Leveraging digital twins for better outcomes

by Dr Graham Kelly | April 26, 2024 |  4 min read

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Data is at the heart of any technological innovation which is why we need data to empower our digital twins.

The importance of unlocking the power of data is globally recognised however, organisations do not always make the best use of data as it can often be hard to access, not in easily usable formats and often incomplete. This is compounded by a lack of clear processes for data management and use across many sectors amplifying these challenges.

However, if we look to create a collective pool of connected data, this can have a transformative effect and bring about greater efficiencies across the whole asset lifecycle. Subsequent to this is where we can turn to digital twin, with it allowing us to make better decisions based on smart insights derived from that data.

Whilst there is a need to bridge the data capability gap, we can begin to leverage the data we already have to unlock the insights and ensuing better outcomes that digital twin has to offer.

Core concepts of the digital twin

Digital twins can offer a comprehensive view of an asset, even if it is made up of thousands of different components. To start our journey we need to first look at the core concepts of the digital twin; the physical asset, the digital entity and the bi-directional loop between them – so that we begin to tailor its capability, technology and insights according to an organisation’s requirements.

These core components and how we build on them were the focus of a recent live event which I delivered together with one of BIM Academy’s leading digital consultants on the digital twin, Dean Douglas. The Smart Decisions, Smart Buildings: Using Digital Twins for Better Outcomes event was streamed live on Thursday 25 April, when Dean and I shared the transformative potential of digital twins in the realm of operations and maintenance. How digital twins enable data driven decision making, optimise building performance, and enhance user experience.

We gave a comprehensive overview of the benefits and applications of digital twins in building management, some of which I have summarised in the five key points below:

  1. Start with building a data foundation. The creation of building a digital twin is a long journey. While building capability is important, if you do not have robust, well maintained data in the first instance, everything else falls over!
  2. Understand the journey. Know where you need to be before you start and plan each stage carefully. You need to understand the benefits of the creation of a digital twin at each step. It is very difficult to jump straight to the utopia of automating everything with AI. While it is good to have a long term vision, do not let this cloud judgement on next steps. Start small, think big…
  3. What do you need from your digital twin? Always consider what’s possible, alongside what is needed. Do not let the software market dictate your steps toward developing a digital twin; really understand what is needed within your organisation. Set out clear goals and objectives: what do you need your digital twin to do? What outcomes do you want to see? Then select the best means for reaching these outcomes. Not all technology is fit for purpose, tailor the technology to your needs,
  4. Align your goals and gain collaborative buy in. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. It doesn’t matter how good your strategy and vision are for the digital twin, if the whole organisation isn’t behind you, this is where cracks will emerge. You need total team buy in for your plan to succeed.
  5. You don’t need to start again. Every organisation will have processes and procedures in place to collate and manage information. Our advice is to assess where you are now and build upon it. No doubt there is already excellent work: evolve and improve from current ways of working to work towards an optimum solution tailored to your organisation.

There is no limit!

Many would say the sky’s the limit, but with digital twin there is no limit, data is infinite and so are the insights that it has to offer. By following the above five steps, you can avoid waste and rework, make significant cost savings, make targeted interventions and ensure the impact of digital twin is felt within your organisation.

To understand more about maximising the potential of your data and leveraging digital twin for better outcomes, watch the event on demand and hear first hand from Dean and myself as we give examples of use cases where clients are winning with digital twins.

If you would like to know more about the application of the digital twin and how it can support your projects and assets, contact Dean Douglas at [email protected].

Watch on demand

About the author

Dr Graham Kelly

Managing Director, BIM Academy

Graham is responsible for leading strategy and implementation of digital transformation strategies specific to clients’ real needs. This goes beyond BIM: it is as much about the people as it is about the technology. He has over 10 years’ experience in construction and academia, also completing a PhD in early 2015.