by Luc Ponsioen
April 15, 2020
In these uncertain times of Corona, social distancing and working from home, one sees how well today’s office staff are actually equipped for ‘not at the office’ work. Meetings actually run pretty smoothly thanks to software like Teams or Skype, while we can easily work on documents using SharePoint for instance. In any event, we’re inseparable from our smartphones, so we’re constantly connected with the rest of the world. All you need is a laptop, an internet connection, a telephone, and, presto: you’ve got an office at home! Nice developments, but unfortunately such adjustments don’t do the trick for everyone. If you work every day with or on a large structure, then doing your work at home is suddenly a bit more complicated. A dike or a storm surge barrier is difficult to take home with you; so, you’ve quickly got a problem. Wouldn’t it be great if this problem could also be solved?
This is where the concept of the Digital Twin comes in. This digital replica of the real structure allows us to first test work activities on the structure digitally, before actually conducting them in the field. By means of specifically developed software, and carefully placed sensors in the structure, the Digital Twin ensures a connection with all of the manager’s existing systems. Data are visualised and transformed through special processes into decision-supporting information. In this way, not only can work activities be tested before they are conducted in practice, but a Digital Twin also provides managers with an information platform with an alarm capability. Although the system is already commonly employed in numerous industries, it has yet to gain a foothold in the world of hydraulic engineering. This is remarkable, after all a Digital Twin could support, facilitate and improve our work in many areas. With a Digital Twin a manager can not only (digitally) take home the structure that he or she controls, but the system also supports work activities in the field. The manager is able from home to stress-test a structure – such as a storm surge barrier – against changing future storm conditions. How cool is that for a manager?! Thanks to Augmented Reality, it is also possible to easily visualise data on a portable device in the field. The manager can thus always be aware of the structure’s status and of what is happening. The structure is rendered more transparent, which helps in making choices.
I am convinced that the Digital Twin will become the new standard in the hydraulic engineering sector. And I’m not talking about the distant future. If we just look around us at what is happening in other sectors, we are on the eve of a new digital age in hydraulic engineering. I am confident that the Digital Twin is going to help us to the point where, ten years from now, we won’t want to do without it. At Dareius we are also working on the development of a Digital Twin for storm surge barriers. Wonderful, exciting times lie ahead!
If you would like to know more, or if you have an own idea for a Digital Twin, please be sure to contact me.