The Digital Thread and Digital Twin
August 01, 2020
Capital project completion has traditionally focused on the successful handover of the project being built by the contractor to the owner. But with the emergence of the digital thread and digital twin, another layer of project realism has been added to the entire handover process. Although these digital tools are relatively new to the construction industry, there is a growing appreciation and acceptance for the value the digital thread and digital twin bring to CAPEX projects and the view into your projects that they can provide. Let’s take a brief look at exactly what these tools are and the promise they bring to us.
What are Digital Threads and Digital Twins?
Simply put, the digital thread represents the work the contractor is executing, and the digital twin really pertains to the owner organization. While owners are interested in the progress and state of a contractor’s work, ultimately, owners are laser-focused on the asset.
The digital thread is a virtual representation of the work being done during construction of the asset. It allows a connected data flow of the asset’s information from creation to completion across traditionally siloed teams, providing a timeline of executed work. A digital thread is the intersection of information pertaining to work expended, and can include schedules, cost estimates, daily execution plans, materials installed, etc.
The digital twin is a permanent digital replica and record of the physical asset. It encapsulates the asset and is a snapshot of the deliverables being handed over by the EPC or contractor to the owner. It is constantly enriched during the execution of the actual work. Combined, these provide more insight into the serviceability of the asset during its operational lifespan and enable a more proactive approach to supporting and extending this lifespan.
Both the digital thread and digital twin are achieved by what we call knowledge or project data. It works like this. A 3D model of a project depicts the physical dimensions of the asset being built. Imagine adding additional attributes (the project data) to the basic physical attributes in a 3D model such as installation activities, who carried out the work, quantities installed, risks identified, issues encountered during installation, and time at which the installation was conducted. These attributes can be grouped into “work” and “deliverables.” The work attributes belong to the digital thread; the deliverable attributes belong to the digital twin.
Together, the digital thread and digital twin capture the information during the project life cycle, thus allowing that information to be analyzed and leveraged. This represents a giant leap forward in the knowledge management process. The benefit of recording both the work executed (digital thread) and the asset being delivered (digital twin) is rapidly gaining the attention of owner organizations. In fact, some owners are now assigning monetary value to the asset itself when these digital assets are present.
Having both a digital thread and digital twin associated with the project delivers another layer of project realism that seems long overdue. By employing the right software for your needs, this can be achieved for your current projects and those well into the future. To find out more, schedule an InEight demo today.