We spend up to 90% of our time in buildings. Buildings should provide a safe and secure environment – a place to learn, grow, and prosper – in a world where our fundamental health, safety, and wellbeing expectations have been deeply impacted by the anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While it is true that today’s buildings should be efficient, dependable, and safe, these qualities alone do not enable businesses and empower people in the way that a true smart building can. Adaptability is essential. Smart buildings interact with the people, systems, and external elements in their surroundings, learning from previous experiences and real-time inputs. Above all, they can adapt to the needs of the people and businesses that inhabit them by improving comfort, efficiency, resiliency, and safety.
Where do we start?
Engineering, design and construction continue to evolve as the demand for energy-saving, resilient, and smart buildings increases. Changing laws and regulations also put pressure on the construction industry, pushing contractors and skilled workers to modernise. New technologies foster adaptability by adding volume, speed, and value to construction processes. This allows even small start-ups that initially relied on conventional resources and methods to grow.
With the construction industry’s technology-enabled transformation comes the need for a more advanced facility management system. Traditional building maintenance solutions are no longer enough to keep buildings functional, safe, and comfortable for occupants. Stricter codes, additional amenities, and emerging threats necessitate a brand-new, data-driven approach. One that enables your facility management team to visualise situational problems with precision, remotely inspect and troubleshoot glitches, and predict future complications more accurately.
That’s where digital twin technology comes in. It’s a virtual modelling technology with machine learning, software analytics, and artificial intelligence integration that allows facility and project management teams to examine different aspects of a facility’s performance. It also helps deal with problems (and recommend improvements) by running multiple simulations based on real-time data. In this article, we’ll look into the fine points of digital twin technology and how it is revolutionising facility management.
What is digital twin technology?
If you search for a particular city or country in a search engine, Google will show you an option to view a map—Google Maps—instead of a text or article. If you open the map, you’ll find a small square icon at the bottom that says “layers.” In it—Google Earth—are various models of the Earth, each providing specific, mostly real-time information. For instance, if you click “wildfires,” it will show you places at risk of wildfires or where wildfires are currently happening.
This is an example of a digital twin technology application. Google created a virtual twin or representation of the Earth so that we can view it not just as a 2D or 3D image but as a multi-layered, interactive map packed with information besides geography. This same technology is used in facility management and other relevant processes and applications.
Modern facility and building solutions already include BIM model creation to provide the facility manager and their team with detailed 3D images of the facility they manage. The images show not only the exterior walls and columns but also hidden layers of the construction, including ductwork, wiring, plumbing, and everything in between. This helps facility management teams perform maintenance tasks, facility inspections, and other building solutions with precision.
These are standard features that can be included in your average BIM software application. Digital twin technology is when sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices are integrated into the system and add an extra dimension to the BIM model. This time you’ll see not just detailed illustrations but other elements representing real-time information about the facility. Put this entire setup into a cloud-based platform, for everyone to access, and you’ll get transparent, collaborative, and flexible virtual twin software to help streamline your building’s day to day operations.
Find out how PlanRadar can leverage digital twin technology to scale up your facility management software by booking a free product demo.
Transforming facility management with digital twin technology
Upgrading your current facility management approach readies your business for growth in the coming years. Innovative solutions such as smart and self-maintaining facilities will become a common feature of buildings and the only way to meet the demand for convenience. Here are some specific benefits of adopting digital twin technology in your facility management:
1. Better than simulation
Traditional BIM management usually includes simulations to see possible scenarios and plan the most suitable responses. But these simulations typically use data from outmoded or not-so-recent studies or surveys. The results are still usable, but they limit the assumptions and possible courses of action you can formulate. Also, standard simulations can only be performed to study one process at a time. With digital twin technology, on the other hand, you can simulate based on updated information and run multiple simulations because the sensors provide different layers of data about the facility.
2. Lay off the guesswork
There was a time when figuring out whether a hybrid workspace could boost on-site productivity or a new BIM management system would yield better insights into a facility’s energy output was based heavily on assumptions. It’s still the same today since no one can accurately predict the future, but with digital twin at work, you’ll have more facts to back your decisions. Analysing behavioural data and generating valuable recommendations from undefinable variables were once impossible and prompted guesswork. This is possible because the digital twin’s AI capabilities compare real-time records of occupant behaviour against historical readings. The result may not be 100 per cent accurate, but they are many times more reliable.
3. Automation and responding from a distance
Regarding behavioural data, facility management software with digital twin integration can make buildings smart by analysing and remembering occupant behavioural patterns. The analysis can then be incorporated into the BIM software automation to allow the building to carry out specific actions without human intervention. For instance, it can be programmed to shut off lighting or air conditioning at a particular time of day when the sensors detect no movement on a floor or room. Of course, you can do this manually, but unlike traditional models, you can monitor and take action remotely.
4. Leaving no stone unturned
Facility management covers a broad spectrum of processes, from cleaning and security to sustainability planning to emergency and disaster response. Coordinating all of these tasks requires access to up-to-date information and analysis. When an incident impacts more than one area, the digital twin will alert the building manager, showing which areas are affected and what actions need to be taken. By responding to issues early, you can fulfil all your responsibilities without compromises.
Knowing the most likely impact of your decision before making it is what digital twin adoption in facility management is about. Remember that facility management is centred on providing occupants with a safe, comfortable and functional space. With the ever-evolving construction industry, having digital twin technology integrated into your facility management platform, like PlanRadar, can help you achieve this.
Start your 30-day free PlanRadar trial and find out how it can help you leverage digital twin technology! Or, you can contact us to get a more personalised walkthrough of how PlanRadar can benefit your business.