The benefits of creating and adopting technology to support your Digital Twin

The first step regarding the creation of a digital twin is often considered to be the creation of a digital 3D model in Autodesk Revit or the like. This is most easily done for new buildings, as architects design in Revit and all parties involved in the process can feed into this model. Models can also be produced with slightly more difficulty for existing estates through laser scanning and data upload.

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Benefits for owners/occupants creating a Digital Twin

If EIR/AIR/OIR specifications are done properly by - or on behalf of - the owner/occupier they can ensure that as models are built up throughout the construction process they deliver a wide range of valuable information associated with the building. This should include all spatial information, room data, a full list of assets, asset hierarchies and dependencies, maintenance schedules, costs, part codes and any other data specified.

Make sure to check everything that should have been delivered has and saves the need for expensive surveying and the creation of maintenance schedules post-handover. It gives a huge amount of control allowing the immediate commencement of total asset lifecycle cost analysis for considering planning maintenance and repair/replace strategies.

Dependent on the owner occupier, the model can have a number of other benefits as a visual tool for advertising/promoting the facilities, visualising design/layout changes and understanding asset locations and dependencies.

Benefits for owner/occupiers of adopting increased tech (IOT etc.) to maintain a Digital Twin

The continued collection and management of digital data associated with a building or estate – whether managed in a CDE, 3D model or a Facilities Management system – through the lifecycle of the building will also have significant benefit. There is debate about how much digital building data is required before effective building/estate management is considered digital twinning, but what can’t be debated is the fact that the more data one has, the more effectively and efficiently a building can be managed. Above and beyond traditional facilities management, where a level of digital data will be managed and reflect the goings on within a building:

Smart BMS (building management systems) allow for the most efficient control of energy usage throughout the common areas of the building. This allows for the remote control of heating/air conditioning/lighting/communications without the requirement for onsite presence and micromanagement. This can ensure heating etc. is at the optimal level throughout the building for comfort and efficiency while allowing any issues to be flagged to a central management system. Information collected on the performance of the building can also be used to check that the building has been delivered to the required environmental performance standards.

In selecting assets to populate their buildings, owners/occupiers now have significantly more choices around the level of IOT technology incorporated. Most assets, right down to light bulbs now have IOT capability, digitally enabling them. This makes maintenance much more efficient with devices notifying a central hub of any issue immediately or in some cases before there is a problem/failure. This allows cost-saving proactive and preventative maintenance with significantly reduced asset downtime. Over time smart maintenance systems should be able to build up a comprehensive analysis of failure rates and predictive maintenance schedules will get even more accurate. The downside to this is the current high costs of IOT tech adoption for every single asset, so most are more selective in their adoption.

Sensors can be installed to monitor the utilisation of the estate, building, floors, rooms or desks. Based on this data, strategies can be adopted to ensure the most efficient use of common space and ensure safety and security within the building. Understanding the usage of a building can also be used to put together best value-for-money cleaning schedules and wear-and-tear maintenance plans.

Tenants'/occupier experience can also be significantly improved. They can be given applications to interact with the smart tech within the building to gain access, control temperatures/lighting, book common areas, log maintenance requests, and raise issues.

In the case of a ‘true’ digital twin, all of this technology would be adopted to give as full a picture as possible regarding the performance of the building and everything within it, throughout its lifecycle. The reality is, that at the moment most will create a partial digital twin, adopting the technology that gives them the best understanding of the areas key to them which is most likely to give the biggest return on investment.

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