Digital Twin Technology And Its Application In The Different Technical Disciplines

Dear TeamCAD website visitors,

TeamCAD’s friend and BIM associate, Mr. Predrag Jovanović is participating at the “XLVII Symposium on operational research” organized by the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering in Belgrade. This is the translation of his paper covering “Digital Twin Technology And Its Application In The Different Technical Disciplines With Reference In The Construction Industry” chosen by prof. dr. Goran Ćirović from the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad.

Summary: The paper presents a complete analysis of digital twin technology from a detailed explanation of what digital twin technology is, through an explanation in which technical disciplines it can be used and what are the benefits of using digital twin technology with examples from projects.

1. How The Digital Twin Technology Is Created And What It Represents Today?

The technology of making a digital twin model, in the format we know today, which is an existing or designed object or building and its identical copy in digital format, was created in 2002. It was first used in astronomy by NASA for producing and purchasing different components and systems from different suppliers. Digital twin models have been primarily used to calculate the life cycle of components, systems, and various assemblies and objects after installation, fabrication, and construction. Essentially, digital twins were used to calculate the cost of maintenance or life cycle of various components, systems, assemblies and objects, by making various simulations of phenomena and processes on their digital format replicas that would occur on existing objects.

By approaching the creation of a digital replica of an existing object, component or system and simulating various “real world” influences on them in the digital world, we come in a much cheaper way to data on all aspects and causes of life cycle costs of a particular object, component or system in a real environment and under the real influences of various phenomena that interact with an object, component or system.

It is important to mention a few more things related to the digital twin. The digital twin is one of the pillars of the fourth industrial revolution, and the potential and savings that this technology brings are becoming more and more obvious. Digital twins can be classified in many ways depending on the point of view. I think that the best way is to classify digital twins into digital twins of objects and buildings that are the subject of fabrication or construction and objects and buildings that have already been made or built, but we need additional information about those objects.

2. Digital Twins Of Objects Being Fabricated Or Constructed

With this type of digital twin, we typically mean objects that are subject to future fabrication or construction and that they do not exist in the real world in the moment of making a digital twin model. In this digital twin generation workflow, we first mean creating a BIM model, which is almost always an object or part of it being design. By object or part of a designed object, I mean objects such as buildings or parts thereof, cars or parts thereof, production line or parts of a production line, dynamic objects, traffic simulation or pedestrian motion in various scenarios, simulation of the destruction of a building (progressive collapse), etc.

All of the above objects or parts of objects that are subject to future fabrication or construction are characterized by the fact that from a BIM point of view they can be considered as fully static BIM models and cannot be attributed to the dynamic properties that underlie any simulation process.


This further leads us to the conclusion that the critical difference between the BIM model and the object’s digital twin, which is the object of fabrication or construction, is the ability to simulate with different digital tools the influences from the real environment, that is, to apply different dynamic influences to the BIM model.

3. Digital Twins Of Objects That Are Made Or Built

With this type of digital twin, we typically mean objects that are already made or built. At the very beginning, we face the question: “Why would you create a digital model or digital twin for anything that is already made or built? Apart from the additional cost, which cannot be considered as any benefit, what economic benefit can one expect from such a model? ”
To explain the need for making a digital twin of existing objects in the simplest way, I am going to give a straightforward example from everyday life.

I belong to a generation that used rotary dial phones daily in childhood.


Later, of course, I used cordless home phones, then cell phones, and here I am in the modern era in which I happily use all the benefits of human achievement, and therefore “smartphones”.

Let’s compare what information the rotary dial phone contained about its owner versus the smartphone.

Apart from the phone number, to which you could call not me but my family, there was virtually no information regarding the phone owner. With the advent of smartphones, a wealth of information about the phone owner and the number assigned to the owner is available. Free international communication is possible via the telephone number and specific applications. The information about himself that the smartphone user wants to share is accessible to everyone.

It’s important to note that the first smartphone came out in mid-2007. From a smartphone user perspective of just thirteen years, we can’t imagine going back to the old handsets with the rotary dial, since the capabilities between it and the smartphone are merely hard to compare – both devices are phones, but they do not necessarily belong to the same device category.

The question arises if it is necessary that now, even though we have new and very effective digital tools to digitize existing objects, we need the facilities we have already built to be digitized? Quite simply, why do we need it, and what will the digital twin of the made and built object serve us in the first place?

Take the existing building as an example and imagine the situation when walking through a building to ask the building owner what are the properties of a wall – what is its thickness, what material is it made of, what is the brand of the concrete wall, is it bearing wall, whether it has a finish and of which thickness, from which material the finish is made, is the load-bearing capacity of the wall such that we can hang brackets for pipes of a certain weight, which is the fire resistance of the wall, whether we can make a hole in the wall to accommodate the damper and “pull-in” the cooling or heating duct when planning a wall painting, what is the wall area in order to calculate the cost of wall painting, etc.


