How Can Virtual Twin Technology & Digital Twin Technology help your business

A  virtual or digital twin allows the analysis of data to be applied to the physical world in order to research, create, test, build, reconfigure, or imagine any potential scenario that may occur. It bridges the gap between the physical and digital world by being a virtual replica of a physical thing or place. It can also be used to monitor, diagnose,and optimize any performance. At vScenario, use of virtual twins is an integral part of their business.

vScenario uses digital twin in design, construction, building analysis, and scenario training development of a specific place, location or building.  The aid of a digital twin in structural and civil engineering can identify building shifts overtime.  Digital twins help solve architecture, engineering and construction problems before they happen. 

Utilizing reality capture in a pre-design phase allows for highly specialized engineers to analyst data in real time and act on insight rather than intuition. The end result, a technology based solution that saves project dollars.

vScenario's use of virtual technology in the development of a building design aids their the structural and civil engineering.  Creating a digital twin replica of an area or building before it is built optimizes the operations maintenance and troubleshoots potential problems.

Digital Twin Technology Explained
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    Find out how vScenario's Digital Twin Technology can help your business succeed.

    vScenario's Virtual Twin / Digital Twin Technology

    vScenario's Digital Twin Technology Presentation

    Video Transcription

    Mike Yeager:
    My name is Mike Yeager. I'm the director of applied technology for a company called Vscenario. We'll be talking about the virtualization of electric substations, modeling substations and all the applications that come from that. I want to talk you through the process that gets us there; how you go from having nothing to having a very robust 3D model of your substation. Then, most importantly, how you actually use that data to do stuff; to solve problems. We always say that data by itself is meaningless; just numbers. We got to turn that data into information which solves problems, drives decisions.

    Mike Yeager:
    We'll talk a little bit about security. That's where we spend most of our time, but there's a lot of applications for these 3D models so we'll look at some different ones. Yeah, we're going to … Again, I want to walk you through the process of how you go from nothing to something, and so that's acquiring data, fusing that data together, storing that data and then using that data. We'll start with how we acquire the data.

    Mike Yeager:
    We go up to a site, we gather large amounts of spacial data. We use a lot of different data acquisition techniques. We use scans from a drone, from a UAV. We use terrestrial laser scanning, which is a ground-based imaging technique. We use ground-penetrating radar to also spatially characterize everything below ground. We also have some 360 degree photography, which is sort of an ancillary output of the laser scan. I'm going to walk you through each one of these methods and how they work and what we get out of it. Let me frame this up really quick.

    Mike Yeager:
    What you're looking at is the output of a UAV scan. All these green dots you see are where a drone has acquired one single high resolution photograph. The flight of this drone is very, very prescribed. It's a very particular altitude, very particular percentage over overlap. All those parameters are designed. The drone is flown autonomously in a snaking pattern, periodically snapping these photographs. And then we use a technique called structure from motion, which is an image processing technique. And finding like-features in those images we can actually digitally reconstruct a 3D model of that site, which you'll see here in just a second. The photographs of the drone are above and there's a digital recreation. This is what is called a point cloud. It's exactly what it sounds like; it's a big cloud of points. Every point has a position and a color. That is the output of this drone scan.

    Mike Yeager:
    Every single one of these data acquisition methodologies has its own strength and weaknesses. This drone scan is very, very effective at capturing the terrain and the topology. And the other great thing about using the drone is that it is a very, very noninvasive data acquisition technique. We don't even need site access. We can just fly the drone from outside, which is great for a lot of the logistics. It's also very, very fast. All this data was acquired in probably 45 minutes and processed overnight to produce that model. But then we also want to supplement. The UAV scan is not as good as characterizing all the little nooks and crannies of the substation; all of the above ground components. So, we supplement that with terrestrial laser scanning.

