Analysis and visualization of data in Digital Twins technology – Cloud and Autodesk Forge

Dear TeamCAD website visitors,

We are continuing about interesting topics about BIM project process and Digital Twins technology. As I have announced in the previous article “Storing And Availability Of Digital Twin Model Data – Are The Forge And The Cloud The Best Solutions?” today I will be addressing the following “Analysis and visualization of data in Digital Twins technology – Cloud and Autodesk Forge”.

In the “Storing And Availability Of Digital Twin Model Data – Are The Forge And The Cloud The Best Solutions?” article I have tried to give an explanation about the options to store data and make them always accessible to all of the BIM project process stakeholders. Just as a reminder – I have covered the subject of storing and availability of data during the BIM project process in a couple of previous articles: “Data Management In The Digital Twin Of The Building”“Advanced BIM data management”, etc.

I am of the opinion that I have rounded up the subject of data storing and availability during the BIM project process in my previous articles, so today I will be considering further processing od data in the Digital Twin model.

Podaci digitalnih blizanaca

No matter the source of generated data, during the BIM project process or coming from sensors or IoT, the question is how to analyze this data, how to visualize and make them available to all project stakeholders, at any given moment during all project phases, but also during the completed building project lifecycle. Therefore, in today`s article, I will be intensively focusing on BIM project process, Digital Twins technology, Cloud and Autodesk Forge platform, and project environments. To start, I will define the meaning of the mentioned terms:

  • BIM is a project process that relies on a data-rich 3D model, serving as a starting point for design in various engineering disciplines, as well as for multidisciplinary collaboration in all of the project phases. Also, we may say that BIM technology is the basis of every Digital Twin model and that in fact, BIM data-rich model is the starting point of transforming the BIM model into the Digital Twin model.
  • Digital Twins technology is the technology that is based on the digital replica of the physical data, processes, and systems and represents the digital simulation of the reality that can be used for various purposes.
  • Cloud technology is relying on the external set of servers that can be accessed via the internet. These can hold different model types, databases, software for data processing and analysis, etc. The key advantage of the Cloud technology compared to traditional internal servers is that the Cloud can handle an enormous amount of data while it is available to all stakeholders in the way it is set up in the data access protocol between the project participants. In the building and construction industry, Cloud solutions enable the usage continuity of the BIM technology and Digital Twins technology, from the conceptual design throughout the following project phases up to finished construction, and afterward during maintenance of the building during its complete lifecycle.
  • Autodesk Forge platform is based on the web service application that enables the integration of SaaS solutions (Fusion Team, BIM 360, etc.) in user workflow and/or implementation of any components used in these Autodesk user solutions for web applications or mobile phone and tablet apps.

Digitalni blizanci

After we have defined these technologies that will be the focus of today`s article, let us get back to data. In order to be sure that all of the readers will be completely confident with all of the processes associated with data, let us look at the data in the Digital Twin model from the Data Science perspective. If we take that there is no core difference between the data in the Data Science and data in the Digital Twins technology, processes connected to data can be roughly divided in this way:

  • Data collection
  • Data storage and availability.
  • Data analysis and visualization.
  • Decisions and actions based on the data analysis results.

Based on the fact that the detailed consideration of all the data connected processes would very hardly fit into one article, my intention in today`s article is to precisely consider process of data analysis and data visualization in the Digital Twins technology, while in the following articles I will write about other processes connected to data.

Analiza i vizuelizacija podataka

Data Analysis and Visualization

No matter where was the BIM or Digital Twin model data generated, whether during the BIM project process, by different sensor measurements or by using IoT, I believe that every reader of this article is aware that its analysis and visualization can be considered as the key tool which enables us to achieve considerable savings. It is equally possible to save during the BIM project process, but also in the scenario when we strive to optimize economic and ecological aspect of building exploitation.

But, Cloud and Autodesk Forge platforms do not give us the possibility of maximum optimization only in the industries in which we are used to presence of BIM and Digital Twins technology – like airplane industry, shipbuilding, construction, bio-mechanics, etc. Cloud based models using the Autodesk Forge platform enables us to, besides desktop applications, make the necessary analysis and visualization of data in the Cloud project environment, as well as on the Autodesk Forge platform.

