Photogrammetric 3D Modelling and Digital Twins

Photogrammetric 3D Modelling and Digital Twins

Posted 03 February 2020

The advantages of producing 3D digital models of your assets using photogrammetry cannot be overestimated, which is why this technology has been growing in popularity within industries such as mining, oil & gas, construction, power generation and several others.


Photogrammetry is the art and science of extracting 3D information from photographs.

The process involves taking overlapping photographs of physical objects, structures, or spaces and converting them into 3D digital models which replicate the related physical asset.

Using this technology, we can produce a 3D digital replica (Twin) of almost any part of an asset, large or small. This model will then forever be the digital representation of the as-built physical asset and can be manipulated in the future to continue mirroring that asset as and when it changes, throughout its lifecycle.

In its limited sense, the term photogrammetry means the procedure of measuring images on a photograph. An integrated digital photogrammetry system is defined as hardware/software configuration that produces photogrammetric products from digital imagery using manual and automatic techniques.

Photogrammetry can be used to make highly accurate and realistically photo textured models of buildings, structures, archaeological sites, landscapes (if the images are taken from the air) and objects, large or small.

Close range photogrammetry of historical objects offers the possibility of both digitally preserving relics before they may be lost or damaged, and of allowing a whole suite of digital measurements, manipulations and other analyses to be performed that allow insights into the material that might not be visible to the naked eye.

Aerial photogrammetry

The process of utilising aircrafts to produce aerial photography that can be turned into a 3D model or mapped digitally is now possible using drones. Drones have made it easier to safely capture difficult-to-access or normally inaccessible areas where traditional surveying might be perilous or unfeasible.

Close-range photogrammetry

Close-range photogrammetry is when images are captured using a handheld camera or with a camera mounted to a tripod.

The output of this method is not to create topographic maps, but rather to make 3D models of a smaller object.

To achieve the desired output the following activities are performed:

  • Photo acquisition;
  • Processing of photographs;
  • 3D Model generation; and
  • Texturing and visualisation.

The next step is to input the meta data to the 3D model which is related back to the as-built object, asset or group of assets.

Producing the digital twin

Once the 3D model has been completed it possesses the initial qualities of a digital twin and can be used in several applications which will save an organisation time, money and resources in the short, medium and long term.

By further linking the 3D model to live data coming from sensors connected to the modelled assets, this then creates a digital twin which evolves in real time and adds infinite value to any organisation wishing to radically reduce costs and proactively increase the lifespan of their assets through predicting potential outcomes.  

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