    Mike Yeager:
    What you're seeing, all the circles that are flashing in and out, is where the laser scanner was positioned. And now you can see the output of that laser scan. It's very, very dense, very, very robust spacial model. And so, what we want to do is bring those two models together and that gives us a full spacial characterization of everything above ground. And again, as I mentioned, one of the ancillary outputs of the laser scan is just 360 photography, which is great. Everywhere you took a laser scan, you have this 360 photograph, which is very useful for being able to be there without being there, if you know what I mean.

    Mike Yeager:
    Lastly, we also want to know what's going on underground, and so we'll apply ground-penetrating radar. We'll procure the as-builts and reconcile the as-builts with what's going on from out ground-penetrating radar study. And then we model all of that into our model. Now we want to bring not just the above ground stuff but actually in our model have everything above ground but also everything below ground. So, all the utilities, all the sewer lines. You can kind of see how that fits into the model here. All the sewage lines coming out … or the storm water lines coming out of the site. So, we have this incredibly dense, incredibly robust model of everything. Everything above ground, everything below ground.

    Mike Yeager:
    And now what we want to do … We've acquired all these different data sets in different ways. We've done the drone scan, we've done the terrestrial laser scan, ground penetrating radar. Now we need to amalgamate that data. We need to fuse all of that data together and that is the data fusion process. In order to do that, we need to get everything on one coordinate system. We do that with traditional surveying. We have a handful of visual ground control points on a site. What that allows us to do is map all of these data sets to one singular coordinate system. And you'll see … Here, I want to just show you the output of what that looks like. It's a very, very [inaudible 00:04:58].

    Mike Yeager:
    You can see these are incredibly dense, incredibly realistic models and very importantly, they're very, very accurate. Every single nook and cranny of the site is spatially characterized. And now you have this ground truth digital twin as-built of your site. You can use this for all kinds of different things, which we're going to talk about here in a second. But again, it's hard to understate how important it is to be able to have this as a design canvas; this digital model that is an exact spacial replica of the site, both above ground and below.

    Mike Yeager:
    I'm going to skip over the data storage an come back to that. Let's look at some of the applications. Again, we do a lot of … We're one of the nation's leaders in SIT program implementations. We do a lot of design work and construction management work around those types of programs. But there's also a bunch of other applications for these kinds of models. I want to make sure we touch on all that. An obvious, low-hanging fruit is safety and training. You have this model, this exact digital replica, and what we can do is very, very simply put people in virtual reality to explore that model. Just imagine how powerful this is for new hires, for vendor on … Let's say you're going to have a contractor that's going to be out on site performing some work in a couple moths. You can actually put them in the site that they're going to be doing work on virtually. They can walk around, they can plan logistically how they're going to do things, they can get acquainted with all of the safety hazards on safe.

    Mike Yeager:
    Substations can be very, very dangerous places. Imagine new hires being able to explore a substation virtually, get acquainted with all the hazards, understand the dangers without actually being in harm's way on a substation. There's some very, very powerful safety and training benefits using these models. And again, there's nothing else to it. Once you have this model, then it's just as easy as putting somebody in there and building a training curriculum around it.

    Mike Yeager:
    We also work with utilities to develop an emergency scenario training type protocols where … Putting somebody in duress in an immersive environment, saying, “Hey, you have four minutes to go into the control room and route power from here to here,” and whatever. And the person being trained would go into that control room virtually and say, “Okay, I need to push this button, turn this knob, pull this lever.” And they can be scored on how well they did. Did they follow the appropriate protocols? Did they do things out of order? It's a very, very effective way to train. Rosetta Stone. Anybody know the language learning platform? They made a bagillion dollars because they just used the science that immersion is the best way to learn anything. That's the goal here, is to put people in an immersive environment virtually that allows them to be trained more effectively.

    Mike Yeager:
    Okay, so that's safety and training. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on operations and maintenance but I think that's fairly obvious. Being able to have this digital model that you can just open up and pull any dimension you want to on site. Again, these models are to a very high degree of engineering accuracy. We can pull any line height, anything you want to from the safety of your computer. You don't have to wrangle a bunch of people together to go do a site walk. When you're planning any operation and maintenance activity, this is a very, very useful tool.

    Mike Yeager:
    And then, jumping into security. Again, we do a lot of SIP, perimeter security hardening implementations. But even before you get there, just having this model in itself is of great value for physical security because its this virtual tabletop. Any physical security person will tell you how invaluable a tabletop model is. Historically, they're actual models on a tabletop with little miniature components. This is a virtual tabletop that allows security folks to fly around the model, zoom around, walk through it virtually.

    Mike Yeager:
    Being able to … A lot of … Imagine that you're going to have a new security protocol that's going to be rolled out fleet-wide. And it's important to understand how this security protocol is going to affect all of your different substations. Being able to pull … Maybe some of your substations are in very, very urban environments. Maybe some of them are way out in the sticks; very, very remote. And being able to pull them pull them up virtually without having to drive all the way out there, get everybody together for a big job-walk … virtually pull all these up in a conference room on a big TV, fly around, visualize, chat things through, make decisions. Even just having the model and exploring the model in and of itself is a very valuable physical security exercise.

    Mike Yeager:
    Really, where we, as a company, spend most of our time is using this model for design and construction activities. And again, we do a lot of this with perimeter security upgrades, modeling in the entire perimeter system. I'm going to start with the virtual … If we look … Here, I want to get you guys seeing … Again, what you have … What you're looking at is a 3D model of the substation; the existing conditions. And that's where you see the terrain, all the components over there on the left. But then on the right what you're seeing is a virtually constructed perimeter security system. Every component of the security system is virtually constructed and put into the model; the barrier system, access control, camera, intrusion detection. All of that stuff goes into the model.

    Mike Yeager:
    I don't know if any of you have a construction background, but we use what's traditionally called BIM; building information modeling. All of these virtually constructed elements have metadata attached to them. For every eight foot section of fence we can embed any kind of data we want into it, any kind of specs. But most importantly, all of the cost data. The installation costs, the material costs, the maintenance cost, especially when we're talking about some of the technology components. All of that data gets embedded into these virtually constructed elements and so when we have this virtually constructed security system, we have all of the costs associated with it. We have all the true life cycle costs. Not just the material costs, but the installation costs, the maintenance costs.

    Mike Yeager:
    Again, remember this is very, very early in the design phase. This is not built yet. This is virtually constructed. We can then conduct all of our design reviews virtually. And this has really revolutionized the way that this process happens. Before, it was this very serialized process where we'd get everybody together for a job walk, we'd go do the job walk. You got to get 20 people's calendars all synced up. And then when we do the design review, we just sit around a conference table with paper plans and just look at everything in 2D with highlighters marking stuff up. Well, now, as we're designing we can periodically get everybody together virtually from anywhere in the country, just hop on a Skype call or WebX or whatever, and conduct these walkthroughs virtually. You see what this looks like.

    Mike Yeager:
    We will virtually walk the site with the owner, with the security team, with the engineers and be able to address all these design issues in real-time virtually as we're going along. You'll see all the signage that we virtually stick up and that's where there's some different issues that we'll literally walk to that issue and everybody will look at that issue, address that issue in real-time. And again, we model also the interior of the control house, which is very, very important in being able to … Space is always … Real estate in these control houses is always such a premium, so being able to have this as-built model that then you're designing to and we can walk through and see where all these new components are going to go and whether they're going to be mounted on the walls and whatnot is very important.

    Mike Yeager:
    This virtual design review process has been … It's been very exciting. When we first rolled this out it was very … just a lot of silence on the other end when we were with our owners trying to figure it out. Like, not sure if I can trust this. But it's been very, very cool to see. Now, all of our design review sessions are these very, very interactive … You have people … And even the … Anybody can say at any moment in time, “Hey …” Again, this is a complete model of the site. We can say, “Hey, can we actually go to the south end and look from the east to the west? I want to see how this gate, ” and da, da, da, da, da. Being able to do all that stuff in real-time has been … has really revolutionized the way these designer meetings are run and conducted. And like I said, it's been very encouraging to see that now all of our clients are very, very engaged and interactive with this process, which is very exciting.

    Mike Yeager:
    As mentioned, we embed all of the cost data into this model and so as we build out the construction schedule, the sequencing schedule, we can run these simulations to give owners an idea of their cash burn rate, which is a very, very important metric from an accounting perspective; to be able to track cash through the sequencing of construction. It's also a very, very accountability tool where you can say to your contractor, “Hey, Mr. GC, this is where I'm supposed to be today and that's not where I am. How do we get caught back up?

    Mike Yeager:
    Specifically around security from a technology design perspective, one of the other very powerful things is because we have this as-built model we can virtually assume camera views and see what cameras are going to see before they're installed. We're going to go down to this camera here in the southeast corner. And again, this is part of our design review process. We're just on a Skype call with the security professional for the owner and he says, “Hey, I would really like to see a little bit more of the interior of the yard, a little bit more of the exterior of the yard.” And we can just literally move that camera virtually in real-time until he says, “Right there. That's what I want to see.”

    Mike Yeager:
    Now we have all of the installation parameters for that camera; the height, the down-tilt angle, the azimuth angle, focal length, all of those specs perfectly dialed in so that when it goes out into the field to be installed there's no guesswork. You have cameras that are going to get installed and see exactly what you want them to see.

    Mike Yeager:
    This is probably the most important slide is … This is just a better way to do it. We rolled this out with several major utilities in the United States and seen some really, really great results. What we've done is we've taken what was traditionally up at the top a very, very serialized process. First this, then this, then this, then this and if something messes up, crap, we got to go back to step two and keep running through it all over again. Using this technology, we've de-serialized this process and sped it up tremendously. It's hard to understate how powerful being able to just visualize things is; being able to see it where you're not looking at paper plans.

    Mike Yeager:
    This has, for our clients, decreased their design timelines by about 30%. And time is money, so it's also decreased their design costs by 30%. And because this is a better way to design, it's also a better way to build and so it's decreasing the installation costs by eight to 10%. Massive savings. One of our clients in the Midwest is a billion dollar SIT program and it saved them … doing it this way has saved them 236 million dollars, so a lot of cost savings. Very, very inspective way to do things.

    Mike Yeager:
    What we are encouraging is … Again, as you can see, these models have a tremendous value outside of just the perimeter security upgrade. We are encouraging the utilities to use your SIT program, use your facility enhancement program as a reason to acquire all of this data. Because again, we and other designers will use this data for designing the system but then you have it. You have this exact digital representation of your site onward and forevermore and so we're really encouraging utilities using their SIT program as a mechanism to acquire this data, use this data and begin to virtualize their substation.

    Mike Yeager:
    Lastly, I want to go back to what I skipped over; to storing this data and disseminating this data. This is very important. One of the great tragedies is using all of this data … You can see just how robust and awesome these models are and they're being used for a very specific thing. They're being used for this design program for the facility enhancement or for security upgrades or whatever the case may be. And then it just dies. It served its purpose and the data is no more. Traditionally, as you can imagine, these data sets are very, very big. They're very, very heavy and so utilities don't have, traditionally, super computers with supped up graphics cards and technicians who know how to work with these kind of data sets. So, being able to disseminate this data and make it useful ongoing and forevermore is something that's just not really happening.

    Mike Yeager:
    We wanted to solve that problem and so we have a software platform called Site Spy. That's a web-based viewing portal for these kinds of data sets. It requires no special … no technicians, no software geeks, no supercomputer. You can just open up Google Chrome on your Dell laptop and explore these data sets. This shows you what it looks like. Just imagine having all of your critical assets, all your substations in one place, being able to search them, sort them and find a particular one that you want and jump into all of the data that was acquired. This is the 2D aerial photography from the drone that can be explored kind of like Google Maps but it's very, very, very high fidelity. You can zoom in and see a Doritos bag on the ground if it was there at the time of acquisition.

