Acquiring 2020 vision through a Digital Twin

In order to reach a 2020 vision, you need an ecosystems approach and a focus on the benefits that you want from it.

Sinclair:  So, Building Whisperer, what is this I hear that you are quitting building automation? Any truth to that? I thought you just got started

Waern:  FAKE NEWS!! Definitely fake news. But I understand where it’s coming from. The truth is that Go-IoT are seeing some great uptake right now with our products and I believe our future is bigger than our past. I will remain in the company but take a more strategic role, focus on Key Accounts, closing deals, using my global network as it was intended, as well as pursuing some other hands-on initiatives.

Sinclair:  You got me worried there… I’m guessing you can tell us more about the immediate future?

Waern:  Well, what do you know Ken, I am going to do just that! There are two main opportunities that I’m looking at.
I might have found a way to possibly augment BACnet and the likes to create a real-time messaging system that works in parallel with existing systems, turning legacy systems into microservices. Basically, making slow networks fast. It takes the cutting edge from Industry 4.0 and possibly makes it applicable to the BAS industry. After all, a building is a building, and factories are pretty interesting too!

And I am also about to go neck deep into a cost-saving investigation for one of our customers, proving that connectivity makes sense from a real estate owner-business standpoint.

Sinclair:  Sounds intriguing! Especially about making slow networks fast. How do you find these opportunities?

Waern:  I’ll try to make it short…;

Opportunity 1 – Cost Reduction Investigation.
At the beginning of June, a customer of ours needed help in understanding how they could digitize their portfolio in the best way possible. But they wanted to see how he could cut costs, and not focusing so much on the tech itself, as the benefits derived from it. The cost reduction investigation, CRI, went hand in hand with the fact that the business still needs to prove a linear connection between investing in tech, and proven ROI for the 3/30/300/(3000) rule.

So that’s partly my focus for the future as well. We’ve had a successful workshop, opening up the books, with the intent of slashing costs by up to 20% across the board. It’s not easy, but someone has to do it!

Opportunity 2 – Real-time messaging platform
A week after I had signed up for the CRI, I was approached by someone in my Linkedin network the second week of June. He had helped one of the largest automotive manufacturers in connecting their factories. What he did have was knowledge on how to make slow systems fast, and he had been headhunted for some truly impressive initiatives. He already had the demand, but not the supply, nor the business acumen of starting something real. And that’s why he did what any sane person would. He asked for help.

Now, 1.5 week later, we have eight advisors on board, two additional people in the core team, a pretty solid go to market strategy, creating a new company this week, with several contracts in the pipeline. Exciting times, to say the least!

Sinclair:  Wow! That sounds exciting! The CRI sounds interesting, can you tell us more about it? What is it that you are doing?

Waern:  Sure! In short, they want to use a digital twin as the single point of information source when managing their buildings/portfolio.

It all started last year when I had a workshop with the customer where I was giving the whole smart building talk, for the first half, and then just a Q&A after lunch. What the customer really wanted, was what I discussed here, which actually is quite similar to what the VW Group is after as well in their new push. They are after productivity improvements and optimization of processes, as well as creating an open industry platform to include other companies.

It went from a technology first discussion to a more benefit driven approach. Which is why, right now, we are not only looking at costs associated with the assets. But also, how people are working with the assets, and how much cost savings we can cut out when working with a digital twin.

Sinclair:  Do you have any examples for our readers?

Waern:  I thought you’d never ask! The below points are only some of the things that came up after the first workshop, and they revolve mainly around their largest asset, which is a huge mall. We are digging into some other metrics as well, where we are looking at their largest operating expenses. But this list is pretty fun, and it’s basically the customer itself that came up with these things. It’s up to me to vet them and find a strategy that works.

