The digital representation of a building’s floorplan, HVAC systems, electrical grid and other facility schematics is known as the digital twin. This technology stems from the growing and widespread application of the Internet of Things (IoT) in virtually every industry. It’s particularly affected facilities management, where virtual business operations and cloud-based storage have blown open the options for increased efficiency, reduced costs, and new business opportunities.
Digital twin technology is radically changing facility management, and the way the data is presented makes a huge difference.
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As a building’s digital twin is developed, the facility’s physical properties and systems are meshed with a framework of information communication (ICT) software and/or framework. The collected data can then be visualized in charts, graphs and other formats to represent real-time events as well as the existing characteristics and attributes of the facility’s physical equipment and operational processes.
Data can be presented in more than just 2D charts, graphs and models. For more analytical applications and large data volumes, specifically in industrial and commercial applications, data rendering in 3D and even 4D can provide far greater insight. Some data visualization software will support structured, regular and irregular grid surfaces to expand the options for viewing data in different surface dimensions.
Not only is a digital twin the virtual replica of a building’s floor plan and systems, it can obtain real-time data from functional units by way of electronic sensors. In order to retrieve the most accurate data in real-time, sensor placement is very important. When properly placed, the digital twin can monitor systems in order to adjust its virtual behavior to whatever action is necessary. The sensor(s), digital twin and physical prototype itself are all connected in the IoT software platform.
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When data is visualized in more complex presentations, such as 3D models and reactive 4D replicas, facility managers and support technicians can more accurately assess how systems are functioning. They can more quickly ascertain when repairs or maintenance is needed in any one area, which can be particularly challenging with more complex building systems.
Without an accurate, highly detailed visualization, there are ineffective and often costly setbacks:
- Preventable mechanical breakdowns, failures or outages
- Wasted time spent manually checking and/or fiddling with broken systems to find the problem
- Missed opportunities for business growth or improved service
The more detailed and accurate data renderings can be, the better equipped facility managers will be to use their digital twin most effectively.