    Mike Yeager:
    Again, this is an engineering map and so we can do takeoffs on the fly, make notes and quick little notes to colleagues. You can also digitize and overlay all of your engineering drawings. This is a way to centralize and digitize all of your plan sets so you don't have all these paper as-builts rolled up in the closet. Everything is in one place, digitized and able to be shared and disseminated. And then, most importantly, being able to explore this 3D data in a really, really meaningful way. This software application allows anybody … You don't have to be an engineer with a supercomputer, just on your Dell laptop be able to hop in and explore, pull measurements, fly around, visual, discuss. Being able to pull this up on a big screen TV in a conference room and just talk through an upcoming maintenance activity.

    Mike Yeager:
    Anyway, the goal, again, is to get the most life out of this data as possible. Storing this data and disseminating it is just as important as acquiring it and using it for whatever the original task was. That's it. I'm going to be around all day and I've got some business cards out on the registration desk, but I look forward to meeting some of you later on and thank you for your time. Any questions?

    Speaker 2:
    I wanted to ask you how you virtualize the equipment inside the substation control house?

    Mike Yeager:
    Sure.

    Speaker 2:
    And is it accurate to-

    Mike Yeager:
    Yes.

    Speaker 2:
    -make model?

    Mike Yeager:
    Yeah, exactly. That's also done with terrestrial laser scanning and so yes, it is highly accurate. And every little knob and switch of the control panel is captured so we can … The other important thing is that there's different levels of detail that we can do. If we just laser scan you have this highly accurate model but there's not a lot we can do with it as far as interacting. But we can also go as far as actually modeling out all of those control panels if need be; if we're going to do virtual scenario-type training programs. Yeah, the control rooms are all originally acquired by the laser scanner and then we can choose to make that up and model it out if we want to.

    Speaker 2:
    In terms of handling configuration management … Okay, it looked like that today but in six months it's not going to look like that …

    Mike Yeager:
    Sure.

    Speaker 2:
    … How do you … Is there another-

    Mike Yeager:
    Yes.

    Speaker 2:
    -fly around-

    Mike Yeager:
    Right, right, right.

    Speaker 2:
    -that you can do to clean it up?

    Mike Yeager:
    That's a great question. Yeah, that's an obvious … That's a great point. Substations change, so we have this exact snapshot of the geometry of the site right now, today, but yeah, what if you add a transformer? What if some kind of expansion … The good thing about having all of this mapped originally to one coordinate system is that any other spacial models are just plugged and played. Let's say on the southeast corner of a substation we've just done some changes. Okay, well we want to make sure we get that into our model. Instead of having to start over and do ground penetrating radar all over again, fly the drone again, do the laser scanning everywhere, we can just deploy the laser scanner right there, fly the drone right there and that all gets mapped to the exact same coordinate space. Great question. That's a really great point.

    Mike Yeager:
    Anybody else? All right. Cool. Thank you guys so much for your time.

     

    Digital twin examples / Virtual Twin Examples

    Power Sub Station Digital Twin / Virtual Twin 

    Digital Twin Technology - Power Sub Station

    United Center Virtual Twin 

    Virtual Twin - United Center

    History of Virtual Twins around the world

    The history of virtual twins  started in the early days of space exploration, NASA used a form of a digital twin in order to operate, maintain, or repair a system that was not within close proximity of all the engineers.  They used a precursor of today’s digital twin back in the early days of exploration was never more necessary during the Apollo 13 mission.  Apollo 13 was meant to land on the moon back in April 1970 but two days into the mission an oxygen tank failed forcing the crew to shut down and conserve its remaining  resources. As they waited for a solution, they circled the moon. Meanwhile, engineers and astronauts back on earth used the first forms of a virtual twin to solve how to bring the crew back home alive with the limited power and water using real time data.  The virtual twin on earth, mirrored that  of the Apollo 13 mission navigating through space.  Using the virtual twin, they were able to determine how the crew could be rescued.The success of bringing the Apollo 13 crew back to earth alive is a testament to how a virtual twin is  a necessary technology tool. Today, NASA continues to use digital twins to develop recommendations and roadmaps. 