Group 1 (rental / marketing / management)

  • To be able to show store concepts in Virtual Reality for potential tenants. And then automatically purchase inventory based on the objects put in the Digital Twin.
  • See visitor counters live in the model and produce better statistics than today at a fraction of the cost (no service agreement)
  • Measure where the visitors are, do they only go through or buy something in a store? Heat mapping, together with a cash register system.
  • Statistics follow-up, to avoid switching between different programs (excel as a carrier between programs)
  • Make apartment inspections on an iPad, being able to point to a wall and see when it was wallpapered last and be able to order actions directly in the app
  • Follow-up for the Floor manager role – order things directly to contractors
  • Make fault reports smarter – Tenants can do via the web/app and get a live update when the work is done. For the landlord, you can order external contractors via the same system and be invoiced automatically with invoices that know which job they belong to (the right marking against the right job) link the measures to the digital twin and its point cloud.
  • Key management should be paired with the access system so that the keys fit and have the right access rights.
  • Fire protection and SBA (Safety Fire related) rounds, these must be done in an app, and the measures can be ordered and acknowledged in the same app. Today only SBA rounding in the app, but action “manually” inserted.
  • The maintenance plan is automatically updated when the plant register is updated after measures have been taken in the property.
  • Create a platform that can incorporate the financial system / business system / rental system
  • A snow depth sensor on the roof and ground.
  • Fire extinguisher sensor

Simply put, better information management – all tasks must match in all places. Then we can launch a complete stand-alone platform taking control of the past and the future.

Group 2 (Finance/reporting/project/sustainability)

  • To be able to do correct and more efficient project follow-up with the information that already exists in the BIM model from the construction stage.
  • Component material insights (frame, facade, etc.) and update of the plant register.
  • Automatic monitoring of operating costs. For example, water, electricity and district heating. Today, this happens in excel with data from the invoice. Meter numbers on the invoice should be able to be linked to the premises that will bear the cost.
  • The invoicing of invoices is done manually today, in the future with E-invoice, these should be able to be automatically posted to the correct cost carrier. The best way would be if we could connect so that the invoice is produced by the contractor in the error reporting system he receives from the order. Then we issue the right information that is then based on the invoice.
  • Announcement to tenants, the vision is to be able to produce notification list by 1 button press, not 20. The surface and the agreements must match, and if a change of the surface or the cost, it must be automatically adjusted to the next notification list created. (agreements against surfaces so that everything is correct will mean that operating costs will be direct instead of a-account.
  • Building materials used in the building can be compiled directly and correctly and run with the construction product assessment directly in the model.
  • Being able to sync the information to other sources, such as the municipality’s food metrics

Group 3 (technology / external management / customer service)

  • Solve key management and lock management much smarter
  • For renovations, example stove related – have all information about warranty and abnormal wear in the model so that you know when to replace it or how to correct it.
  • Follow up sanding and quantity of this. where and when did we last sand?
  • Better and more precise monitoring of operation and lifts. Lifts to save money on lift alarms and operation to save energy.
  • Problems to inform Tenants about work that takes place in or around their leased area, with an App for the customer experience, they can follow who is performing the action and what time etc. easier to plan for the property owner when we plan together with the contractor and the tenant.

Sinclair:  That was… a handful! And you say that these are only some of the issues at hand? Incredible. I suppose by getting more overview, and metrics around these in real time, there’s potential for huge cost savings! Very interesting.

CRI cost reduction initiative as well as an Industry 4.0 stance. This sounds like very exciting times. Anything else for last words?

Waern:  Well, it’s all about getting to that 2020 vision and doing it fast. I predict that there will be a massive demand for smart buildings very soon and the ones that plan, or most importantly, act, will get a tremendous return of investment.

It’s not so much about technology as it is about harvesting data and helping customers make sense of it, and capitalize on it. In order to reach a 2020 vision, you need an ecosystems approach and a focus on the benefits that you want from it. It’s a collaborating act if I ever saw one. Getting inspiration from other industries is a must, and I can see that the industrial realm is moving much faster than the building automation market. Taking the cutting edge from that realm, and moving it into BAS side of things will leapfrog most initiatives that are out there today.

The Digital Twin will be more in focus in the next decade than ever before; I see that more clearly now than ever. And for final words, don’t just talk about it, go out there and do something!

And as always, to everyone reading this, don’t hesitate to reach out to me if there’s anything you need.

Thanks, Ken, you are the best!

/The building Whisperer
Nicolas Waern

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