When we want to analyze and visualize the data from the BIM or Digital Twins model, we can use many tools and access points, but in today`s article I will focus on the most efficient and mostly used data analysis and visualization methods with the potentially widest application in various areas and disciplines. In the following part of the article, I will address both desktop solutions, as well as Cloud solutions that give the possibility of efficient BIM or Digital Twins model data analysis and visualization. For the very end of this text, I will write about Autodesk Forge, as the platform where everything is possible.

Cloud rešenja

Mostly used tools for BIM and Digital Twin model analysis and visualization

Depending on the purpose for which the Digital Twin model was made, we can use different tools that help us to process data most efficiently in the Digital Twin model. Despite mentioned, we can roughly divide the Digital Twin model data processing methodology like so:

  • CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) is the calculation of the fluid dynamics and it represents part of the fluid mechanics that as the basis of the analysis considers numerical analysis and structured data to solve the problems connected to fluid behavior in a liquid or gaseous state. CFD analysis has wide application including force and force moments on various digital models, pipe pressure caused by matters in liquid and gaseous state present in the pipeline, explosion analysis, motion and flow of different particle types, temperature impact, weather condition simulations, the behavior of digital models in air tunnel, etc.

CFD

  • Dynamo is the digital tool that is used for parametric non-standard modeling, generating of additional and non-standard data for more efficient calculations in the area of BIM model, for processing, manipulation and easier visualization of generated data in the BIM model, and for managed data exchange between different disciplines in the multidisciplinary BIM project process. Dynamo is the programming language based on the principle of visual programming. The reason why it is popular as a tool for BIM and Digital Twin model data analysis and visualization is that it is integrated with the Autodesk Revit platform and that there are no additional charges. It is easy to learn and it does not require big programming experience. Huge advantage of including Dynamo as the BIM project process automatization is that, once written Dynamo script that processes data of a particular logical group of the BIM project process, can be used on an unlimited number of projects, gives great value and brings significant savings to the project stakeholders.
  • Python is the object-oriented programming language most frequently used for generating, transferring, analysis and visualization of the BIM and Digital Twins model data. Python equally efficiently helps as the Revit plugin (PyRevit) or as the part of Dynamo scripts integrated in the Dynamo “Node”. What characterizes Python is that it is the favorite tool also in the Data Science, system automation, API development, etc. Also, the first book, which was teaching programmers about the Python language was titled “Automate the boring stuff”. This fact maximally simplifies every further explanation what is Python used for in the domain of automated analysis and visualization of BIM data, in both BIM discipline models and a multidisciplinary BIM project environment.
  • Power BI is the digital tool that in the very simple manner does the analysis and visualization of data, not just in the domain of BIM and Digital Twins technologies, but also in Data Science wider contest. It has embedded tools that very efficiently systematize data from various sources and environments, then put them on their own platform, which was intended for analysis and visualization of data. Power BI enables us also to more efficiently address all the problems from the data angle and to make decisions in an easier and safer way, but also act upon them based on the data generated in the BIM or Digital Twins model. This platform is characterized by a very simple user interface and ease of learning and analysis and visualization of data.

Power BI

  • Machine learning is the digital tool defined as the sub-discipline of artificial intelligence. It is based on machine learning based on human experience an impersonation of human activities that repeat over time. To put it simply, machine learning is based on watching actions performed by humans while addressing the typical problems. After a certain number of repetitions, the program “overlooks humans” while learning and acquiring behavioral algorithms and takes over the execution of the same operation in the future.

Machine learning

The above mentioned tools are the most powerful tools for analysis and visualization of data generated during the BIM project process or by developing model of the Digital Twin. Of course, there are many other digital tools that are very useful for successful analysis and visualization of data, but, the goal of this article is not representation of all the possible tools for successful implementation of BIM project process automation, it is to give you the idea in what direction you should consider when trying to find the best digital tools for analysis and visualization of data generated during BIM project process or during development of the Digital Twin model.