I am convinced that it would take a few days for the building owner to answer the above questions if we assume that he did not have a digital twin model of the building. Simply, the owner of the building would have to go through a pile of paper to get the information I needed, he would have to contact the archive for some information, and I am sure he would not be able to find some information.

However, if the building owner had a digital twin building model, I am confident that for some questions, I would get answers within minutes, and for slightly more complex questions, such as wall openings and wall-mounted pipe holders I believe I would get the answer in a few hours.

I think that you have, through a straightforward example of an ordinary wall, seen the potential of a digital twin of an existing facility, which, for example, can save you significant financial resources by optimizing the cost of maintaining the facility, finding the best option for renovating, upgrading and adapting industrial facilities to a different purpose and finally when calculating the operating costs and life cycle of the facility.

4. Digital Simulation Tools For Digital Twins Models

When talking about digital simulation tools for the digital twin, keep in mind that we are entering the rainforest, and it is very difficult to capture all the tools available. Therefore, I am going to list just a few of the most important digital simulation tools for digital twins and write a few sentences about each tool.

  • CFD (Computational fluid dynamics) is a calculation of fluid dynamics and is part of fluid mechanics, which uses numerical analysis and structured data to solve problems related to fluid and gaseous fluid behavior. CFD analysis has an extensive application including forces and moments on various digital models, pressure in tubes caused by liquid and gaseous substances contained in the tubes, explosion analysis, simulation of motion and flow of different types of particles, temperature action, simulation of weather, the behavior of digital models in an air tunnel, etc.


  • Dynamo is a digital tool used for parametric non-standard modeling, generating additional and non-standard data for more efficient calculations within the BIM discipline model; for processing, manipulation and easier visualization of generated data in the BIM model and orderly data exchange between different disciplines in a multidisciplinary BIM project process. Dynamo is a programming language and is based on the principle of visual programming. The reason that makes it one of the favorite digital tools for automating the BIM project process is that it is integrated with the Revit platform and does not require any additional procurement costs. It is easy to learn and does not require much programming experience. A huge advantage of including Dynamo, as a digital tool for automating the BIM project process, is that a once written Dynamo script, which automates a certain logical part of the BIM project process, can be used on an unlimited number of projects. This, to a well-designed Dynamo script applicable to multiple projects, gives tremendous value and brings great savings to project participants.
  • Python is an object-oriented programming language most commonly used to generate, transfer, and process data in the BIM workflow. Python helps as effectively as Revit plugin (PyRevit) or as part of Dynamo scripts integrated into Dynamo “Node”. What characterizes Python is that it is also a favorite tool in data science, system automation, API development, etc. Otherwise, the first book written to learn developers on using the Python programming language is called “Automate the Boring Stuff.” This fact simplifies any further explanation of why Python serves the domain of BIM workflow automation, both for operations in the BIM discipline model and in a multidisciplinary BIM project environment.

  • Sensors – For made or built objects, different types of sensors are used to measure the values needed to optimize pre-existing elements within an existing object. For example, sensors can measure the number of people in a particular room. Then the data obtained can be compared with the data assumed by the architect during project design. If the number of people in a given room is consistently higher than the assumed number, the building owner can optimize the machine’s system of fresh air injection. Similar is possible with measuring the brightness of rooms. By comparing the data thus obtained, if an error is detected, the building owner can correct the deficiencies to give the building user adequate comfort.

  • Machine learning is a digital tool that is defined as a sub-area of artificial intelligence. Machine learning is a process where a machine is learning things based on the experience and imitation of human actions in certain repetitive circumstances. In simple terms, machine learning is based on observing the actions a person performs when encountering a specific typical problem. After several repetitions, the program that “monitors the human” learns and adopts the algorithm of human behavior and assumes the execution of the same operation that he learned “monitoring the human”.

  • Given that artificial intelligence is not yet able to make very complex decisions and look at the problems that occur with data generated by different simulations, I think that we cannot yet speak of the massive and default use of artificial intelligence as a digital tool to simulate the process in a digital twin.

5. The Savings That Digital Twins Bring

  • By applying BIM workflow and digital tools used in various simulations on the digital twin model, and with proper BIM management of the complete BIM project process, there are between 5% and 15% more problems in the early stages of the project process, that is, long before the contracting project and the construction of the facility itself, which brings significant savings to the investor financially (data given by investor “Landlease”);
  • The use of different sensors in buildings, which generate data through data processing platforms, helps to automate the equipment in the facility more easily and efficiently, which improves the energy efficiency of the building and at the same time improves the comfort of the building occupants;
  • By analyzing the data collected through sensors in already fabricated and constructed objects and incorporating such data in the design process of future objects, the investor makes significant savings in the speed of fabrication or construction of the object, in the selection and installation of equipment, which, as a consequence, brings significant financial savings to the investor;
  • By developing and permanently implementing a digital strategy, which involves developing digital twin models, incorporating different sensors into existing objects and processing the data obtained from them, the investor receives “collective knowledge and experience” classified by object type, which in future projects of objects classified by type and purpose, brings significant financial savings at all stages of the project, then during the construction of the facility and in the life cycle of the facility itself;
  • Given that it is difficult to expect a price drop of urban construction land and site fitting, the only segment where an investor of building construction can make savings is to optimize the implementation of the BIM workflow and to produce digital twins, in which the digital performance of the simulation tools will permanently improve the performance of the building in all stages of project design, during and after construction.

