Concept: Pennsylvania’s infrastructure engineering software company Bentley Systems (Bentley), has co-developed OpenTower iQ in collaboration with Texas-based software sensor tech company Visual Intelligence (VI), and Portuguese aerial inspection engineering startup Aeroprotechnik. It is a digital twin solution, powered by iTwin, for telecom towers that provides 3D visualization, real-time decision support, and predictive design from the ground up. The new digital co-venture aims to fasten the time-to-market process of creative cloud solutions based on the Bentley iTwin platform to boost telcos operational efficiency and revenue assurance.
Nature of Disruption: OpenTower iQ gives telecom tower owners and operators the tools they need to accelerate the digital transition needed for 5G deployments, as well as the opportunity to digitize and automate their asset-based businesses. Bentley leverages Aeroprotechnik’s AI and reality modeling capabilities to deliver near real-time information to tower companies and mobile operators. It helps them to derive actionable insights and track, anticipate, and respond to any necessary tower modifications, shorten sales cycles, and accelerate rollouts. Bentley uses VI’s patented dual-sensor drone technology to create 3D, engineering-grade asset intelligence by digitizing physical infrastructure. The drone captures detailed tower components such as bolts, wires, ladders with millimeter accuracy. Utilizing the digital twin model, operators can develop a visual representation of the tower by combing a reality mesh with the digital engineering models. It also provides a dashboard that can give operational information such as operating status or inspection dates after applying filters.
OpenTower iQ automates the tedious task of manufacturing as-built models and uses AI to identify vital components, making it simple to change existing towers and maintain accurate models. Moreover, by employing data analytics, tower companies can boost asset performance and revenue assurance by quickly accessing easy-to-understand information required for everyday tower operations.
Outlook: Using crews to inspect cell towers daily is a risky operation, and inspecting assets over hundreds, if not thousands, of miles is a slow and difficult process. It costs approximately an average of $2,000 to $5,000 per inspection. Drone technology offers a powerful way for enterprises to conduct remote asset inspections, hence telcos and mobile operators are already leveraging drone technology to automate cell tower inspections, enhance operational efficiency, and accelerate the rollout of the 5G infrastructure. In fact, automating the cell tower inspection within the industry is expected to minimize inspection costs by as much as 50%. Additionally, the telecom industry is going through a rapid transformation as multi-network operators are expanding their portfolios through consolidation and transcending from a 4G platform to 5G. Therefore, digital twin solutions like OpenTower iQ, powered by iTwin, can help tower owners to make the most of the industry’s burgeoning opportunities. Unlike rudimentary reality models produced using other cameras, a digital twin with accuracy can support advanced analyses such as connection integrity analysis and mount mapping analysis. Bentley claims OpenTower iQ is designed to handle large asset portfolios of operators, easily processing and analyzing several towers.