How Can a Digital Twin Help Water Management Facilities?

How Can a Digital Twin Help Water Management Facilities?

Water management facilities are seeking digital twins of their plants to access accurate existing conditions data for design, construction, operations, simulation, and analysis. Digital twins can be used to plan building improvements, design plant additions, manage assets, and optimize operations and workflows.

Water management facilities aid the development, use, and protection of water resources, and include water supply facilities, water treatment facilities, wastewater treatment facilities, stormwater management facilities, water conservation facilities, and more.

A digital twin for a water management facility is a 3D model that accurately represents the existing physical space, assets, and processes. It is a real-time, accurate digital representation of a building’s structure and systems.

A digital twin can be thought of as a BIM model or computer model of an existing building, or an electronic as-built model. It often replaces outdated paper CAD plans.

When GPRS creates a digital twin, it includes 2-4 millimeter-accurate layout, location, and dimensional information of a facilities’ structure and equipment, such as pipes, pumps, hydrants, valves, lift stations, storage tanks, and more, documenting detailed spatial information and how each component works together.

Digital as-builts help plant operators and engineers evaluate system components and workflows and how they are impacted by different loads, flows, temperatures, and other parameters. It can help identify the issues within a system, enabling engineers to accurately schedule predictive maintenance, resulting in lower operational costs.

Digital twins can help the decision-making process by testing proposed design changes in a virtual environment, reducing project change orders and risks.

GPRS 3D laser scanning water facility
A digital twin for a water management facility is a 3D model that accurately represents the existing physical space, assets, and processes

How is a Digital Twin Created?

To create a digital twin of a facility, it must first be 3D laser scanned. A GPRS Project Manager will arrive on site and deploy the laser scanner in many positions around the facility from varying viewpoints. 3D laser scanners use LiDAR technology to record precise x, y, and z coordinates of every point in the facility, similar to a pixel in a photograph. Every architectural, structural, and MEP feature, plus utility and concrete markings, can be captured with 2-4mm accuracy. Millions of coordinates are processed into a point cloud, creating an accurate 3D as-built dataset of the site. Comprehensive site data will ensure a precise digital twin model.  

The GPRS Mapping & Modeling team uploads the point cloud into software such as Autodesk Revit, ReCap, BIM 360, Navisworks, Inventor, SolidWorks, and MicroStation to create a digital twin of the facility. The digital twin 3D model can be created with different levels of detail and tolerances, depending on the project scope and specifications.

GPRS recently developed SiteMap®, a cloud-based user-friendly software that quickly and securely delivers digital twin models for construction and infrastructure projects. SiteMap® provides customers with GPRS accurate as-built information – from our 99.8% accurate utility maps & concrete imaging results to CAD drawings, and fully integrated 3D BIM models that meld 2-4mm accurate aboveground as-builts & below ground infrastructure to create a digital twin of any site.

A digital twin delivered in SiteMap® will break down departmental silos, because it obligates teams to work in one virtual platform. This encourages collaboration, communication, and ultimately, better decision making.

GPRS Created a Digital Twin of the Henrico Water Treatment Plant

GPRS provided 3D laser scanning services for the Henrico Water Treatment Plant in Richmond, Virginia. The facility requested a digital twin of the plant for the removal of existing steam boilers, underground fuel tanks and accessories, and the installation of new steam boilers and new above-ground fuel tanks, and all renovations associated with their replacement.

GPRS Project Manager Vinnie Paul 3D laser scanned the 13,500 s.f.. Henrico Water Treatment Plant in eight hours with the Leica RTC 360 laser scanner.

“I completed a site walkthrough the day prior to efficiently plan the scan route and ensure comprehensive data collection. This saved the client time and money and quickly delivered point cloud data to the GPRS Mapping and Modeling team to create a 3D digital twin model,” said Paul.
He added, “By 3D laser scanning to create a digital twin, the Henrico Water Treatment Plant is proactively designing and planning plant upgrades.”

3D laser scanning water treatment facility
GPRS Project Manager Vinnie Paul 3D laser scanned the 13,500 sq. ft. Henrico Water Treatment Plant in 8 hours with the Leica RTC 360 laser scanner.

How Does the Henrico Water Treatment Plant Operate?

The Henrico Water Treatment Plant is situated on a 52-acre site, and treats water pumped from a pumping station located on the bank of the James River. Water entering the plant is treated with ozone to reduce objectionable tastes and odors and a chemical coagulant that causes suspended particles to clump together and settle to the bottom of large open-air tanks.

The water is then disinfected further and sent through gravity filters comprised of granulated activated charcoal, sand, and an underdrain system. The water is stored in two large reinforced concrete tanks (clearwells) under the building. These tanks are capable of storing 8.2 million gallons of water.

Water is pumped by six 800-horsepower vertical turbine pumps, each of which has the capacity to pump 11.4 million gallons of water per day.

The planned infrastructure upgrades will ensure safe drinking water for the community.

Digital twin of water treatment facility
The facility requested a digital twin of the plant for the removal of existing steam boilers, underground fuel tanks and accessories, and the installation of new steam boilers and new above-ground fuel tanks.

What are the Benefits of Digital Twins?

With accurate digital twins, facilities can make better and faster decisions. These are some benefits to digital twin technology:

  • Improve communication and collaboration
  • Remote analysis of a system’s performance
  • Virtual design and construction planning
  • Data-driven decision making
  • Predictive modeling and maintenance
  • Integrate material and labor costs to determine an accurate project estimate
  • Incorporate artificial intelligence to improve workflow efficiency
  • Test ideas in a virtual environment with few limitations
  • Aid in operational management post-construction
Ultimately, digital twins can help companies operate more efficiently, cut costs, and remain competitive. The McKinsey Global Institute reports that a digital transformation can increase productivity by up to 15% and reduce costs by up to 6%.

How Can GPRS Help Visualize Your Water Infrastructure?

As states continue to invest in drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure, they can utilize digital twin technology for design planning and operational decision making.

GPRS has extensive experience providing 3D laser scanning and digital twin services for water treatment, water supply, water utility, water storage and distribution facilities - documenting the interior and exterior of buildings, foundations, structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing features, equipment, motors, and conduit and piping down to ½ inch diameter.

Our elite team of Project Managers is required to complete an extensive training program before performing field services on your job site. Every Project Manager completes 80 hours of classroom training and 320 hours of field mentoring.

Water management facilities can save time and money by contacting GPRS to 3D laser scan existing infrastructure and MEP features. GPRS captures measurements with 2-4mm accuracy to provide digital twins to plan for upgrades and avoid clashes and change orders.

What can we help you visualize?

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is 3D Laser Scanning?

3D laser scanners use LiDAR (light detection and ranging) to measure and record precise locations and distances, ultimately producing a point cloud file. The technology enables you to produce highly accurate digital measurements and images quickly and easily for use in construction and engineering projects. 3D laser scanning is a revolutionary tool to document existing conditions. It is invaluable in design, prefabrication, asset management, and facility modifications.

What Is BIM?

BIM stands for Building Information Modeling and is more than just a 3D model. 3D BIM scanning gives engineers the ability to manage the building data throughout its whole life-cycle. It provides accurate spatial relationships and manufacturer details, as well as geographic information and other pertinent aspects of the building.

What Is LiDAR?

LiDAR is a remote sensing method used to generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of an object and its surface characteristics. Much like radar systems that employ radio waves to measure objects, LiDAR uses lasers to calculate the distance of objects with light pulses from 3D laser scanners, gathering 3D information about an object.

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