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New digital twins project looks at language barriers

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), together with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) as a partner in the Construction Innovation Hub, techUK and supported by the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, have launched the ‘Apollo Protocol’ with the aim of helping different industries to communicate more effectively, reducing silos and improving co-ordination for more collaborative and sustainable outcomes.

At present, the manufacturing and built environment sectors are developing their concepts of digital twins separately. The Protocol is to investigate the language barriers between the digital twins of different sectors and to develop recommendations to increase the interoperability between sectors.

Rick Hartwig, IET Built Environment Lead, said: “Digital Twins offer huge benefits for society but only a coordinated approach to the language used will allow those benefits to be realised.

“There are many steps to improving information management – from the manufacturers and their product information and frameworks, to technology companies producing in the Digital Twin space who need the availability of data to construct models.

“It goes much further than just the manufacturing, built environment and technology industries - policymakers will only meet their sustainability goals if they can provide clarity during procurement for the market to respond effectively, so it will take a whole system approach.”

Professor Rab Scott, Head of Digital at the AMRC, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, said: “We have built a unique team that brings together the manufacturing, technology and built environment sectors together in a way never seen before. We want to ensure our sectors are being proactive in meeting the challenges ahead of us in terms of climate change and ensuring the resilience of products that operate in the built environment.”

Neil Thompson, Co-Chair, Built Environment Panel of the IET said: “I’m excited to embark on the next phase of our transformation journey as a sector. Building an internet of twins that integrates seamlessly into our built environment is a challenging but worthy cause. We realise that we cannot do this alone and depend on our digital connections to the manufacturing and technology sectors.”

The project team will bring together experts in the field and intends to publish a white paper in the Autumn identifying some of the challenges. For more information, contact with the subject ‘The Apollo Protocol’.


Notes to editors:

About the IET

We inspire, inform and influence the global engineering community to engineer a better world.

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We want to build the profile of engineering and technology to change outdated perceptions and tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.

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About the AMRC

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) is a world-class centre for research into advanced manufacturing technologies used in the aerospace, automotive, medical and other high-value manufacturing sectors.

The AMRC has a global reputation for helping companies overcome manufacturing problems and is a model for collaborative research involving universities, academics and industry worldwide.

The AMRC is a member of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a consortium of leading manufacturing and process research centres, backed by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

About the Construction Leadership Council

The CLC’s mission is to provide sector leadership to the construction industry.

The CLC also convenes the industry response to urgent issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic.  The CLC has a series of workstreams that work collaboratively to address the biggest issues facing the industry including skills, building safety and net zero.

About the Centre for Digital Built Britain 

The Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) is a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the University of Cambridge. Our work toward a digital built Britain seeks to digitise the entire life-cycle of our built assets to better design, build, operate, integrate the built environment and find innovative ways of delivering more capacity out of our existing social and economic infrastructureCDBB is a partner in the Construction Innovation Hub and the home of the National Digital Twin Programme (NDTp).

About the Construction Innovation Hub 

Born out of the Construction Sector Deal and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund in 2018, the Construction Innovation Hub brings together world-class expertise from the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC),  BRE and the Centre for Digital Built Britain(CDBB). 

The Hub is working with more than 300 public and private-sector organisations to deliver a fully integrated programme consisting of the Value Toolkit, Platform Programme, International Programme and Information Management, to co-develop solutions that enable better decision-making, drive digital transformation, improve delivery and accelerate sector recovery.

The Hub and its partners are committed to fundamentally transforming UK construction so that it delivers better social, environmental and economic outcomes for current and future generations.

About techUK

techUK  is the trade association which brings together people, companies, and organisations to realise the positive outcomes of what digital technology can achieve.

With over 830 members (the majority of which are SMEs) across the UK, techUK creates a network for innovation and collaboration across business, government, and stakeholders to provide a better future for people, society, the economy and the planet.

By providing expertise and insight, we support our members, partners, and stakeholders as they prepare the UK for what comes next in a constantly changing world.

About The Alan Turing Institute

The Alan Turing Institute is the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.

The Institute is named in honour of Alan Turing, whose pioneering work in theoretical and applied mathematics, engineering and computing is considered to have laid the foundations for modern-day data science and artificial intelligence.

The Institute’s goals are to undertake world-class research in data science and artificial intelligence, apply its research to real-world problems, drive economic impact and societal good, lead the training of a new generation of scientists, and shape the public conversation around data and algorithms.

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