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Digital Twins Getting Smarter

Digital twins are becoming a standard for architects and building engineers across the construction spectrum. Digital Twins are 3D virtual replicas of physical buildings and infrastructure connected to the data in and around them, and are widely used to optimize their design, construction, and performance over the entire lifecycle. Building information modeling, otherwise known as BIM, provides much of the data, connecting the design to the future building and its ongoing maintenance.

One popular digital twin software system, SmartWorldPro from Cityzenith, is now being updated with the Beta release of SmartWorldPro2, an operational management tool for architects, contractors, and asset managers around the world. Cityzenith sees the digital twin market, worth $3.8 billion worldwide in 2019, growing by 45.4% annually to $35 billion by 2025.

Fresh from France

Construction is universal. Methods may change from country to country but building—and excavating—is done all over the world. What is developed in one country, however, may not benefit others if it remains a secret. Looking at the methodology used in other nations helps us all.

With subway and underground utility tunneling resuming in many parts of the U.S., knowing what is being done in other parts of the world can be helpful. In France, Condat, a specialist in surface chemistry and industrial lubricants, has partnered with Sigfox, a leading IoT (Internet of Things)-service provider and initiator of the 0G network, and its long-term integrator delaware, to create CondatLink, an IoT solution capable of helping tunnel boring machine operators to better manage their supply and stock of sealant on construction sites. delaware specializes in digital transformation with technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud, intelligent applications, IoT, virtual and augmented reality.

Digital Transformation 2020 Style

COVID-19 has disrupted every nation’s economy as countries order people to stay at home, businesses close, hospitals are overwhelmed with emergency patients, and government scramble to offer financial assistance to their citizens. However, the impact of COVID19 has failed to dampen digital transformation plans, with 52% of companies stating they will increase their spending on digital transformation, while only 18% are planning to spend less. These figures are according to a global research study from IFS, a Swedish integrated business software solutions provider.

COVID-19’s Impact on Clean Energy

Some historians will say that America was built on steam. From manufacturing plants run on steam generators to paddlewheel boats plying the Mississippi to great smoke belching locomotives steaming across the plains, tying the East to the West, America grew as its infrastructure grew. In the 1950s, Eisenhower started the modern Interstate Highway System, creating perhaps the greatest infrastructure project of all time. Energy sources expanded to meet the challenge of transportation and daily living as the country went from the Industrial Age to the Nuclear Age and Space Age.

IoT to the Rescue of Heavy Construction

The COVID-19 pandemic is a worldwide issue and companies in various industries and nations are responding in different ways. Almost universal, however, is the understanding that bad things can happen and we all must prepare better than last time. One approach, worldwide, is to explore the benefits of new technology or expand on the technology already in place.

The construction industry has faced significant business and technology challenges for a long time and many have been exaggerated by the pandemic. These include equipment and skilled labor shortages, increasingly short project schedules, and rising costs of infrastructure delivery. IoT (Internet of Things) will allow construction sites to leverage realtime data feeds to tackle these issues head on.

Doubling Down on BIM

Building Information Modeling or BIM for short, has become a staple in AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction), and facility management circles. So much so, the market is predicted to almost double in the next five years. According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, currently $4.5 billion, the BIM market in 2025 is estimated to reach $8.8 billion; that is a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 14.5%.

Rapid urbanization and increased infrastructure projects along with strong government support making BIM mandatory are the major factors driving the growth of the market. The collaboration of AEC companies results in completing a project faster with more benefits for the builder and owner. Many feel that BIM is among the most promising developments in the AEC segment. It adopts various digital technologies that help transform the AEC segment.

Expanding and Aiding Their Markets

While many companies are slowly reopening, others in the technology segment have been busy all along. Remote work isn’t possible when the job requires hitting a nail on the head but much easier when the end product is a software solution. And many software companies have run remote operations for years, so the current stage isn’t drastic. What is happening, and how it helps construction companies, makes for an interesting story.

As an example, McCormick Companies Group, a provider of software solutions for the construction industry, has acquired TriBuild Construction Management Software. TriBuild Construction Management Software is a SaaS (Software-as-a Service) solution designed for specialty trade contractors to manage their construction projects. It allows contractors to standardize important project operations like submittals, RFI’s (requests for information), and change orders in a cloud-based system.

Technology Helping the Reopening

Businesses are reopening after weeks of lockdown. Stores that have been closed to in-person customers are once more welcoming them in. But will the customers come? Will people take a chance with the coronavirus still running rampant in the country?

As the country phases in work across various industries, the state regulatory bodies have issued guidelines, such as those from Massachusetts,  mandating employers conduct daily health screenings to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  Business owners are faced with the burden of implementing methods to comply with reporting requirements and potential contract tracing requests. Employers wonder what a return to offices will look like amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Be Careful Out There!

In the 1980s TV show Hill Street Blues, every episode would have police Sergeant Phil Esterhaus tell his squad, “Hey, let's be careful out there.” With construction beginning to ramp up at a positive rate, workers are returning and so are the hazards of construction. This is especially true along the highways where traffic is increasing as businesses reopen and people leave their stay-at-home restrictions.

A recent survey by AGC Associated General Contractors of America) found that two-thirds of the 200-plus respondents reported at least one crash in the past year involving a moving vehicle at highway work zones, and 33% reported five or more crashes. AGC and HCSS, a software company specializing in heavy construction applications, conducted the survey. Another finding was that, as industry employment increases, more people are working in highway work zones that are typically close to moving traffic and it is important to remember that “any time your job site is just a few feet away from fast moving traffic, danger is never far away.”

Critical Infrastructure: Water Systems

Recurring concerns about aging infrastructure assets, a graying workforce, challenges from wildfires, floods and drought increasingly are testing the resilience of water systems. All of that lately has been against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic that halted the nation’s economy, leaving tens of millions jobless and testing the financial resilience of many providers.

U.S. water industry leaders are looking to accelerate innovation in strategy, operations, and capital planning by harnessing digital assets and data analytics. A Black & Veatch report, Strategic Directions: Water, finds efforts to adopt and implement technology are geared toward pushing better decision-making, optimizing and prioritizing system investments, and driving cost efficiencies to help deliver sustainability and resilience.