Preparing for Operations with a Digital Project Twin

Preparing for Operations with a Digital Project Twin Part 2 of the series Achieving Digital Transformation: Digital Twin Maturity Levels. At Invicara, we define a Digital Twin as a rich information model about a physical building, or a virtual building. A Digital Twin integrates data, documents and building models and plans across multiple systems, creating custom solutions for your business. In this blog series, we cover the five different maturity levels involved in developing a Digital Twin, detailing how each level brings a layer of insight into your building data, providing the tools needed to operate at peak performance throughout your building’s lifecycle. Achieving Digital Transformation through a Digital Twin allows owners to access better data faster, enabling greater efficiency and ultimately saving money throughout operations. However, the industry has been slow to adopt digital strategies because of the time and upfront costs associated with getting the critical data required. In our last blog post, we discussed the first level of Digital Twin maturity, detailing the importance of creating a digital information strategy to identify the right information and the right stakeholders to provide that information. Building upon this strategy, we’ll take a look at the second step of the maturity process, the creation of a Project Twin. A Project Twin offers two key areas of value. First, it provides a flexible environment for information collection throughout design, construction and commissioning – setting the stage for Asset and Performance Twins during operations. Second, it gives owners a new way to gather and manage critical sustainability data.

The Project Twin and Information Management

After a digital information strategy has been defined, we have to ask, “how do we get there?” The capital phase of a building is a fragmented process, with many different project team members each focusing on very different goals. For instance, the design team is responsible for construction documentation (the “CD set”). Some of the information the owner needs for operations is created then. Once the design is complete, the CD set is given to the construction team who, in turn, creates construction models, submittals, and more. Again, more of the owner’s operational data is generated. At commissioning, the final pieces of data and documents are captured and, finally, the construction team tries to pull together all of the information to deliver it to the owner during handover. But, because each team member has a different business goal and different ways of using information, information management is a siloed process that doesn’t give the owner the critical information they need. With this in mind, it’s important for a project team to identify an information manager that serves as the owner’s representative. The information manager could be the owner themselves, an AEC firm, or a consultant like one of Invicara’s industry experts. Regardless of who the information manager is, it is critical to identify a project team representative whose purpose is to ensure information is gathered, per the owner requirements, throughout the lifecycle of the project. Once an information manager has been identified, the development of the Project Twin can begin. At this phase, data collection is active and is housed in a centralized cloud platform to not only improve accessibility to the information, but to structure the data in a uniform manner. Also, at this stage, owners can leverage the project team’s BIM competencies and deliverables. With the proper planning and oversight, the models created for design and construction serve as the foundation for the Project Twin and, later, the Asset Twin and Performance Twin of the building.

The Project Twin and Sustainability

For CRE firms, sustainable buildings are more attractive to prospective tenants. In fact, many large corporations and retailers have goals to improve their sustainability to attract customers and investors. As a result, many tenants require certain green building ratings to help them reduce the carbon footprint of their portfolio throughout design, construction, and operations. A carbon footprint for a building includes embedded carbon in the materials, direct and indirect emissions during the capital phase, and carbon generated during operations. A project twin can provide critical data to measure the building’s carbon footprint and can serve as the as-designed baseline for future operational sustainability analytics. Another aspect to consider when improving sustainability is the idea of circularity, which includes evaluating the building materials to determine whether they are sustainably sourced, reusable, or recyclable. Just like a carbon footprint, this can all be put together to give you a way to measure your buildings in terms of sustainability. In its essence, a Project Twin supports information gathering, allows for efficient handover, and serves as a platform for planning and lifecycle analysis of a property. With an information manager ensuring that all project team members understand the workflow, information gathering becomes efficient and effective, setting the stage for the next level of digital maturity, the creation of an Asset Twin. Keep an eye out for this next blog post in the series, “Achieving Digital Transformation: Digital Twin Maturity Levels,” to learn how the Asset Twin brings together building graphics, data, documents, and more, to create a unified and living Asset Information Model.

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