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How ‘Digital Twins’ are Shaking Up Risk Management in Infrastructure Projects: A Seven Step Journey

Whoever said twins were double the trouble never met a ‘Digital Twin’ in the world of infrastructure management! This high-tech doppelgänger (i.e., a digital representation of physical objects or processes) is stealing the spotlight in many industries, especially those with sensors galore. But what IS a Digital Twin and how can its application impact infrastructure planning and development for the better? Let’s take a walk through each project stage to find out:

Pre-Planning Stage: Spotting Risks Before They Spot You

Picture this: you’re able to see potential risks before you even break ground. With a digital twin, this isn’t sci-fi, it’s reality. Geotechnical risks, environmental impacts, clashes with existing infrastructure? It’s all in the realm of feasibility if you have the right data and management processes to accurately reflect the real-world environment. Wait- but isn’t this just a simulation? Well, kind of. The difference can seem nuanced, but there is one and it relates largely to feedback loops. Digital twins use real-world data to provide active feedback compared to simulations which use static models to predict outcomes based on a set of designated inputs.

Design Stage: Try, Test, and Triumph

The benefit of iterative design is not a novel concept. With digital twins, your design stage becomes a sandbox of creativity and caution. Test your designs against every ‘what if’ scenario you can dream up and compare designs against decision criteria relevant to your project. It’s like having a crystal ball, showing you what works and what doesn’t, all before a single brick is laid. The best part? Running scenarios on your ‘Digital Twin’ can facilitate stakeholder engagement and boost transparency of your project.

Procurement Stage: The Ultimate Shopping Guide

More and more companies are starting to see the link between a digital twin and supply chain efficiency, and for good reason. A digital twin isn’t just a pretty face; it’s your ultimate shopping guide. It gives you a detailed rundown of everything you need, from materials and machinery to workforce. This means you can side-step potential pitfalls in vendor selection, pricing, and timelines. Say goodbye to project delays and budget overruns and say hello to a well-planned procurement process.

Construction Stage: Your Real-Time Risk Watchdog

As your project starts taking shape, your digital twin becomes your risk watchdog. It sniffs out deviations from the plan, safety hazards, delays, and cost overruns. No more waiting for risks to knock on your door; with a digital twin, you can meet them head-on, manage them proactively, and keep your project on track.

Commissioning Stage: The Smoothest Handover Ever

Handing over from construction to operations can feel like walking a tightrope. But fear not, your digital twin is here to make it a breeze. It helps spot any potential operational issues that need addressing before your infrastructure project makes its grand debut.

Decommissioning Stage: The Cleanest Goodbye

All good things come to an end, but with a digital twin, even the end can be good. When your infrastructure is ready for retirement, your digital twin helps plan a safe and efficient farewell. Environmental impact, safety hazards, compliance with regulations – all taken care of. It’s the cleanest goodbye you could wish for.

The Takeaway?

In the world of infrastructure projects, digital twins are the superheroes we all need. They’re transforming risk identification and management across every stage, making projects more resilient, efficient, and sustainable. The result? Less time and money spent fixing oversights and a better sleep for our infrastructure project managers out there. Who would say no to that…?

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