What if <Iron Man> suit-building technology is used for construction?
The movie “Iron Man” features a scene where the main character Tony Stark makes an Iron Man suit using 3D holograms. He implements the design in 3D and runs simulations to identify problems. This technology, which seemed so futuristic state-of-the art technology is called Digital Twin. The cutting edge technology that connects the virtual world and the physical world in real time has now begun to permeate into our lives, not just in movies.
What is Digital Twin?
Digital twin is a technology that literally creates a twin 3D model that is identical to the physical world in a virtual world and predicts results through simulation.
For example, when constructing a building using Digital Twin technology, first, it is necessary to implement a twin model (3D) in the virtual world identical to the physical world using a computer, and then attach sensor (IoT) to the physical building to collect various information (5G). By analyzing the sensor information collected in real time, it becomes possible to manage status and progress of the construction site. In addition, the principle of Digital Twin is to predict problems that may occur in advance through simulations and reflect the derived results in the physical world again.
What is the difference between Digital Twin and Metaverse?
Digital twins are similar to Metaverse in that they deal with the virtual world, but they are distinct in terms of implementation techniques and utilization. Metaverse creates avatars to represent itself in a three-dimensional virtual world similar to the physical world and delivers an array of economic, social, and cultural experiences. Connections to the real world are essential and the virtual and the physical worlds do not necessarily have to be identical. On the other hand, the key to Digital Twin is that the real and virtual worlds are synchronized in real time to reflect the same data. It is closer to Mirror Worlds in which what happened in the virtual reality is transferred directly to the real world. Since the information obtained from the simulation affects real world decision-making, it is evaluated to be a more realistic technology than Metaverse, applicable to different industries.
History of Digital Twin
The birth of Digital Twin dates back to the 1970s. When Apollo 13, a space probe carrying out the lunar exploration, broke down, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) created and simulated a space probe and space environment with similar conditions at the ground center. Of course, it was not a modern concept of Digital Twin technology, but it was significant in that similar effects could be implemented using simulators.
It is in the 2000s that the modern concept of Digital Twins came about. Digital Twins grew rapidly with the development of infrastructure technologies including AI, AR, IoT, and 5G. The first company to introduce Digital Twin was General Electric (GE) in the U.S, in the field of aircraft engine management system. By creating a 3D model of the engine, and collecting and monitoring real-time data, GE predicted replacement frequency of engine parts and probabilities of failure, successfully reducing maintenance and repair costs and aircraft defects.
Singapore is a country that stands unrivalled in terms Digital Twins. Over three years, it has created and introduced “Virtual Singapore”, which implements data from cities such as all buildings, roads, structures, and populations in 3D virtual reality. For example, when planning buildings and parks in the city center, instead of immediately starting construction, it is possible to simulate the construction’s impact on the Virtual Singapore platform, assessing harmonization with the surrounding landscape, violation of right to sunlight, impact on traffic, etc. It is also possible to preemptively respond to disaster situations such as floods and fires. In Korea, Sejong City has also been applying Digital Twins to the transportation and environment sectors since 2018.
How big is the Digital Twin market?
As such, Digital Twin is gradually expanding beyond outer space, with difficult access, to product manufacturing and urban planning. The ability to validate everything in the virtual reality in advance allows to reduce risks and increase quality. Thanks to these advantages, the number of Digital Twin use cases by industry such as automobiles and energy are also on the rise. For example, the battery life of an electric vehicle can be predicted based on driving data collected from vehicles, or power supply can be optimized by predicting users’ power consumption and production. In addition, thanks to digital simulations, challenging experiments in reality due to environmental or cost problems, can also produce similar results just like in the physical world, while saving time and money.
Digital Twin is gaining attention with cutting edge next-generation technology, and the pace of growth is overwhelming. According to a report by global research group Markets and Markets, the global Digital Twin market is expected to grow more than 15 times from 3.5 trillion won in 2020 to 54.2 trillion won in 2026. Analysts say that the rapid digital transformation around the world due to the pandemic also affected the pace of growth.
Hyundai E&C to lead Digital Twin in construction sector
Digital twins are also creating a new wave in the construction industry. This is because it is not easy to understand all the working environments before construction due to the nature of the construction industry, where various types of construction projects are carried out in a limited space, and even after completion, maintenance and management such as repair, reinforcement, and safety diagnosis must be continued. In this process, the use of Digital Twins can help detect risk factors in advance to ensure safe construction, predict the period or scope of repair work even after completion, and even optimize operations through simulation.
Hyundai E&C, keen on the future of construction, has been actively researching Digital Twins ahead of anyone else. Digital twins are applied to various fields ranging from tunnels to ports, highways, and housing. In particular, Hyundai E&C is recognized as a leader in *BIM, which is the key component of Digital Twins. In July last year, it even obtained the *ISO 19650:2018 certification, an international standard in the field of BIM. Based on this, Korea’s leading builder is accelerating development of BIM-based Digital Twin simulation technologies.
*BIM (Building Information Modeling): A system that enables the integrated utilization of all information in a building based on a three-dimensional design method
*ISO (International Organization for Standardization): Established in 1947, it is a global coalition of representatives from more than 100 countries. ISO 19650:2018 certification, among others, is a standard related to the BIM information management operating system issued in 2018, and can only be obtained after rigorous verification and inspection based on the requirements for BIM information management and operation and collaboration capabilities of each project operator.
In the case of the National Museum of Qatar completed by Hyundai E&C, 3D BIM was applied to the entire construction process for the first time in the world. BIM's assistance was crucial to realize the original and unprecedented asymmetric exterior created by mixing and interlocking 316 disks. The site workers identified errors in the design drawings in advance in 3D building model and prevented problems that could arise during the actual construction process. In addition, barcodes were attached to each panel to assemble 76,000 Fiber Reinforced Concrete (FRC) panels that make up the circular disk, and barcodes were scanned to track and manage which part of the circular disk it was.
In addition, Hyundai E&C developed Korea’s first smart integrated construction management platform HIBboard (Hyundai IoT Smart Dash-Board) that can monitor the working environment or smart construction information of construction sites by linking construction data to BIM models. This platform based on the BIM model enables integrated management of IoT sensor information, location information of workers and equipment, drone data, and CCTV footages, so that on-site management can be performed more efficiently.
In the future, the virtual world will be more deeply embedded in our daily lives, and at the forefront will be Digital Twin. This is because Digital Twins can be applied to all areas that require simulation and decision-making, such as buildings, automobiles, aeronautics, cities, bridges, and energy power plants. Particularly in the construction sector, which provides our daily spaces and added convenience to our lives, Digital Twins are helping to create safer and more efficient sites. Hyundai E&C remains strongly committed to digital transformation of the construction industry and development of smart construction technologies. The future of construction sites that will be transformed smarter by various digital innovations led by Hyundai E&C, looks more vibrant and promising than ever.