Leading institutions working with digital twins in the manufacturing, tech and built environment sectors have published a paper arguing for a common strategic language and direction and setting out how this could be achieved.
The manufacturing and built environment sectors are developing digital twins separately using different language and business models, yet many of our challenges, such as net zero, are common and require us to work together. The Apollo Protocol will create a common framework for developing digital twins so that each sector can unlock their potential and deliver on strategic goals and wider government initiatives.
One of the principal initiatives being developed across industry and supported by government is digital twins1. In simple terms, a digital twin is a virtual representation that serves as the real-time digital counterpart of a physical object or process. Digital twins offer benefits in a wide range of applications, and as a result, many industries are developing standards and definitions.
The paper argues for the creation of the Apollo Forum to explore four key themes which the manufacturing and built environment sectors share, developing solutions and encouraging cross-sector learning. The forum will then produce the Apollo Protocol, a framework to enable communication across sectors for people working on digital twins.
The forum will operate under collaborative principles, working with other initiatives under vendor-neutral governance and openness. Learnings from the forum will be available for use in any cross-sector initiative.
The focus of the paper is:
- connecting the manufacturing and built environment sectors, although is applicable between any two sectors (rather than generally promoting digital twins)
- on practical application not theory – creating a space where practical learning can be done between digital twin users and enthusiasts of different sectors, and practical solutions can be developed
- open collaborative working and publishing
- the paper describes how DTs are developing and suggestions to work together to fulfil wider policy objectives decarbonisation requires upstream value chain.
It argues for the creation of the Apollo Forum to explore four key themes which the manufacturing and built environment sectors share, developing solutions and encouraging cross-sector learning.
A unified cross sector approach to digital twins will enable the manufacturing and built environment sectors to learn from each other’s experience and work towards:
- A single value chain for information and data services and requirements, enabling a new paradigm for policy makers responsible across the lifecycle of product life cycles
- Circular supply chains through the alignment of standards and processes, turning the built environment sector's waste and latent material into a resource for the manufacturing sector through effective, integrated digitisation
- Optimised performance throughout the product lifecycle, enabled through robust and interoperable data with technology enabled information sharing
- Managed human capital between the sectors to ensure resources are optimally utilised and have the right learning and reskilling environments for achieving the above themes.
The paper, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, is a collaboration between and was authored by representatives from:
- Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Built Environment Panel
- Construction Leadership Council (CLC)
- University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC)
- Digital Twin Hub (supported by the Connected Places Catapult)
- Cambridge Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB)
- High Value Manufacturing Catapult
- The Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence
- IBM Consulting
- Atkins Global (facilitation)
- Just Practising Limited (project management)
In addition, the paper has been endorsed by:
· Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
 Recent documents outlining the progression in each of the three sectors:
The Gemini Principles, Cambridge Centre for Digital Built Britain, 2018 https://www.cdbb.cam.ac.uk/news/2018GeminiPrinciples
Digital twins for the built environment, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, 2019
Our vision for the built environment, Construction Innovation Hub, 2021
Untangling the requirements of a digital twin, HVMC/AMRC, 2021
Unlocking value across the UK’s digital twin ecosystem, techUK, 2021