Paul Wallett, Regional Director, Trimble Solutions, India, and Middle East shares the company’s sustainability journey and why digital twins concept offers opportunities in the construction sector
Global construction technology provider Trimble literally touches almost every industry, from construction to forestry to agriculture to transportation, with products that connect the physical and digital worlds. It reported US$3.66 Billion in revenues for 2021.
Paul Wallett, Regional Director, Trimble Solutions, India, and Middle East in an interaction with ET Insights shares the company’s sustainability journey and why digital twins concept offers opportunities in the construction sector.
Q. Business have started taking steps and rethinking their business model through the lens of sustainability and climate change. How have you been looking to decarbonize your business. What has been your sustainability story?
We have set Science Based Targets, including utilizing 100% renewable energy sources to strive toward a net-zero future. We report to CDP with a complete inventory of our Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 emissions. While it is one thing to have these goals written down, it is essential that we walk the talk as well.
For instance, our headquarters in Westminster, Colorado meets the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold-certification. It has been designed to achieve energy costs savings and reduce overall environmental impact. We were able to improve efficiencies across the entire building lifecycle. Our contractors, architects, designers, etc. made use of Trimble solutions for the planning, construction, and operational phases of this facility.
The site excavation was completed in under four weeks and was 30% faster than anticipated. Apart from conserving time, there were huge savings on fuel cost. The actual structural drawings, reviews, and deliveries were 33% faster than other comparable office solutions. We were able to reduce the ‘request for further information’ because of the accuracy that we were able to achieve.
Our office in Finland is another example of sustainable construction. The building was built on time and on budget, showcasing many ways that our solutions helped to lower carbon footprint of the built environment. The heating and cooling of this office was done by Finland’s state-owned energy company Fortum. A special low temperature network was created. This network produces heat by consuming less power at a lower temperature by using electricity. The unique thins here is that it does not emit any CO2.
Closer home, our Chennai office has a rainwater harvesting system and an onsite wastewater treatment and recycling system for sustainable water management. In addition, the office utilizes solar-powered lighting, together with other energy efficiency measures for sustainable energy management.
Q. Digital Twin has been introduced in the industry as a concept that holds the promise to challenge the status-quo and address many long-standing problems, especially in the areas of productivity, and efficiency. What are the pain points that the Digital Twins can assist to address in the construction industry?
Construction projects are built on reams of data. This data is generated from myriad sources throughout the construction project lifecycle. A digital twin or what I call as data twin is an exact digital replica of a construction asset. This can either be a building or a bridge, an airport or even an entire city.
We can create a data twin by gathering and combining real-world data about a building or any structure using technologies such as 3D laser scanners, sensors, cameras, etc. Technologies like AI and IoT can be used to support the data twin model by allowing it to learn from multiple sources and then automatically update itself as its real-world entity changes.
Q. Construction is one of the riskiest professions out there. Using Digital Twin, can the total amount of life-threatening scenarios decrease in the construction sector?
There is a lot of scope of using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in detecting the risk areas or risk factors for workers on the actual construction site. For example, there are some areas on a site that are overpopulated by teams, or at times there is need to mark an area where a machine equipment cannot reach due to various limitations.
The role of digital twins in such instances to de-risk can prove to be lifesaving. We have also been using automation to shift tasks that are in high-risk areas. With automation, we move the person out of that scenario and use a robot instead to carry out a high-risk task.
Q. Despite the benefits, challenges have slowed widespread adoption of the digital twin technology. What are some of the challenges specific to construction?
Not getting the “twin truth” is a challenge. One needs to create an ecosystem for the digital twin partners.
Real-time data always trumps static data. Digital twin is all about this integration of real-time data. However, if you don’t have the right data, you can’t connect it properly with IoT devices.
Having a cloud-based access for digital twin is important. Lack of connectivity is a major concern as many times the sites are in remote areas.