6. Digital Twins Examples

  • Using sensors on the bridge, vibration data was collected during regular traffic. According to the project documentation made following the norms from 1975, the bridge needed to be reconstructed. The client turned to Arup to check whether it is possible to postpone the reconstruction of the bridge for some time if the current norms are respected. Instead of the classical approach, where we would do static calculations according to existing norms, Arup suggested to the client that the sensors should be used to measure the vibrations on the existing bridge during regular traffic and thus make an assessment of the condition of the bridge. Over the next four months, data on bridge vibrations during regular traffic were constantly collected and this data was transferred to the “Cloud” via IoT (Internet of Things). After processing the data obtained from the sensors, the measured vibrations showed that, with minimal interventions where only one sensor showed higher vibrations than the prescribed norms, it is possible to postpone the reconstruction of the bridge for at least seven years. If we take into account that the bridge is located near the port, which has very intensive ship traffic, the client is provided with great savings, because it was not necessary to close the port during the two-month minimum works on the reconstruction of the bridge.

  • Using sensors in the already constructed building, Arup Architecture, at the request of the building tenant, requested temperature measurements in each room for a month in order to check the heating and cooling system after the completion of the construction of the business building. After the measurements and data transfer via the “Internet of Things”, and then the processing of the obtained data, the average temperature in each room was obtained during a previously defined time interval. The obtained data indicated that the average temperature in some rooms deviated from the expected values predicted by the project. In this case, the lower temperature than expected was an obstacle for the tenant of the business facility to achieve full comfort. Due to the fact that the constructed building had its digital twin in the “Cloud”, via IoT (Internet of Things) and Forge platform in a very simple way it was possible to adjust the operation of the heating and cooling system so that the tenant provides maximum comfort.


  • Courtesy of “Mat-real Estate“, a company owned by the consortium “Matijevic”, the company “TeamCAD doo” made the first digital twin model of the existing construction facility “Sad Novi Bazaar” in Novi Sad. First, the BIM model of disciplines was developed, and then the BIM model was converted from the “Cloud” BIM 360 model to a web-based model of the digital twin on the “Autodesk Forge” platform. The reason why the BIM 360 Cloud model was converted to a web-based BIM model built on the Autodesk Forge platform is that all the power of digital twins remains trapped in the Revit model, which is often only available to a small group of users, because in order to view and use such a model it is necessary to have licensed software, a sufficiently strong computer, technical prior knowledge related to the use of the software, access to the original file, etc.


In order to make the digital twin with all the accompanying information available to a large number of users, we have developed a web application that makes this possible.


Web application relies on relatively new Autodesk Forge technology, the model is translated from Revit with all the information, while the rest of the application is programmed in JavaScript programming language, relying on jQuery, Bootstrap, Node, Node express…

With the help of the offered web application, it is possible to access the digital twin from any modern internet browser (we recommend Google Chrome). In the pictures shown, there is the first digital twin in Serbia. This is the shopping center “Sad Novi Bazaar”, which was done in cooperation with the company Matijevic from Novi Sad.

The application allows you to view the model, display building information, isolate parts of the building, walk through the model, etc.

You can access the application via the address:

7. Conclusion

Digital twin technology is a relatively new technology, which is proving its value day by day through optimization during the project development for buildings in construction, as well as in monitoring and optimizing the life cycle of the building and equipment installed in it.

The technology of digital twins strongly relies on BIM technology and chronologically it can be said that BIM technology is the starting point for further elaboration of the project with digital twin technology. Apart from the project process, the technology of digital twins becomes irreplaceable in the maintenance of existing buildings, then in the automotive industry, shipbuilding, aircraft industry, biomechanics, various digital simulations such as traffic simulation, simulation of evacuation behavior during emergencies, etc.

The most commonly used simulation tools in digital twin technology are CFD analysis (Computational fluid dynamics), simulations and procedures based on data generated by different sensors and processed by different data processing tools, most often using the programming language “Python”, etc.

Today, machine learning technology is widely used, as an integral part of digital twin technology, where after collecting and analyzing data, automated systems without human participation make decisions that achieve significant savings in the operation of both equipment and entire systems in order to optimize the costs of their exploitation.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *