Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

The Definition of a Digital Twin Framework

As our infrastructure assets face:

Adaptability – how can our infrastructure meet the pressures and demands of modal shifts that see increases and decreases in demand. It’s crucial for the long-term feasibility of infrastructure networks that they can become more reliant to change.

Sustainable – if countries are to meet their sustainability goals then it is crucial that we understand where efficiencies and emission reductions can be made whether that be within a network or the interdependencies between infrastructure networks for instance if the entire rail network was to be electrified that result increase in demand on the national grid and power generation could that be met sustainably. 

Greater Complexity – as assets continue to incorporate new advancements in technology they grow in complexity, they increase the strain being put on the systems and mechanisms that are used to manage them.

Value for Money – as the cost of building, maintaining, and operating infrastructure continues to rise there must be a strong case put forward for any intervention that can demonstrate its impact and benefits that it can bring. This is not just about keeping costs down it’s also about maximising the benefits to all the stakeholders.

And these must all be achieved while being managed and assessed using methods that have largely gone unchanged for the generations.

And this is where the utilisation of digital twin could aid in the addressing of these issues, but before then we must fully understand what a digital twin is and what can it really do?
There has been a need so far to boil down the parts of digital twin into its most basic of components, firstly so we can establish a common understanding of what a digital twin is and secondly and

The most basic simply states that a digital twin is comprised of:

1. The Physical components
2. The Virtual models
3. The Data that connects them

But as we look further these begin to change and emphasis different areas of development

1. The digital replica of an asset

2. The bi-directional communication between the asset and the digital replica

3. The ability to combine multiple datasets and gain insights into the data being collected
First, we have to ask ourselves why a digital twin?

Digital twin at its core seeks to develop a greater understanding of our assets:

• How do we use them or don’t?
• How there use changes over time
• How we operate and maintain our assets
• And what effect do all of these actions have on one another

From this understanding of singular assets we can also begin to understand the role they play in networks/estates and systems of assets:

• Understanding their interdependencies?
• The cause and effect of changes made in the asset on the rest of the network
• Or even benchmark or compare operational/maintenance performance across a network

And Ultimately we can begin to connect these networks and systems of assets into an ecosystem of interconnected assets:

• System of systems
• At this stage is when we begin to realise the national digital twin

But it’s critical to understand that at each stage of this development the understanding and value in data being created is crucial in helping us meet some of our goals:

• The strive for net-zero carbon
• Optimising design
• The efficient operation of assets

To name but a few

Sets out an organisations goals and aspirations for the digital twin to be developed

Give the development a clear purpose for the development of a digital twin and the use of the framework

Pre Digital Twin:

These first there stages 0,1 & 2 looks at the necessary behaviours, systems, and capabilities that are necessary for the future creation of a digital twin

Essentially these are foundations that a digital twin will be built on

Digital twin relations stages:

Highlight the difference in the capability of different digital twins as well as the possible technologies and processes that might be employed in a digital twin to meet its intended purpose.

Optioneering of digital twin configurations to ensure it meets the intended purpose.
We have an understanding of the components, and the route to the development of the digital twin but what does that mean in terms of technologies and processes that enable the digital twin.
How do we have to ask what is necessary for the development of a framework?

we look at two elements:

The first is what are the milestones of developing a digital twin?

What are the achievable steps that we can plot that can be recognised and understood by the many?  That also reflects the research whether that be industry/academic work being produced around the subject of the digital twin.

These milestones also have to have clear characteristics that define them when also highlight the differences as they progress.

And highlighting this difference brings me to the second of the two elements that we have to consider when developing a framework and this is the dimensions.

The dimensions are the key factors that will be measured at each milestone.

There has to be a clear palatable progression in each of these dimensions at each milestone.
One of the more famous versions of this sort of development that may be familiar to you is the development of the BIM levels:

In the Bew Richards wedge.

Where the milestones are the BIM levels that were developed to help the industry track their progression and create a clearer target and highlight the objectives to be achieved.

The dimensions, in this case, look at how various facets of how information in the built environment is: created, stored, shared, updated and so on.
What are we measuring in the framework being developed here?

People, Technology and process

Begins to look at maturity and capability:

People look at:
• Necessary roles required
• The description of those roles
• The skills and competencies required
• How do these roles interact with the digital twin
• Influence the twin
• Influenced by the twin
• Monitor/curate the working of
• How do these roles change as we progress

Technology looks to categorises uses:
Understanding the function or purpose of each technology in each application.
Doing this by giving categories such as:

1. Data Acquisition
2. Data Structuring and Management
3. Analytics and Insight
4. Decision Making
5. Control
6. Interface
7. Security

This isn’t about stating which software and proprietary tech is the best fit

• What working processes are being targeted
• What are the working processes already in place?
• How are they connected currently
• What impact will digital twin have on these?
• How do we manage that change?