This is a guest blog by Nick Heim, P.E.
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Civil engineers are designers and builders of many things in the built environment, including roads, bridges, dams, and ports.
No matter the asset, maintenance is required. However, the way that maintenance plans are put together and communicated to owners is changing.
Today, I would like to summarize some of our top episodes from the AECTECH podcast, all of which relate to the use of digital tools for maintaining the built world.
If you find these brief summaries interesting, check out the full-length episodes!
In this episode, I talk to Marcel Poser, the CEO and co-founder of Screening Eagle Technologies, about the importance of protecting our built world and the role that data and digital transformation play in that process.
Here are some key points discussed in this episode about how digital transformation can help to protect our built world:
- The value of the built world, including roads, train systems, airports, buildings, bridges, etc., is in the order of magnitude of $500 trillion. It is the world’s biggest asset class and 10x the value of all the stocks listed around the world.
- The built world is the heaviest contributor to CO2pollution and represents 40% of global carbon emissions. It is why its protection is essential for the economy and the sustainable future we want to achieve as a society.
- Engineers must be trained and educated on effectively communicating with building owners to show them how smart maintenance and investing money in their assets will increase their value. It will enable engineers to give more value propositions to their clients by showing them the negative impact neglecting their assets will have.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) will play an important role in the built world regarding infrastructure failures. AI must become 90% more accurate to make a difference, and that is many years of work away. It is challenging — for example, when comparing the built world with the medical world, where AI is playing a significant role, the built world is more complex and requires more time to develop. The environment is not controllable, and there are many factors you need to take into consideration. It is not easy to get consistent results yet.
In this episode, I talk to Dr. Ali Khaloo, Ph.D., the CEO and co-founder of Aren, about what digital twins are and how you apply digital twins and artificial intelligence to infrastructure asset management.
Here are some key points discussed in this episode about using AI and digital twins for industry asset management:
- A digital twin is a digital representation of a physical asset. The digital twin must reflect what happens to the physical asset, which makes a digital twin a great way to do testing, monitoring, and maintenance simulations. In asset management, the digital model is the reference point of the physical asset to closely monitor how it has changed over time.
- AI is here to augment processes, not replace engineers. It is here to place engineers in a situation where they have access to all the information needed to perform accurate engineering judgments with less guesstimating. Letting AI take over more and more of the repetitive tasks will free up time for engineers to be more productive. It is all about doing the job faster, getting more things done safely, and making more money for the company.
- The current state of the built environment and infrastructure is a big issue. We need innovators to step up and help find solutions for this issue, propose them to the asset owners, and show them the benefits they will receive. It will take a lot of collaboration between tech companies and engineering firms for the solutions to work properly. The best way to move the industry in the right direction is by showing the asset owners how new technologies will benefit them for years to come.
- Engineers must be more open to technology and educate themselves on the latest and greatest things that are happening in industry. Realize that all the cool technology that is out there in the world that everyone gets excited about can be used in the engineering industry daily.
In this episode, we dive into digital inspection and non-destructive testing (NDT) with Hamed Layssi, PEng, Ph.D., the co-founder of FPrimeC Solutions Inc. We explore digital inspection applications and innovative NDT methods for evaluating concrete structures.
Here are some key points discussed in this episode about the digital inspection and non-destructive testing:
- Digital inspection integrates non-destructive testing (NDT) methods, which streamlines the process and enhances accuracy. By automating data importation, reducing manual compilation time, and enabling location-based tracking, digital workflows minimize errors, improve efficiency, and generate more comprehensive engineering reports.
- Visual inspection serves as a roadmap for non-destructive testing (NDT) in structure inspection, like how symptoms guide medical diagnostic tests. NDT acts as a diagnostic tool, providing specific information about structural conditions that visual inspection alone cannot reveal. By combining visual inspection and NDT, engineers can efficiently and effectively assess the condition of structural elements.
- Engineers must innovate and stay updated to provide optimal solutions and benefit customers. Their expertise and continuous learning are crucial in asset management and NDT, even as technology advances.
- Advances in computer vision AI and innovative NDT approaches are simplifying data analysis and visualization. Technologies like GPR and ultrasonics are becoming more user-friendly. Ongoing research and engineers’ innovation drive industry improvements. Growing demand for digital inspection fuels manufacturers to bring better solutions. Overall, these developments enhance NDT practices and benefit customers.
About the Author Nick Heim, P.E.
Nick Heim, P.E., is a civil engineer with six years of experience in the repair and restoration of existing structures. Nick is also the host of the AEC Engineering and Technology Podcast (“AECTECH”) and brings valuable insights and expertise to listeners worldwide.
Nick’s interests lie at the intersection between the built world and technology, and he can be found looking for the ever-changing answer to the question, “How can we do this better?” He can be found on LinkedIn, producing content about use of technologies in his Civil Engineering career and small business.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about the intersection of the built-world and digital technologies for digital inspection and non-destructive testing.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success