Written by our Consultant Vincent Wauterickx

You’ve probably already heard of Digital Twins. It’s a new buzzword that’s frequently thrown around to emphasize one of the strategic goals of a company during their digital transformation. But how does this really translate to a sector like the infrastructure industry? What are its benefits, and more importantly, what are the roadblocks ahead?

Digital Twins are virtual representations of assets updated with real-time data. This last part is key to a Digital Twin. If you’re not using real-time data, you can’t label something as a Digital Twin. This means that the use of a Digital Twin enables a company to monitor the data of their dispersed assets in one spot/location without the need of being onsite. Another advantage of a Digital Twin is the possibility to build the virtual representation of an asset before building the actual asset. This allows for virtual R&D and leads to insights that help companies towards product refinements and improvements before physical production and/or construction starts.

In our experience within the infrastructure industry, we see that companies are running behind when it comes to their digitalization. Before they can focus on their digital transformation, and start implementing Digital Twins, it is imperative that the assets and the asset information are digitalized and stored on a suitable Asset Management System (AMS).

The most prominent method to digitalize asset information in the infrastructure industry is called BIM. BIM is a working method and is actually comprised out of 3 different topics. It’s an acronym for:

  • Building Information Model: the digital representation (2D or 3D) of all the assets within a project with asset information linked to it. The most standardized datamodel for asset information used throughout Flanders for BIM is OTL (ObjectTypeLibrary) and is maintained thanks to following the OSLO (Open Standaarden voor Linkende Organisaties) track.
  • Building Information Modeling: the process of sharing information between project partners through a digital application with the major objectives being: improving project quality, structuring data, keeping overview and reducing failure costs.
  • Building Information Management: managing and (re-)using asset information throughout the whole lifecycle of an asset with a maximum amount of information. In a general sense it is better known as Asset Management.

The benefits of applying BIM in infrastructure projects can easily be deduced from the explanation of the 3 topics. Better collaboration, good overview, early detection of design flaws, uniform asset information, improved project quality, ….

In our experience, we recommend companies active in the infrastructure industry and wanting to implement Digital Twins to first focus on digitalization of their assets by implementing BIM as a working method.  This will create a strong foundation that will allow them to more easily integrate future digital transformations within the company. One example can be adding real-time data from sensors within your BIM-model. By continuously adding data and details to the BIM model, it will eventually evolve into a full-fledged Digital Twin.

For more information about Digital Twins and Building Information Management reach out to our team.

Contact Yannick Corthals our Account Manager Public

Contact Yannick




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