Four Ways Digital Twin Software Will Change Facilities Management

Digital twins for building management are finally breaking out of the pilot phase, following a string of customer implementations across large offices, hospitals and stadiums in the past 18 months. Recent deployments highlight the role digital twins can take in helping facility managers unlock new insights, optimize complex workflows and better predict events. So what are the highest value applications that real estate executives must pay attention to? Our research identifies four areas in which digital twins will enhance facilities management in the future.

#1. Improving the design of energy management systems.

Executives can leverage digital twins to optimize energy usage by simulating the impacts of different energy efficiency programmes. For instance, Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) is supporting +CityxChange, a smart city project funded by the European Union, by modelling and analysing the interactions between the buildings, grid and any renewable infrastructure to test various scenarios that reduce energy use. With a growing number of firms integrating renewables, microgrids and battery storage at buildings and data centres, building managers will need increasingly sophisticated tools to plan energy management programmes.

#2. Optimizing complex facilities workflows.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning models within digital twins allow managers to automate workflows such as HVAC schedules. Witness Cohesion’s digital twin solution automatically triggering the heating or cooling of spaces based on real-time occupancy data, space utilization predictions, duration of occupancy and outside temperature. This improves energy efficiency and asset lifecycle by only running building systems when required.

#3. Driving smarter fault detection alerts.

Digital twins optimize maintenance plans by enhancing traditional fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) and task prioritization processes. Commercial building twins are constantly processing real-time asset data and analysing the data against historical asset performance to better identify faults and learn new faults overtime. Digital twins also leverage algorithms and advanced analytic models to better prioritize tasks and assign work orders. For instance, the University of Iowa deployed Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Building Advisory, which leverages digital-twin-based insights, using automated FDD to check, prioritize and assign maintenance tasks

#4. Enhancing emergency event planning.

Simulation and advanced analytic capabilities in digital twin solutions allow executives to run what-if analysis and better plan for emergencies. Facility and space managers can leverage what-if analytics to test the impact of different office designs, such as how floorplan design affects people flows and space usage, to identify the optimal layout. Executives can run simulations on specific assets or building structures to anticipate the impact of asset failures or emergency events. In the hospital sector, Hamilton Health Sciences uses digital twin software from ThoughtWire to help detect and communicate early indicators of declining patient health, driving a 60% reduction in critical patient emergencies.

To learn more about how digital twins can help address pain points and the highest-value adding use cases, please see our recent report: Verdantix High Value Use Cases For Smart Building Digital Twins.

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Joy Trinquet

Industry Analyst, Verdantix

Joy is an Industry Analyst in the Verdantix Smart Buildings practice. Her current research agenda focuses on building digital twins, BIM for operations, smart building systems integration as well as architecture, engineering and construction software. Joy joined Verdantix in 2019, and previously worked at BNP Paribas Asset Management. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics with a concentration in policy as well as dual minors in computer science and business studies from New York University.