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What is a digital twin? Here's how data visualization is reshaping architecture, engineering, and construction

What is a Digital Twin?

A Digital Twin is a virtual model that is an exact copy (twin) of a physical object or system which represents its entire lifecycle. This could be a building, HVAC system, bridge, transit system, etc...

Connected sensors monitor the physical asset, collect data, and map it directly onto the virtual model. This gives facility managers and capital planners the ability to view real-time information about the physical thing.

A digital twin uses data from connected sensors to demonstrate how an asset will perform through its entire useful lifecycle. With data from the Internet of Things (IoT), it is possible to measure specific indicators of asset health and performance, such as temperature and humidity.

Incorporating this data in the virtual model (aka the digital twin) gives architects and engineers a full view of how buildings and systems are currently performing with real-time data from the physical assets themselves.

Here are the top 5 benefits of digital twins for Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC):

As the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud-computing technologies continue to drive digital transformation for Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC), the digital twin is gaining traction.

1. Better Physical Asset Lifecycle Prediction

Digital Twins allow facility management teams to understand the current status of physical assets while also providing a peek into the future of asset lifecycle. Data collected by connected sensors enables facility managers to better analyze how physical assets and systems will perform in the future.

2. Modelling Future Performance

Digital Twins make it possible for engineers to run computer simulations to understand how the system would perform in various real-world scenarios.

3. Monitoring Physical Assets Remotely

Digital Twins give engineers and operators the ability to monitor buildings and systems when they are off-site. They can access a detailed view of physical assets from anywhere. This eliminates the need for facility managers and engineers to be on-site at all times.

4. Data-Driven Decisions

Digital Twins enable facility managers and engineers to make smarter business decisions based on accurate data. Digital Twins provide rich data sets that help building owners and operators to maximize physical asset performance which in turn maximizes capital planning investments. 

5. Improved Building Maintenance and Operations

Digital Twins make it possible to make facility operations more efficient because all maintenance is documented in a digital ledger. With digital twins, it is easier to aggregate data from multiple sources to create a single source for data analysis. This means facility managers can monitor the maintenance of physical assets and predict material and labor cycles, which reduces waste and enhances efficiency.

As digital twins gain momentum in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC), building operators and owners will be able to strategize the long-range planning of the performance of assets. In the future, digital twins could become the foundation for the urban environment to be more resilient in the face of global challenges.

FOUNDATION is Facility and Capital Planning software that supports facility condition assessment and facility services programs

Benefits of The FOUNDATION Solution by Intellis:

  • Create a single source of asset data across all building and systems portfolios.
  • Deliver consistent and valuable Facility Condition Assessment data across all asset types including building and site assets.
  • Powerful reporting and analytics so your team has access to real-time KPIs that support benchmarking, decision making, and performance monitoring.
  • Manage multiple asset portfolios, knowing where best to spend budget for optimal asset performance.
  • Develop informed and dynamic capital investment strategies while identifying funding risks and opportunities.

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