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"Twin is the new BIM" - ideas from BIM Show Live

BIM Show Live is a two-day conference held at the Boiler Shop, Newcastle. In February, 250 attendees discussed the latest technology and processes in the construction industry.

At Kreo, we attributed the best quote of BIM Show Live to Rob Charlton, CEO of Space Group:

"Twin is the new BIM."

Rômulo Simionatto from BIM Technologies later echoed this in his talk on BIM for Residential. So what do they mean by this?

Twin, BIM... digital construction terms explained

bim model diagram - wall layers

In case you haven't been following our latest blogs, digital twin is the newest "proptech" concept on the block. It's quite simply a digital version of a physical asset, created by sensors (or by the "internet of things"). In the building world, cameras and laser scanners are used to "see" every part of a building and create a digital version of it.

If you don't know what Building Information Modelling (BIM) is, firstly, it's a 3D digital model of a building or a proposed building. Secondly, and most importantly, it includes a huge amount of information about everything in it. To give an example of the kind of information, imagine double-clicking into a section of wall in a model of a house (as in the image above). The model will tell you:

  • Dimensions (height, width, weight)
  • Physical properties (materials, density)
  • Function (external, load bearing)
  • Where it belongs in the building in relation to everything else

That is only a few of the many things you can find out about just that one wall. From there, you can make increasingly accurate assumptions on the cost and schedule of a project. With this depth of information on every element from the start, you can see every step of the proposed building process, prior to making serious investments.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) was seen as revolutionary in replacing pen and paper drawings. It certainly saved professionals a lot of time. BIM is technically still CAD (as Jay Zallan reminded us at BIM Show Live) but it's the next step. It gives us more information than we've ever had, before it's anywhere near being built. It doesn't necessarily save us time while designing buildings, but it certainly saves us time throughout the entire lifecycle of the project. BIM can save companies a huge amount of risk and money by enabling them to increase accuracy and quality at every stage.

So why is twin the new BIM?

bim is more than a digital twin

Well in most ways, it's not. Twin does not describe the full value of Building Information Modelling. It also can't technically be a twin before the physical building has been built. Digital twin technology does, however, fit in perfectly with BIM technology. If you scan an existing building and create a BIM model from that, you can revolutionise facility management for the entire lifecycle of that building.

When the BIM model already exists, you can use digital twin technology to keep updating your model throughout the construction project. You can use the digital twin tech to keep your BIM updated right through to the end of the building's "life". At this point you can extend the combined technology to facilitate the safe and efficient demolition of the building.

The reason twin has to be the new BIM is that most people just don't understand BIM. When you read about it, unless you're working in construction, you'll likely wonder why you would want such in-depth information. The slow uptake of BIM in the construction industry has also been partly because of this. Professionals don't understand why it's worth spending the time, energy and money on getting so much information right from the start.

Sell the value in BIM - without saying BIM

explaining complicated concepts such as bim

We at Kreo want everyone to understand the value of investing in BIM right from the concept of any building project. But we also understand that not everyone wants to get involved to this depth.

Sarah Davidson, associate professor of Nottingham University, gave us helpful advice on wording BIM to developers and Clients (following her related feature in BIM+ magazine). Avoid the term! Most people just want to know what will get them the best outcome, not how it will get them there.

Strictly speaking, these two enablers of digital construction are very different. But digital twin says so much more than BIM to your average person. No one can imagine or understand BIM without a lot of explanation. A digital version of a physical asset does exactly what it says on the tin. Finally, digital twin is also used in other industries, so the term can truly catch on (unlike BIM, a term solely used in construction).

BIM Show Live attendees have a responsibility

Across architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), everyone is trying to work together to achieve better outcomes. They are doing this with BIM. But as Rômulo said in his talk at BIM Show Live, property and construction technology should be aligned. Property and construction should be considered alongside one another, as they are symbiotic.

Everyone in AEC should take responsibility for bringing BIM to the property and real estate world. In other words, AEC professionals, leaders and companies need to convince the Client of the importance of getting this right. If they can't do that through the term BIM, use the term twin.

BIM Show Live attendees were the most advanced construction audience we've met in terms of understanding the real advantages to BIM. It's our collective responsibility to make these outcomes accessible to everyone.

If you work with Real Estate businesses but you're not sure how to convince them of BIM, send them this blog relating BIM to the concept of digital twin. Let us know what they (or you) think: info@kreo.net.

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