    The incorporation of data and use of digital twins is essential in many fields today.   In the medical field, surgeons and healthcare professionals can practice procedures on simulated patients or organs before operating on a human patient.

    Real Time Data and digital twins

    The use of a virtual twin is indispensable when use of real time data is used.  The country of Singapore has created “Virtual Singapore” offering a 3D semantic model with data related to the real world. It displays land, transportation, building attributes, incorporating real time data of crowds, climate, and traffic.  This tool can help improve accessibility to specific areas, simulate emergency situations, and establish evacuation protocols.  They are also using it to design and visualize various options for future roads, bridges, and buildings to see how well it would be integrated into an area allowing for transportation, commercial use and housing.  Singapore's virtual twin gives public and private sectors, researchers, architects, engineers use of the platform. It can only improve the quality of life.

    Other benefits of real time data in virtual twins are also used in Formula 1 racing. Use of real-time data can help the driver and cars’ team know what adjustments need to be made to improve performance.  Digital twins use oil fields and refineries, utilities, and manufacturing can only optimize operations and maintenance.

    Troubleshooting with digital twin technology

     vScenario excels in their use of virtual twin technology. Their patent pending virtual technology application delivers the platform where the building program functionality and execution plans are tested through virtual scenarios prior to construction.  Digital twins are used to develop the building design, aid in structural and civil engineering and run calculations on civil work. Use of a digital twin

    • Digital twins are revolutionizing the healthcare system.
    • Digital twins have grown to foresee any potential problems in the future with testing, re-configuring, and enhancing a building or landscape.

    Digital Twin Software

    There are multiple vendors of digital twin software. here are a list of several of the more popular solutions.

    1. Ansys Twin Builder
    2. Autodesk Digital Twin
    3. Bosch IoT Suite
    4. Fluctura Decsition Science
    5. Scaleout Digital Twin

    Digital Twin Applications

    Digital Twins can be used in a variety of scenarios:

    1. Design
    2. System Integrations
    3. Diagnostics
    4. Prediction
    5. Advanced Services

    Virtual Twin / Digital Twin Frequently Asked Questions

    What is a digital twin?

    A digital twin is a digital representation of a physical object or process that can be used for various purposes, and is a virtual model that reflects physical objects and processes throughout their life cycle. Internet of Things (Internet of Things) devices and provide digital representations for them to operate and live.

    There are no generally accepted definitions, but the technology behind digital twins has expanded to a wide range of applications, from data science to data analysis to production. To further develop the concept, we can say that all people and processes can have a digital twin that further expands this concept. Although many definitions of a “digital twin” already exist, a quick look at some of the companies offering Digital Twin technology shows the breadth of opportunities available to professionals in the digital twin space

    Why do we need a digital twin?

    The digital twin replicates status and behavior by sharing and integrating information about the current state of the product or service, as well as its performance and maintenance. Companies can use digital twins to analyze and monitor data, to prevent problems before they occur, to avoid downtime, and even to simulate future circumstances or events. Digital twins use cases are testing and simulation of product designs that meet the requirements, showing how changes in manufacturing processes can affect costs and schedules, or how service personnel can perform maintenance in the present

    How much does a digital twin cost to produce?

    The threshold cost of setting up a digital twin is estimated at around $50,000, and the use of digital twins saves companies 20-30% of development costs on average, making it a high-tech system that would conventionally cost twice as much to implement as a traditional production system.