The (im) possibilities of BIM, part 2.  The digital twin.

The (im) possibilities of BIM, part 2. 
The digital twin.

The BIM protocol is a good way to get early involvement of stakeholders in the reconciliation process of a project. The digital twin, or model of a building, is an extremely useful tool when extracting information suited for visualisation. This is applicable currently, during times of COVID-19, where digital and online communications have taken flight, and site visits can be restricted or limited due to health and safety reasons. A 3D virtual model can act as a strong tool for visualisation purposes, creating a somewhat digital site visit or spot check, providing valuable insights.

During the initial phase in a project, the digital twin model in early stages of level of detail can be of great added value in talks between owner, user and authorities. Visual and environmental impacts can be evaluated even before the first hurdles are met in physical implementation stages. Object clashes, or any other physical or spacing problems can be detected even before construction processes have started.

Additionally, a digital model is able to provide collaborative contractors with an insight into where their responsibilities end, and that of another party starts. This makes discussions about the project scope, dependencies, and overlaps very concrete, without having boots on the ground at the physical site.

Once global designs have been approved, it allows for immediate execution of following steps. Here the focus lies on the type of use, necessary facilities and furthermore meeting sustainability goals. With the use of different scenario’s the future user is able to familiarise with their future  building. Here the client will materialise their specific wants and needs for daily use, with the help of specialists. Knowledge of state-of-the-art construction methods, materials and technical installations, as well as practical feedback are of great importance here. The contractor or a specialist in the field of construction will have to think out loud with the client.

During this communicative process, vast amounts of information will be generated which needs to be recorded through means of BIM. Usually it is the architect that records the majority of decided information, but there is a role for the client or the user as well.

Ultimately, the digital twin will be the single centralised point where all information and documents are stored, accessible and collaborative for all parties.

As soon as all the questions with respect to future use are answered and translated in concepts within the model this phase will be completed.  The digital twin will enter the next chapter in the journey.