Understanding the digital twin values and requirements for a particular industry is key to impactful implementation and deployment. Large rail projects are characterised by complexity and a need for integrating operational efficiency requirements. Multiple stakeholders, balancing project delivery and daily operations, and constantly evolving technology can lead to unforeseen challenges. Engineering, procurement, and construction partners must do all we can to help customers achieve the highest possible degree of certainty with a clear focus on their priorities.
Accelerating progress with digital twins: An opportunity
Innovate UK, together with Department for Transportation (DfT), recognise the need to accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies to deliver more for less on complex public infrastructure programmes. Earlier this year, they launched a funding competition providing the rail industry an opportunity to show how innovative thinking can and will drive huge improvements and better social outcomes on megaprojects.
As part of this competition, Bechtel proposed to work with the High Speed 2 rail team to establish the requirements for an end-to-end digital twin for the rail industry that could be used as a baseline standard – in the UK and around the world. High Speed 2 is a state-of-the-art rail line being built in the UK that will provide much-needed rail capacity across the country, specifically in the North and Midlands.
How digital twins can help improve the customer experience and set new standards for the rail industry
Developing requirements for a digital twin for the rail industry, from early planning through operations and maintenance, can result in significant benefits – including increasing efficiency in the management, maintenance and operations of assets, reducing repair costs, and positively impacting customer experience. High Speed 2 believes this competition proposal has great potential to support their project as well as contribute a broader value to the rail industry.
The interconnected nature of the digital twin capability bridges the requirements management, geographic information systems, and project information model elements defined throughout the project delivery stages, with the operational control and communication systems, sensors, cyber, and asset performance management components. Adding rich and intuitive visualizations, training, and simulation capabilities, empowered by artificial intelligence and analytics, provide a unique and integrated digital twin customer experience.
This new, integrated digital twin capability would continue to mature to help tackle operational scenarios and value proposition assumptions on future projects. Real-time status and accurate predictive operation and maintenance information will support better decision-making. It will also allow rail owners to focus on the simple outcomes that best serve their commuters and communities: operational efficiencies, passenger comfort and the environment.