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March 15, 2023

Cross-sector game changer: How the digital twin is revolutionizing building operations


Magdalena Strum

Digitalization drivers such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, 5G, smart sensors and digital twins have arrived in building automation. The fact that these driver technologies are not temporary side effects of the pandemic and energy crisis is due not least to their cross-industry optimization potential. The digital building twin in particular now forms the smart basis for new buildings, but also for the digitization of existing buildings.

The digital twin holds enormous potential for optimization over the entire life cycle of a building. The technology of the digital twin is thus increasingly becoming a game changer in the areas of smart buildings and smart cities, because in the planning of new buildings and in the operation of existing buildings, the implementation ensures more sustainability, higher efficiency and significant cost savings.

Definition and mode of operation

What we understand by a Digital twin

A digital twin is, as its name suggests, a digital image of tangible or intangible objects. But there are also digital twins of processes or services. In manufacturing, for example, digital images of machines over their entire life cycle are an established process and enable more efficient, flexible and faster production. In construction and smart building management, the digital twin is the cornerstone for automated processes, energy savings and predictive maintenance.

Whether in building operations or within the production line, the concept is always the same: For the implementation of a digital twin, large amounts of data from the physical twin are collected with the help of IoT products and platforms and then processed in a clear, vendor-neutral and uniform manner. Based on the data, users can use the virtual model for simulations, find and correct functional errors, and also derive predictions about future behavior. The valuable findings from the digital world can then be transferred one-to-one to the real object.Digital twins are now important accelerators of digitization. Maximum data transparency enables the networking and communication of IoT products with each other, and thus IoT structures as a whole, to be optimized.

Further Application Areas

Digital simulations are not only used in industry and building operations. Digital twins are conceivable in all sectors and industries. They are also used in the aerospace and automotive industries, among others. In retail, they support the optimization of supply chains. Market researchers also expect digital twins of customers, which sales companies could use in planning sales strategy and marketing campaigns.

Digital Twin

The advantages of the Digital twin for building operations

One of the most important advantages of working with a digital twin is improved decision-making. Recommendations for action that users derive from the underlying data acquisition (sensors) can be easily and automatically applied to the physical twin through feedback (actuators). The real-world insights and early fault detection provide building owners with cost savings, prevent downtime and unnecessary maintenance, and help optimize energy flow and space utilization. Building operators can monitor and control structures in real time. This also makes automated service processes in facility management possible, which ultimately leads to greater comfort for tenants and owners in residential buildings. The forward-looking technology of the digital image of a building makes it possible to network complex building structures in functional buildings, but also opens up completely new ways of optimizing buildings. For example, it lays the foundation for applications of assisted living in old age.New buildings can not only be accelerated by the technology of the digital twin, the anticipated CO2 footprint and energy efficiency of a building can also be calculated in advance. Optimizations in the construction process can also be uncovered and implemented during the planning phase, making the trial-and-error phase obsolete.

Whether for new buildings or the optimization of existing properties - all project participants can access and work with the same data at any time. Project organization and communication can thus be made significantly more efficient.

Requirements for the optimal exploitation of the Digital twin

For the digital twin to become an important driver in building development and - optimization the same basis is always needed: A solid and high quality data structure. Data sovereignty must be clearly defined and interfaces standardized. Of course, the users must also be trained to operate between the two worlds and to continuously accompany and further develop the IoT processes and data acquisition.

How to implement the digitization strategy fast and easily

With the aedifion cloud platform, you get a holistic operating picture of your building and digital twins of your assets quickly and easily. Thanks to the smart plug-and-play approach, the platform helps you to bring your entire building technology into the cloud in the shortest possible time and thus create maximum data transparency. You can reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions as needed and automate processes with the help of artificial intelligence - aedifion helps you make your building sustainable and efficient for the future.

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