When the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of global workers to adapt to remote work, architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms were some of the many industries making this quick transition. Now, after months of utilizing top remote tech tools to help them work from anywhere, some AEC firms are planning their return to work while others are leaning into their newfound digital tools and committing to going paperless

While many of the digital tools AEC firms have turned to since March— video conferencing platforms, project management software, and document tracking software— have been staples of the industries since before COVID-19, digital twin technology is new to the party, and by all accounts looks like it will be here to stay.

What is digital twin technology?

Digital twins are the digital replica of a living or non-living tangible object such as people, places, systems, or devices. As used by AEC firms, digital twin technology is used to create virtual models of buildings that collect information about the structure via wireless technology like sensors or drones.

While modeling technologies have been common fixtures in the industrial manufacturing sector, digital twins differ from previous models due to their use of sensors to tie the virtual replication to its physical model. That distinction allows engineers and project managers the opportunity to work on the digital, rather than explicitly the physical model— a huge benefit for working on hard-to-reach sites and for remote workers to stay involved in their ongoing projects while COVID-19 restrictions keep them working remotely.

Once a distant dream, now a common reality due to the rise in popularity and affordability of new technologies in the AEC industries such as AI and big data capabilities, digital twins have become commonplace tools and are quickly becoming indispensable across many industries. 

Why should you use digital twins for construction, architecture, or engineering projects?

In such a fast-paced modern world, project data runs the risk of changing at a moment's notice. With employees scattered remotely, and clients scattered even more, communicating the most up to date data can be in and ofitself a difficult task. Now, imagine you are able to skip this communication step and instead create a system where your client has access to all the information produced during the design and construction of your project— the data, drawings, documents, notes, and updates—  as they happen.

Enter: digital twin technology.

Benefits of Digital Twin Technology

When AEC firms utilize digital twins they are choosing to make communication with their clients more streamlined. 

Other benefits of digital twin technology include:

  • The elimination of data silos, because digital twin technology provides an accessible platform for all parties involved in the project
  • Digital twins provide project managers with real-time insights on project performance, allowing managers to make data-driven decisions about the project
  • Due to its continuous gain of valuable insights, digital twins enhance remote visualization, modeling, analysis, and planning of all projects
  • Digital twins prevent accidents from happening by predicting potential systems or properties failures
  • Remote teams can stay easily connected due to all project team members having access to in-progress and built projects through their digital twin
  • Companies save time and travel costs without having to continuously monitor the progress of projects with on-site visits

Collaborative, Cloud-Based Tools for AEC Companies

In addition to digital twins to assist with remote team collaboration, there are a plethora of other cloud-based tools that AEC firms can use to get the job done. These tools for remote meetings, project management software, and document tracking software are all cloud-based and ready to help your company collaborate as your project teams work from anywhere.

Zoom

If you attended your first remote meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, odds are you attended it through Zoom. This cloud-based teleconferencing software is currently being utilized by over 300 million daily users around the world. It excels at connecting remote teams, project managers with their clients, and hosting presentations of all sizes. Due to its user-friendly platform, Zoom has become the go-to video conferencing platform for tech newbies in any industry. For historically on-site industries such as AEC, Zoom is the obvious choice for all of your remote meeting needs. 

The Meeting Owl

Now that you have your Zoom account all set up, it is time to connect a smart, 360° webcam to your device to optimize your meeting experience. Video cameras like the Meeting Owl are ideal for replicating the in-person meeting experience in the virtual sphere. When you choose to use a Meeting Owl to assist your remote meetings or presentations, you will be prioritizing the virtual experience for all attendees. And for those new to remote meetings, video conferencing with smart cameras is the most natural replacement to in-person meetings and provides a better meeting experience than conference calls, or so our construction colleagues tell us.

Here’s a quick guide on using the Meeting Owl + Zoom to host project update meetings. —>

Procore

This cloud-based project management software has been helping AEC firms increase their project efficiency since its release in 2003. Thanks to its use of real-time data, this remote collaboration software helps minimize risks and project delays, 75% of project managers who use Procore reduced their project duration by at least 3 days. Procore’s award-winning suite of project management tools help over 1 million global users manage construction projects every year. And because all project stakeholders have access to shared information, projects are completed with more trust and through open lines of communication. Perfect for remote teams working on projects of any size, Procore helps you avoid unwanted project surprises due to heightened project visibility.

Sign up for Procore here.

ImageSite

Due to the size and complexity of documents produced by AEC firms, remote document sharing and security can be a concern. Simply put, for high-performing remote AEC firms, utilizing trusted document tracking software is a necessity. ImageSite is a cloud-based engineering document management software that’s easy to use, so it’s great for those who are new to remote tools and software.. Additionally, Imagesite allows remote workers to access, search, and edit documents while controlling who else views and edits them. Use ImageSite to reduce the opportunity for error the next time you share critical documents.

Sign up for ImageSite here.

Just like any other innovative virtual tool, digital twin technology is more than just a database – it’s a hub where information is integrated, context is provided, and insights are generated to optimize building performance. To keep your AEC firm building from anywhere, it is time to embrace digital twin technology.

meeting owl for construction with construction tools