“Digital twin” means different things to different people. If the information in a digital twin is going to be useful, it needs to be created from the owner’s perspective. Our concept of digital twin to the point is that all the data about a building should be turned over to the building owner and be a true representation of the building as it was built, from the largest component to the smallest. However, it is important to know what data the owner actually needs. The definition of the digital plan should be “whatever the owner needs it to be.”

A 2018 study by FMI Corporation suggested that 95% of the data collected on jobs in the engineering and construction industry is not even used. Perhaps most of it is not the data the owner needs or wants. That situation could be improved by bringing the right people to the table at the right time for discussions. Even if there is a requirement for a 3D model on a job, the owner may not have someone inhouse who can even open it.

When the stakeholders on a job understand the owner’s tech stack, they can help that owner determine what the digital twin can be used for after it is turned over. In some cases, an owner may not be aware of what to ask for. When the design professional and construction professional work together, they can help the owner define what is really needed. The team can understand the ways the digital twin will be used – the systems that are already in place and who will be operating the digital twin – and the resulting communication and education can help inspire a more educated, sophisticated owner.

Another key in this process is developing an innovative culture, which requires continuous learning and improving.

Company culture ties into disruption in the industry by embracing that disruption. This kind of company can become a real trailblazer in the industry. For instance, much can be gained on a job in the way of productivity and efficiency when the experts at something (a specialty trade, for instance) can help design and then perform their portion of the job. That can result in an ideal streamlined workflow. Of course, that also requires a shift away from the busy work of reducing liability to avoid getting sued.

The owners are an integral part of making digital twins a usable and valuable part of the construction industry now and in the future.

Check out The AEC Disruptors podcast and learn what Danielle O’Connell had to say about digital twins.

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