What is a Digital Twin & How Can it Streamline Operations?


A digital twin is a virtual model of a physical asset, a bridge that connects the physical and digital world.  It’s set up to represent the structure and behavior of a piece of equipment or a building.

The primary use case is to remotely monitor and manage systems previously only accessible in person. This proactive approach helps head off problems before they even occur, prevent downtime, and enable collaboration from different stakeholders.

There are multiple types of digital twins. In general, the various applications balance the robustness of the model with how quickly and affordably the digital twin can be implemented.

For instance, a digital twin can be developed using BIM models, which would provide very detailed replicas. However, BIM models are rarely updated after initial commissioning. Furthermore, this technique is quite time consuming and expensive.

Another option is to create a digital twin using more basic imaging techniques and by integrating IoT devices to provide real-time data and insight into conditions.

This video helps explain what digital twin software is and how it can be used to streamline building operations in commercial real estate.

Why It Matters

Digital twins have been around for a while in industries such as manufacturing and construction. Now that the internet of things has made real-time data ubiquitous, digital twins are beginning to be applied to ongoing building operations as well.

Digital twins help commercial real estate owners and managers to effectively optimize the operation and maintenance of property assets, systems and processes.

How Does It Work

There are two critical pieces needed to create a digital twin.

    1. Visualization

Managers need to see the asset. Visualization can be done through a BIM model that helps to understand how the building is set up and structured to keep everyone on the same page. It can be through a 3D scan with a point cloud that allows better understanding the space in utter detail . Or it can be as simple as photographs of the space and all the major pieces of equipment of buildings.

    2. Data

It can be static information such as nameplates, model numbers, etc. It can also be historic information such as runtime hours. Or it could be, given the internet of things, real-time sensor data.

With these two pieces, a clear picture is presented. For example, imagine a portfolio with a number of buildings and there’s a problem in one of them: pump #4 on the 8th floor has gone down. Now, there could be a message that says “operator on the ground, please go and service this.” But there is no context.

The Head of Operations is managing multiple buildings across different states and can’t be in two places at one time. With the digital twin, he can more effectively aid this situation by seeing the actual piece of equipment that’s having the issue, getting information about it using the real-time data. The more experienced operator  can pull up fault detection, documentation, analytics, and set up the work order.

Using that context, the engineer on the ground who may or may not know that building very well can be put in touch with other individuals who can aid and support with dealing and rectifying problems, which ultimately helps to streamline and optimize operations in buildings.

Enertiv Digital Twin

Enertiv 360 embeds real-time data and digitized documentation into a detailed replica of every critical system in a building to enable operators to access their assets from anywhere.