extracting and cross-referencing the required information to ensure the correct documentation and compatibility of the various projects; and to predict and simulate the behaviour of those spaces and buildings, for example, from a structural and energy point of view, aiding the decision-making process.

Fig. 1: Clash Detection example supporting interdisciplinary coordination


2. During execution, Digital Twin can be used as a visualization instrumentenabling the overlap of the virtual model over the construction site (using Augmented Reality), as well as a tool for analysisenabling the extraction of diverse information from the model such as materials and processes to be used, informing and assisting the construction works.

Digital Twins
Fig. 2: Augmented Reality application showcasing a Digital Twin over the construction (Source: vGIS)


3. After construction, it iduring the operation stage that the Digital Twin reveals its full potential by working together with its Physical Twin, allowing two-way exchanges of information. By using building automation, the Physical Twin can be operated and modified remotely; reverselyby using sensors and IoT, the Digital Twin can be remotely monitored and display, in real-time, changes happening in the Physical Twin (anticipating failures, facilitating maintenance, or simply providing data about the occupation and performance of the space or building).In this sense, the Digital Twin is a continuously open and ever-changing process.

Gémeos Digitais
Fig. 3: Realtime monitoring of several buildings energetic performance (Source: AEC Magazine)


Our goal


The ongoing adoption and implementation of the BIM paradigm at Castro Group will act as a solid foundation so that Digital Twin solutions can be created for the buildings and spaces we build.

This paradigm allows us to continue adding value throughout all stages of the construction process, from design to operation, with clear benefits for the end customer, who may rely on a digital model capable of maximizing and monetizing their investment by reducing operational costs, identifying issues early on, and aiding in their resolution, assisting on scheduling maintenance plans and collecting useful information on the space’s occupation and utilization to inform day-to-day management as well as future transformations.


(1) In a broader view the concept of Digital Twin can be applied during the design and construction phases and not only when the space or building is effectively built and a full relationship with the digital correspondent is established. 

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