Digital Twins

Over this past year or so, an increasing number of conversations with Rail and Infrastructure Clients have been around Digital Engineering, and in particular, Digital Twins (a Digital Twin is a digital representation of a physical asset, process, or system, as well as the engineering information that enables organisations to understand and model its performance). This focus is due to the potential technology has to improve design, increase asset reliability, and ultimately, the performance of assets. However, given Rail is a very traditional and safety-sensitive industry now operating on tighter budgets/shorter deadlines/increased legislation; change and the adoption of this new technology can be slow and challenging.

We all know that Rail, at times, can struggle to truly embrace change because of the ‘potential risks’ associated with moving away from tried and tested methods. However, due to Rail being highly complex from a networks and systems perspective, technology can provide the opportunity to innovate and change the way rail networks operate. With many of our Clients starting to recognise the potential, they have begun to explore the opportunities which Digital Twins could provide. These range from big data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning throughout the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of their rail and more broadly transport networks.

In light of this we are helping a number of Clients to better understand Digital Engineering and Digital Twins. Once a project is completed, our Clients are taking this newly gleaned insight and using it to develop robust strategies around Digital Engineering. They can also better understand what new hires and specific skill sets they will need to take full advantage of the benefits it can bring. Once we have completed such insight projects, our Clients start to think of Digital Engineering information as the “digital DNA” of their infrastructure assets. And just like doctors analyse DNA to predict health issues and provide care for better health outcomes, they now see by analysing their Digital DNA, they will enable collaboration, improve decision making, and deliver better project outcomes. From a Rail perspective there is recognition that they will also be able to personalise maintenance, maximise reliability, and improve the performance of their physical assets.

If you would like to confidentially discuss how Norman Broadbent could help you overcome your business or people challenges, please contact Nick Behan on +44 (0) 0207 484 0106 or via