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Digital Twin and Simulation Technology for Road Managers

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Road engineering is characterised by a high need for linked motorways, highways, drainage systems, gantries, and signage. As the supply and demand gap continues to widen, urban transportation issues have become incredibly complicated. In recent years, traffic congestion has become much more diverse. As a consequence, there is a greater need for networked road infrastructure.

Furthermore, building an urban road project will significantly influence the surrounding road network, resulting in additional traffic congestion. Road building and highway asset management are generally reactive rather than anticipating and reacting to prospective dangers when faced with new challenges.

To address these challenges and overcome the constraints of conventional models, digital twin and simulation, two new and more popular technologies for modelling road construction, are gaining popularity.

What Are Digital Twin and Simulation Technologies?

A digital twin has been an accurate virtual representation of a materialistic process, product or device. This perfect union of digital and physical worlds allows analysis of data and monitoring systems to prevent problems, create opportunities and even plan for the future by using simulations. Experiences gained and opportunities created within the digital environment can be applied to the physical world, ultimately transforming the company or the industry. These applications can use the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and software analytics to improve the output. For example, by using digital twin technology, road managers may make safe forecasts about how often the new subterranean roads will have to be replaced in order to maintain the security of the new road system.

Simulation technology is a process that involves analysing the possible result of a given situation based on known circumstances and the introduction of one or more variables that can influence that outcome by using computer software and hardware. The notion behind the creation of the simulation is to minimise the emergence of an undesirable effect while also discovering factors that can bring a positive influence. For instance, some roads are vulnerable to high temperatures, extreme weather conditions. With simulation, road managers determine the best engineering practices, such as a mix of materials that need to be used to construct roads that withstand severe weather conditions and deploy the low-risk option.

What are The Common Challenges of Road Management?

Road management is a systematic process of maintaining, upgrading and operating assets, combining engineering principles with sound business practice and economic rationale and therefore involves a lot of time, effort, costs and stress.
Traffic congestion
Traffic congestion is the cause of distress for many city residents daily. Managers have tried for decades to minimise congestion by adding new freeway lanes and expanding the road systems, which has not been successful.
Increased Maintenance cost
When faced with problems like un-level or unstable ground, road managers face high repair costs since the cost for traditional methods of remediating subsidence and settlement tend to be quite expensive.
Increased accidents
When roads need repair, the risk of accidents and other safety issues widens to worrying levels. The most severe problems caused by foundation ground deterioration are urgently required for a sustainable solution.
Pre-construction issues
New construction requirements arise due to frequent necessities for highway expansions. But since no proper records exist of the underground utilities like water supply, sewerage lines, cables, etc., these utilities get identified as encumbrance only during the implementation stage of the construction project, whose shifting then involves a very costly process.

How Can Digital Twin And Simulation Technology Benefit Road Managers?

Powered by the data fed from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the digital twin enables the beneficial use of a connected and rich database of road information that has been developed through all stages from design to construction and extends to operation and maintenance.

A digital twin powered by simulation (4D Digital Twin Environment) of road infrastructure includes the condition of structures and roads. This information can be analysed for planning purposes. For instance, a low utilisation rate might indicate something wrong, while a high rate may indicate the need for expansion. It is significant for a road manager to have continual access to the surface index and pavement index of the roads in order to monitor the conditional and structural health of the infrastructure since digital twins and simulation provide event-driven insights (of hypothetical or impending events) into these parameters.

Budget-Friendly Asset Management
Surface and pavement condition indexes are critical to monitor the condition and surface of the roads, identify maintenance and rehabilitation requirements and also ensure that the road maintenance budgets are spent wisely. With digital twins, these data can be easily captured from disparate data sources.
Improves the Health of The Roads
In addition, digital twin enables simulation of current asset conditions, remaining usable asset lives, and end-to-end parameters that must be closely overseen using powerful virtual mockup models of roads, bridges, walkways, culverts, etc. This unified view of data-driven expertise and domain knowledge will help road managers to obtain more accurate predictions about maintenance. With the help of sensor data and computation, this digital twin can propose proactive, predictive maintenance strategies, which could improve the structural health of the road infrastructure, improve traffic flow, and ensure passenger safety.
Helps to Reduce Hazardous Incidents

The digital twin is also capable of predicting maintenance issues such as potholes, longitudinal (Linear) cracking, block cracking, etc. Their information gives the potential for quicker and easier construction. For instance, it reveals where other utilities like pipes and cables are, which reduces the costs and time spent on investigations. This also enhances safety because the constructors can better understand the system. The digital twin also enables road infrastructure’s resilient operation.

Construction is usually one of the most hazardous industries globally, and worker safety must improve over time. This technology allows workers in dangerous zones to be tracked in real-time, stopping them from performing hazardous procedures or utilising hazardous products.

Saves Delivery Time

Through automation and coordination, digital twin and simulation technology can cut costs and project delivery time during the design and construction phases. Building information modelling, for example, allows stakeholders to share information and coordinate operations across teams to improve the design and construction process.

Simulation technology improves the digital twin model by simulating asset conditions and behaviours in various scenarios. Transportation infrastructure managers can easily modify data scales to learn how assets react in multiple designs and track how the asset changes due to these occurrences.

The Usefulness of Digital Twin And Stimulations Technologies

The technology of the digital twin has progressed from concept to reality in recent years due to its endless list of advantages. Implementing a digital twin will not be an overnight process as it will bring a complete transformation to the company. A digital twin can also be as complex or as simple as you may want it to be, depending on the quantity of data collected to decide how well the model matches the real-world simulation.

Depending on the different amounts of data used to determine how accurately the model simulates the real-world situation. Massive digitisation and capacity expansion should be followed to address the associated challenges and enter the world of this fascinating and limitlessly beneficial technological trend. Digital twin and simulation technology, one of the fastest-growing technical concepts of the modern world, reduces operational costs, increases productivity, improves performance, and changes predictive maintenance. The road managers who adopt these technologies experience extraordinary possibilities throughout their responsibilities and goals.

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