Innovative Technologies Improve Construction Industry’s Efficiency

June 25, 2020

An international research group whose partners include Professor Rafael Sacks of Technion Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering has been awarded a €6 million grant from the European Union’s European Research Council as part of the Horizon 2020 program.

The grant will help the consortium, called BIM2TWIN, upgrade the construction industry by adapting innovative technologies from the worlds of high tech and manufacturing, and to develop a new concept for managing the building process: “Digital Building Twin.”

Prof. Sacks, the consortium’s scientific and technical director, explained, “the Digital Building Twin concept relates to the management of the construction process, including the planning, monitoring, and control stages, using parallel digital representation of the physical building and of the building process, at two levels – planning and execution.

A “digital twin” is produced for each object or process. The twin objects represent both the planned future (the Building Information Modeling and planned execution) and the past “as-built” (using on-site sensors, laser scanners, digital imaging, and machine vision to determine production status, including flows in offsite supply chains). Digital twins combine information on what has already been built with what is being planned, thereby enabling analyses, simulations, and other evaluations. The results inform decision-making about physical design, planning, and production management, in a Plan-Do-Check-Act mode of construction.”

The Digital Building Twin concept is based on Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology, which provides digital representation for both physical and abstract objects related to construction. In addition, it shows the project as it is actually executed (including physical infrastructure and human resources, relationships, management units, and various actions), thereby providing a sophisticated image of all aspects connected to the project. This model gives the users effective tools for:

  • Monitoring the project’s progress, warning about delays and problems, and comparing its actual progress to the plans.
  • Optimizing the flow of materials, workers, equipment, information, and space throughout the production process based on the actual situation at any given time. This results in reduced waste of human resources, money, and time (shorter building time), and real time predictions of the need for additional resources.
  • Improving safety and preventing accidents. Since the digital twin shows a virtual display of equipment and workers, it can help managers predict life-threatening situations in advance and prevent them from occurring, as well as warning workers about dangers in real time.

The winning team is comprised of 17 members, including the Technion; University of Cambridge and other European universities; technology companies Siemens and Orange; five leading construction companies from France, Spain, Italy, and Finland; and the Israeli construction tech startup Intsite. The French Scientific and Technical Center for Building (CSTB) will head the consortium. The research at the Technion will take place in Prof. Sacks’ Seskin Virtual Construction Laboratory in the National Building Research Institute.

Prof. Sacks is an expert in Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Lean Construction. He received a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering in South Africa, a Masters in Structural Engineering from MIT and a PhD from Technion’s Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He joined the Technion’s faculty in 2000 and today he is also a visiting professor at the University of Cambridge.

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