Workplace Technology Assessment
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By Dave Clifton
Digital twins have become a prevalent part of many companies’ digital architecture. Often, they’re a natural tie-in to IoT networks and business clouds, alongside any number of other applications depending on the industry. And while many businesses are still figuring out how to use them, digital twin for operations management are rising in popularity. There’s plentiful opportunity in using them to enhance operations from a data-driven standpoint.
Because digital twin technology is relatively plug-and-play for many businesses, there’s no limit to the efficiency improvements possible. They’ve become a playground for facility managers, asset managers, and everyone else charged with keeping buildings productive, efficient, and operational.
Digital twins and the expanding IoT
Much of the opportunity for operational improvements digital twins present is possible due to the Internet of Things (IoT). Digital twin IoT configurations bridge the gap between the physical workplace and the digital one, and create data for tangible improvements. As the number of sensors and beacons in any given workplace rises, so do the number of data streams—and thus, so does the potential for insight.
All this data comes together in the digital twin to provide workplace managers with increasingly robust insights, such as:
- Macro trends, like the number of hotel desks reserved month-over-month
- Micro trends, like the length of time Camille reserved Desk 008 for on Wednesday
- Automations and triggers, such as submitting a cleaning ticket between room reservations
- Inefficiencies, such as viewing which desks suffer poor utilization and why
- Asset information, such as the number of cycles the copier ran last month
The office IoT network aggregates these insights into the digital twin, where they become presentable information management can review. The result is actionable change to the physical workplace, using digital insights.
Continuous operational efficiency
Data is the key to better decision-making. IoT data about the physical workplace becomes a catalyst for understanding why and how people interact with their surroundings the way they do. With this understanding comes an opportunity to make meaningful, informed changes.
A digital twin operations management example worth considering involves space utilization. Seat sensor data at a workstation might show a paltry 22% utilization rate for the month. By comparison, similar desks show a 74% average utilization rate. Facility managers can take this data point and delve into the digital twin of their workplace to better understand it.
- Where is this desk located in comparison to others like it?
- What times of the day was it occupied most often? Which days?
- How long per session was the desk occupied?
- What amenities or features does the desk offer?
- What is its maintenance record and are there service tickets logged?
Digital twins enable what manufacturers might call a “root cause analysis.” Facility managers can probe all potential catalysts behind an anomaly to understand what’s causing it. Then, using data, they form a thesis and take corrective action. This is the foundation for continuous workplace improvements and continuous operational efficiency.
In this example, the FM might discover any number of issues. The desk is too close to a disruptive thoroughfare. Or, it could be too small to work at comfortably. Maybe it’s damaged and needs service? Whatever the root cause, there’s an opportunity to fix it.
Data as the defining factor for workplaces
Digital twins represent an abundance of data, made accessible. As buildings grow smarter and more technologies generate digital insights about the physical workplace, facility managers have more opportunities to understand it. The more they understand it, the better they can govern it. The effects compound into everything from better workplace efficiency, to improved productivity, to cost control, and even improved company culture. At the center of it all is the digital twin, guiding data-backed decision-making as a source of truth.
Digital twins lay the foundation for operational improvements
While software like IWMS and CAFM have enabled facility managers to make amazing improvements to workplaces, true efficiency comes from understanding how people interact with their surroundings. That’s where digital twins come in. IoT data synced up to digital twins paints a robust picture of the effects of physical workplace changes. It’s not enough to switch up the desking concept or rearrange a space—you need to know how it affects the people within it.
Digital twins for operations management adds a whole new layer to data-driven facilities management. In the same way digital twins bridge the gap between the physical workplace and the digital one, they also bridge the gap between facilities and operations. With this key piece of the puzzle, companies can relentlessly pursue efficiency improvements, one data point or trend at a time.
Keep reading: How to Use Digital Twin Software