Digital twin technology offers owners and operators a powerful data solution that de-risks handover and commissioning, and provides asset management efficiencies that save time and money. It promises to make buildings more sustainable, whilst helping attract and retain occupants.
Digital twins not only enable a better understanding of how our buildings and cities are functioning, but also help to make our environments safer, healthier, and ultimately more liveable.
HISTORY OF DIGITAL TWINS
Information Mirroring* Model
- Powerful modelling and analysis
- R&D and engineering focus
Simulation and 3D Printing
- Digital design, virtual assembly, and simulation
- 3D printing mainstream
Connected IoT Assets
- Unified physical and virtual data
- Rapid feedback across design, manufacturing, and operations
Model Any Physical Environment
- Humans and device collaboration
- Spatial awareness and intelligence
- Mixed Reality experience
Despite the current hype today, a digital twin is not a new innovation. Dynamic, virtual replicas of physical assets were first used by NASA, however they have now found value in many other industries, such as aviation, oil & gas, manufacturing and now real estate.
Digital twins are solving a fundamental data problem.
For the owners of real estate, a huge pain point is the management of their data.
Every day, the built world produces staggering amounts of data; from the occupants that walk the corridors, to the equipment that powers and measures operations. Sadly, most of this valuable information goes to waste, lost in fragmented digital languages that are locked away in proprietary systems. The mismanagement of building data is having a negative impact on bottom line performance and owners are losing insurmountable untapped value.
The real estate industry has historically struggled to embrace technological innovations. Major providers have fallen short in their ability to be agnostic or remain adaptable for future needs. This means owners have minimal data ownership — their information is poorly structured and siloed in individual buildings systems, and they face the threat of cyber breach or great financial cost every time they introduce a new technology at scale.
Digital twins provide an intuitive way to store, organise, and access the big data generated by complex real estate and infrastructure assets. Digital twins are a digital representation of a physical asset or collection of physical assets, overlaid with real-time data about how those assets are performing. These scalable, dynamic models are 2D or 3D digital, geometrically accurate visualisation of buildings and infrastructure networks. They also provide continuously updated information on a project’s status or live building operational data and facilitates machine learning capabilities. As such, the digital twin becomes a cohesive “single source of truth” for the real asset.
Different, not better
However, a digital twin is far more than a tool for data storage or simply a building information model (BIM). The addition of live data means that users can see the real-world elements of not only the asset — in this case, a building — but also how it and its users interact. For example, what is the occupancy of a given floor and adjusting the HVAC system accordingly. It can also learn from these scenarios and start to predict future scenarios.
Willow: Redefining the digital twin for the built world
WillowTwin™ is a ground-breaking software solution that deploys digital twins for the built world to collect, organise, and analyse data at scale.
The WillowTwin™ platform brings together three main streams of project information into an easy-to-use, searchable platform that can scale to an entire portfolio. This includes:
- Spatial information from the 3D models or 2D drawings developed during the design and construction stages or existing building records.
- Static information about all equipment that is important to the owner’s operations team (such as manufacturer, model and serial numbers, warranty information, expected cost of replacement), as well as PDFs of the owner’s manual and maintenance instructions, warranties and other associate documentation.
- Live data from base building systems such as the building management system (BMS), lighting control, access control, CCTV, and other IoT sensor networks.
By harnessing real-time data, the platform adds value by optimising the performance to drive savings through actionable insights and predictive maintenance. Owners can also use the platform to glean insights about how occupants behave and automatically predict such needs as environmental comfort, effectively driving increase in occupant retention and revenue.
Willow’s origins were in the Design and Construction of complex projects. We were an early adopter in the creation and use of BIM and it was a natural progression to move from BIM to Twin. Once a BIM model is generated, it becomes compelling to enrich this model with static and live data to create a digital twin. This includes the asset register, maintenance logs, warranties and O&M manuals — as well as live data from the base building systems.
What are the benefits?
Digital twins are capable of driving uplift in the value of real assets a number of ways. It is estimated that there is the opportunity for a 15-20% reduction in variable operating costs for office buildings. This is made possible through big data analytics, improved visibility for facility managers, optimised enforcement of warranties, predictive maintenance, automated compliance with fire and safety regulations and energy optimisation algorithms, as well as a reduction in key machinery downtime.
Additionally, an estimated 10-15% improvement in occupant retention for office and industrial assets can be achieved. This is made possible through enhanced occupant feedback on building performance, customisable features per building, more timely processing of occupant service requests, improved visibility on the performance of facility managers and big data analytics about space utilisation, use patterns, occupation growth, merger/acquisition and key personnel changes in relation to the office and industrial occupants.
Willow’s vision is to allow third-party software developers to innovate new applications on the WillowTwin™ platform and to make these applications available to all Willow-enabled buildings.
Driving industry change
At a very minimum, the digital twin validates, prepares and visualises information for owners and operators of buildings and infrastructure networks who want to make well-informed, data-driven decisions for their properties and portfolios.
But the real paradigm shift that the digital twin brings to our industry comes with the owner’s ability to do incredibly powerful things with their data with relative ease. Owners will be enabled to evaluate multiple options and reveal ways to optimise business operations in real-time and implement new workflows and processes into their organisations. This improves efficiency and enables best-in-class solutions across their entire portfolio that drive better, smarter outcomes for staff and customers around the globe.
How entire groups of people live, learn, commute and interact with their world can be better understood, visualised, and communicated. The digital twin equips building owners not only with the tools they need to delight the people who use their space and to gain the insights they need to run a better business, but empowers them to create a safer, smarter, more connected built world.