Digital Twins in engineering maintenance

A digital twin; it’s a buzz phrase that you’ll hear at the moment, or read about in the industry press, but what is a digital twin and how can you use them to improve your facilities and asset management?

A digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical asset. That means it can represent a building, a floor or space, or even a singular asset such as a pump or a boiler. Similarly, they can be as basic as a 2D drawing of a floor plan through to a complex point cloud scan, with BIM integration that dynamically represents your estate.

Digital twins present a wealth of opportunity. They allow owners, occupiers, and operators to maximise lifecycle costs, run scenarios, troubleshoot faults and problems, and collate maintenance and operating data.

This data provides us with powerful insights into the operation of our assets, systems, and estates and therefore provides a focused aggregation of real data and information upon which decisions can be made or thoughts and conjecture disproved. Individually or at scale across a broad estate and portfolio.

Whilst we will be familiar with BIM on new construction projects, we can take the same principals when looking to retrofit and deploy a digital twin on an existing asset or building. Where data is not available, a series of scans or surveys may be required, as the foundation to build the model. Ultimately the success of the digital twin model is keeping the model up to date, and this will mean aggregating data from 3rd party applications such as a BMS system, CAFM or even IoT sensors.

Creating a digital twin need not be complicated, the accessibility of the technology in terms of user ability and relative reduction in costs have brought such practices closer to the mainstream and they will continue to be so.