While facility managers are still focused on maintaining buildings in the most efficient ways possible, they have new challenges and priorities. In addition to implementing a digital transformation strategy and execution for improved sustainability, occupant comfort, productivity, and physical-logical security, they need to adopt post-quarantine protocols that prioritize indoor air quality, space utilization, people tracking, and contact tracing.
— Jason Pelski, Director, Johnson Controls1
The world is swimming in data, but converting that into actionable information often remains more manual than automatic.
Industrial sites are multi-faceted – with physical properties and assets in varying conditions, networks of infrastructure and power flows to be optimised. Beyond assets and operations, facilities are affected by their environment as well as the organization and business itself.
Benefits of digital twins
Non-quantified results included elimination of unplanned service visits, improved reliability and asset lifetime, OPEX and CAPEX savings.2
in aeration energy, saving 1.2m Kwh while delivering water quality
in combined sewer overflows
by avoiding detailed assessments followed by structural work
by avoiding refurbishment of the main water distribution system
in inspection scopes, each costing up to €200,0003
in space utilitzation4
The digital twin brings new ways of thinking; it reduces the complexity of the building and helps me assess decisions for its operation remotely.
— Renzo Salas, Dormeson5
Nextspace digital twins
Nextspace’s platform provides the data interoperability that brings multiple technologies together in one data model for analysis and visualisations to help teams understand complex situations at a glance—more informed and faster decision making.
Challenges to digital twin ROI
Lack of strategy. Unclear business cases and metrics.
Future beneficiaries of the digital twin are not involved.
Data quality—accuracy, completeness, consistency.
Limited buy-in, adoption and integration into the business process.
Perception of cost to deploy and scale.
Applications of digital twins to Facility Management
Adoar Espania Slioa’s comprehensive Master’s Thesis at the School of Engineering in Jönköping, Sweden, identifies a facility management digital twin system as comprising three parts—BIM, IoT, and the digital twin. A flow of IoT data from physical sensors being analysed before flowing back to the physical asset as control feedback.
The paper outlines several benefits of digital twins applied to Facility Management. Each of the features below has at least one reference paper attached to it.6
- CO2 level monitoring
- CFD simulations and measures CO2 level
- Allows occupants to provide feedback for comfort
- Maintain comfort levels
- Monitors comfort levels
- What to monitor to improve comfort
- DT cleaning schedules save costs
- VAV Dampener control
- Decrease renovation costs
- Costs and scalability between sensors
- Digital twin cost vs benefit risk
- Post occupancy evaluation optimize implementation cost
- Predict weather, occupancy prediction control over VAV
- Aims to decrease net primary energy usage
- Decreases time for deep energy audits
- Monitors energy consumptions
- Monitor energy consumption
- Energy consumption and saving
- LEED criteria and energy monitoring
- Detect errors through performance variations in components
- Detects building condition, rating the maintenance urgency
- Collects from feedback
- Emotion detection software
- Indoor environmental quality
- Detects occupants for spatial proximity
- What sensors are used
- Predicts occupants
- Uses historical data to detect faults in Air handling units
- Monitor luminance
- Monitors glare, daylight simulation
- Evaluate thermal comfort and proximity
- Thermal monitoring
- VR thermal comfort visualization
Even with significant technology advances, a digital twin project is still perceived to take significant resources and months to accomplish. This is one reason why so many projects get stuck at the proof of concept; the operational value may be clear but there’s no visible path to reducing the costs for each subsequent digital twin model deployment in utility operations.
— Gabe Prado, Cognite7
BIM vs digital twins for Facility Management
BIM modelling was often touted as a route to better facility management. A computer model acted as a digital as-built model, replacing paper. However BIM was never designed to be a facility management tool.
Cloud-based digital twins offer many advantages:8
By transferring a BIM model into a cloud platform, all stakeholders can be integrated.
Better manage increasing complexity and incorporating new technologies, relevant to building operations but outside of the BIM scope.
