How a Formula 1 mindset can revolutionise digital twins in construction
Complementing BIM with digital twinning is an F1-inspired approach that can significantly improve the potential of construction projects. It requires a certain discipline, explains Patrick Lane-Nott, director of engineering at hyperTunnel
The construction industry lags somewhat behind automotive, motorsport and aerospace when it comes to digital twins. While we see some of the big technology players using digital twins in smart infrastructure and maintenance, in infrastructure design where there is most potential, contractors are still largely building to drawings manually, with no other input. Even where plans are detailed, they are interpreted differently and people tend to take a specific known method anyway, regardless of the model.
My own professional experience includes nearly 20 years in top-level motorsport, with time spent at Williams F1, Lotus F1, and most recently with McLaren Applied Technologies. I have spent many years working with the most advanced race car simulations, building digital twins for vehicle development and race strategy. In Formula 1, just as it should be in construction, absolutely everything you do has to come from the digital twin. In safety-critical environments, there is simply no room for personal judgement. To get the best from a digital twin requires effort and dedication to the cause, but ultimately you reap the rewards of your hard work.
Digital twins serve multiple purposes
It is important to understand that motor racing isn’t only about speed. One of the sport’s favourite sayings is, “To finish first, first you have to finish.” This acknowledges the fact that speed is ultimately meaningless unless it’s complemented by safety and reliability, two virtues essential in construction. Success in F1 also depends on other factors of importance in construction. I’ll share a few examples.
Creating an F1 car’s digital twin entails bringing together numerous digital twins, each representing a discrete section of the vehicle, such as the engine, chassis and bodywork, and each usually developed by a different department or supplier. The processes necessary to ensure flawless coordination between these various parties are transferable to construction, so that the building, tunnel or structure’s digital twin can be formed seamlessly, avoiding the oversights and mismatches which too often waste time and money on-site.