The best and the most compact tools for data analysis and visualization in the Cloud solutions

When talking about the best and brightest, the most compact Cloud tools for analysis and visualization of data, generated during the BIM project process or development of the Digital Twins model, we cannot go around the following Cloud solutions:

  • BIM 360 is the Cloud solution that can be considered the best option at this moment for the BIM project environment. Key advantage of the BIM 360 Cloud project environment is that it provides the same project user experience to all of the stakeholders in the BIM project process during all of the phases, during the construction of the building object, and finally during the whole lifecycle of the completed building during its exploitation. Huge advantage while working in BIM 360 project interface is that it enables handover of the BIM models during all phases of the project, which gives the investor huge savings and consistency of the data throughout the project lifecycle. Different modules give insight in the various types of data at any given moment of the BIM project process, where data is represented in the very simple, understandable manner. With additional analysis and visualization of the data it is possible to make conclusions and decisions and visualize them in the BIM 360 project environment, while making everything available to all of the stakeholders.

BIM 360

  • Fusion 360 is the Cloud project environment very similar to the BIM 360, but as the BIM 360 is intended for the BIM workflow, Fusion 360 is intended for development and design of the various products. It also, very efficiently, supports iterations during the design and virtual testing of the object, product or assembly. We can say that Fusion 360 is the most complete Cloud project solution during all phases of the development of products, assemblies, industrial solutions, etc.

Autodesk Fusion 360

  • Configurator 360 is the Cloud solution that gives the possibility of development of any type of product based on client`s needs. Product that the potential buyers can order in the Cloud environment Configurator 360 is based on component parts and basically the potential buyer configures the product it wants to order, choosing between the offered parts that the seller offers on the Configurator 360 Cloud platform. This Cloud solution has a huge application in the furniture industry, parts and components of complicated systems and in many other industries.

Configurator 360

His majesty – Autodesk Forge

If you have carefully read the description and possibilities of the above mentioned Cloud solutions I hope that you have noticed that all three Cloud options are connected by one thing. Namely, all three Cloud project solutions are characterized by a mutual project environment for all of the stakeholders, transparency of the generated data, compatibility of different formats integrated on one platform, access to data generated during all project phases for all participants, possibility of analysis and visualization of data in the common project environment, etc. Does it seem to you that all three before mentioned Cloud solution are based on the same platform? If your answer is “YES!” you have guessed it right.

Namely, BIM 360, Fusion 360 and Configurator 360 are all based on the Autodesk Forge technology and practically represent different variations of Autodesk Forge intended for different demands when considering project environment and data type that are processed during the project lifecycle.

But, despite the similarities with BIM 360, Fusion 360 and Configurator 360, Autodesk Forge platform gives the possibility of making web models, where all the functionality of the BIM or Digital Twin model, on all levels, including the analysis and visualization level, remains available to all users, despite the fact that it changes the format when transforming from BIM or Digital Twin model to Autodesk Forge model. In this way, Autodesk Forge gives the top level management an option to see all of the advantages of the BIM and Digital Twins technologies, without additional learning in an easy and simple way. Web model generated on the Autodesk Forge platform, in this way, really enables all project process stakeholders, to check any segment of the model, piece of data or current state of the project, via web model, using a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone.

Autodesk Forge

We can safely conclude, thanks to the Autodesk Forge platform it is possible to realize full cooperation and collaboration on all levels, between all stakeholders in the project process, in a very simple intuitive way, without huge effort to learn BIM or Digital Twins technologies.

Here I will finish this article “Analysis and visualization of data in Digital Twins technology – Cloud and Autodesk Forge” and my opinion about the currently available solutions for analysis and visualization in the Digital Twins technology. I would like to announce my next article “Decisions and actions based on results of Digital Twins data analysis”.

If you have any questions, comments or want to know more details about the topic I covered in this and previous articles please contact TeamCAD, which will be pleased to provide you with additional information.

Also, if you need advice on how to best apply digital twin technology or you want to apply digital twin technology to your project or constructed facility, please contact TeamCAD, who will be happy to help you.

Until the next time,

Predrag Jovanović

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