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Digital Twin Empowers Vodafone- Boosts Operational Efficiency and Enables Virtual Site Visits


Vodafone has built a 3D digital twin of its UK mobile mast network to help engineers visualize and plan network improvements and expansion. 

The digital twin involved mapping approximately 250,000 square kilometers and more than 40 million environmental features, including buildings, hills, valleys, and trees, using Esri UK GIS (geographic information system) software.  Vodafone is striving for the company’s “Vodafone 2025” strategy, in which they aim to automate as much of their network as possible in order to respond to customer demands more quickly. At the moment, roughly 70% of its European network is on its “on-premises” cloud, with the goal of increasing that to 100% by 2025. 

What is a Digital Twin? 

Comprehensive adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and the recent advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) applications provide various new insights and decision-making capabilities.  

The capacity of real-time connectivity to online sensors put in an area has led to the concept of the Digital Twin of the Built Environment emerging in recent years. 

The term “Digital Twin” refers to a digital representation of physical assets, processes, and systems, as well as their dynamics, that can be used for a variety of purposes. Digital Twin is a digitalization technology that connects the actual and virtual worlds. It makes use of real-time data and other sources to improve decision-making by enabling learning, reasoning, and dynamic evolution.  

This twin model gathers data and employs physics-based simulations to create a data-rich model that performs identically to its real-world counterpart. The digital twin technique replaces all design assumptions with real data, resulting in a real-time operational model of the structure. 

Digital Twin Empowering Vodafone

Vodafone, one of the biggest telecom giants, is leveraging Digital Twin technology to improve the efficiency of its engineers with the help of GIS software and knowledge from Esri UK. Working specifically in the UK, Vodafone developed a national digital twin of its entire mobile mast network across the entire nation. This gave its engineers an interactive and precise 3D model they could use to plan how to enhance current networks and expand their network to better serve their customers without having to physically travel to the locations of these mobile masts. 

Vodafone’s GIS Lead, Dr. Rebecca King, stated that “Using ArcGIS Enterprise has allowed us to add the spatial dimension to a lot of data we were already working with, resulting in new levels of location intelligence.” “A customer’s mobile phone might cut out due to what we call clutter. This is usually down to the construction of new buildings or seasonal tree growth interfering with the signal strength. We like to visualize these in a digital format so that we can better plan the expansion of our network around them” she added. 

Vodafone Engineers now have access to a 360-degree virtual view of the network via a secure connection from their laptop or mobile device. They can more effectively plan where to position new mobile sites and identify which ones require upgrading or repositioning to meet increased customer demand or to compensate for the construction of new buildings or tree growth. 

The digital twin also makes it possible to model signal propagation across coverage areas to direct ongoing maintenance and upgrades that improve signals and expand the area covered. 

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Benefits of Digital Twin in The Construction Industry

The lead architect of Vodafone’s digital twin, Boris Pitchforth stated, “Initially, it was purely a question of producing a better map”. “Now it has become a much smarter way for us to plan. 

With the aid of its digital twin, Vodafone is able to monitor the progress of projects like new homes, malls, and sports facilities. By doing this, Vodafone is able to maintain a strong signal wherever demand is rising. 

The digital twin also enables Vodafone to accomplish its promise to make sure its UK operations reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2027. 

This is a significant step for Vodafone and its engineering team, but it is only one as the business plans to continue digitizing more of its processes in the future. They are now looking to test similar digital twins in other markets throughout Europe after this project, which so far appears to be a success. Germany and Turkey are the next possible locations.  

Vodafone also intends to use this technology to support the introduction of fresh features like Massive MIMO, which boosts capacity at specific sites. According to Vodafone, the number of connected devices is predicted to reach 30 billion globally by 2025, meaning that these kinds of advancements will be required to keep up with that growth. 

The Future of Digital Twins in Engineering 

The use of the digital twin in planning has increased. Engineers can perform advance planning for work on individual towers or entire sections of the network with information about the topography, cell towers, and the equipment on each tower. They can simulate how adding or removing a component might affect signal strength or examine how a new tower might close a coverage gap. 

Engineers can now measure infrastructure remotely thanks to the digital twin, saving them both time and money by eliminating the need to travel to the site each time. The cell tower can also be located in the middle of a field or in a crowded urban area, where finding the path or access road can be challenging. 

Digital technology adoption among engineers and contractors still has a long way to go. Companies that have already implemented BIM workflows may find it easier to move forward with digital twins. If your company hasn’t yet adopted digital solutions, it’s critical to understand that the transition is both necessary and unavoidable. 

The transformation will be fuelled by rising demand, growing complexity, and more powerful design authoring tools. The industry is already realizing benefits from digital twins in terms of risk management, decreasing rework, and increasing efficiencies in project delivery. 

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About Indovance 

Indovance Inc  with its exclusive delivery hub in India is a global CAD outsourcing partner serving the needs of the AEC industry since 2003. We focus on the unique need of each project or client and believe in addressing the real challenges and guarantee that the process will be well-coordinated, smooth, efficient, and hassle-free.  

We collaborate with our customers around the world to develop bespoke business solutions using our enormous engineering talent pool and state-of-the-art technology. To deliver long-term engineering and business strategies, we align with your culture and processes to create an unbreakable partnership. With over 550 full-time employees and more than 600 customers in the US, Europe, India, and Asia, we are poised for the next level of success.  

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