The utopia of the digital twin

In connection with BIM, the contributions often speak of the digital twin. The digital twin is the ideal state we want to achieve. In detail, I could write a whole book about the current technological digital state. For me, however, my article is only about the fundamental question of whether the digital twin is currently still utopia or already lived reality.

I’ll start my post with a quote from Wikipedia: A digital twin is a virtual representation that serves as the real-time digital counterpart of a physical object or process. Digital twins are the result of continual improvement in the creation of product design and engineering activities. Product drawings and engineering specifications progressed from handmade drafting to computer aided drafting/computer aided design to model-based systems engineering. The digital twin of a physical object is dependent on the digital thread—the lowest level design and specification for a digital twin—and the „twin“ is dependent on the digital thread to maintain accuracy. Changes to product design are implemented using engineering change orders. An engineering change order made to a component item will result in a new version of the items digital thread, and correspondingly to the digital twin.

In the real world, buildings, structures, and infrastructures have long been developed, planned, created, used and in the end, depending on the epoch, abandoned, left to decay, destroyed, demolished, reprocessed, or disposed of. With the beginning of digitization, we have gradually begun to use computers and software in all phases. Everyone has tried to design their workplace and environment in such a way that as many processes and tasks as possible are digitally supported. The results were printed out and sent by post or filed in files. In the next step, we developed the first alternatives to paper and asked our predecessors in the process chain whether they could give us data in digital form. Our successors in the process chain have also asked us for digital data. and so on. Some of them still know this procedure. Most of you have also witnessed the further development live. In order not to extend my text unnecessarily, I now jump into the present.

In the current Digitalization 4.0, we are working in a digitally networked world. The performance of current computer systems, the possibilities in the cloud and in modern software development offer us the opportunity to realize the digital twin in the construction industry. Utopia can become reality. Many of you would now prefer to hear from me the phrase „Utopia has become reality“. But if you read the article from Wikipedia, you must ask yourself whether we have already achieved the goal. Many of you have made your own workplace even more digital and efficient. But there are still significant problems in digital collaboration. Most platforms created in the cloud in recent years are not used intensively. They all compete for the users and only ever represent a part of the processes. Every software manufacturer and operator tries to somehow differentiate itself from the competition. Unfortunately, I personally consider many of the strategies to be inadequate. The definition of the digital twin is clear.

In recent years, I have read many comments from disappointed digital users on social networks. I have received many digital letters on my own contributions. I’m curious to see if there will ever be a digital end-to-end solution that really lives up to the definition of the digital twin.

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