Current status of an installation and its geospatial data available real time.
An integrated digital database for all stakeholders and cross-company networking along the entire building lifecycle.
A data-based tailor-made quotation for building-specific services.
Clear requirements that lead to targeted preparation and qualification of employees.
Remote analyses leading to increased process efficiency.
A comprehensive service history detailing all activities.8
BIM is a siloed tool, and never really created very well to be used by multiple parties or multiple data points. BIM is really a tool to get design and construction done better. Since a building changes every single day, facility managers need a tool to change with it.
— Jacob D’Albora, Director of Digital Building Operations, VIATechnik
By capturing and synchronizing data at a specified frequency and fidelity from various sources, you can visualize how your building has been performing, what is happening now, and what may happen in the future. You can use digital twins to break siloes in your projects. You can leverage it to convert your data to knowledge and support transforming the knowledge from one project to another.
— Mehdi Nourbakhsh, CEO, YegaTech9
4 tips to achieve digital twin excellence
Start with a strategy that will lead to operational excellence.
The right use cases, a well-defined problem statement, real tangible value? Where is there immediate need for new operational visibility? How about in 3-5 years?
Start simple and easy using quality data. Digital twins are a journey of continuous improvement.
Create dashboards and analytics using experts within the business.
- “Optimize With Digital Twin Technology” by Jason Pelski, Facility ExecutiveVisit link
- “From digital twin to decision intelligence across the water cycle” by Xylem VueVisit link
- “Digital Twins for Structural Condition Assessment of Power Stations” by Global Infrastructure HubVisit link
- “Optimize With Digital Twin Technology” by Jason Pelski, Facility ExecutiveVisit link
- “Creating the first digital shopping centre in Peru” by HexagonVisit link
- “Evaluation of Digital Twin implementations in Facility Management – A systematic review” by Adoar Espania SlioaVisit link
- “Demystifying the Digital Twin for Power & Utilities. Time to Rethink the Definition?” by Gabe Prado, CogniteVisit link
- “Building Information Modeling, or the Digital Twin of Buildings, is revolutionizing facility management” by Donald Wachs, BearingPointVisit link
- “How Digital Twins Can Create Facility Management Efficiencies” by Greg Zimmerman, FacilitiesNetVisit link
- “Demystifying the Digital Twin. Time to Rethink the Definition?” by Georg Baecker & Gabe Prado, Utility Analytics InstituteVisit link
When implemented correctly, digital twins deliver significant ROI. This is why more industries are building digital twins into their core asset and operational management processes.
Data-first digital twins built on Nextspace are customizable and extensible. Our platform helps you integrate, federate, and futureproof valuable data.
There’s so much information out there, so we’ve collected our favourites
Behrang Ashtari, Tobias Jung, Benjamin Lindemann, Nada Sahlab
This article looks at how Intelligent Digital Twins can be used for the realization of the autonomous Cyber-Physical Production Systems.
The title of the article says it all – eight benefits, briefly outlined.
Journal of Petroleum Technology
An article from 2019 that examined the maturing of digital twins in the North Sea focused on Total, Aker BP, and Shell who had each developed and deployed twins.
Antonio Antunes, Elsa Cardoso, Jose Barateiro
Whilst use of unstructured data (sensors, images, video) is increasing, structured data remains crucial and is instrumental in developing descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analysis.
Data quality management systems are thoroughly researched but the advent of Big Data might pose some serious questions pertaining to the applicability of existing data quality concepts. This paper aims to investigate various components and activities forming part of data quality management such as dimensions, metrics, data quality rules, data profiling and data cleansing.
Igiri Onaji, Divya Tiwari, Payam Soulatiantork, Boyang Song, and Ashutosh Tiwari
Taylor & Francis Group, Informa UK
A robust research paper focused on the question: “How does the digital twin concept support the realisation of an integrated, flexible and collaborative manufacturing environment as one of the goals projected by the fourth industrial revolution?”