We wonder as an industry why we aren’t moving forward and embracing technology. Is it because the technology is not actually saving any money, reducing any risk, or saving any time? Or is it because of messages from software vendors and industry that is blurring the original meanings of terminology, in an attempt to market their point of difference?

I must be honest with you to begin with, I am triggered by a lot of the marketing out there in the industry that makes these big claims about their offering being a digital twin. It is also that bad that I have seen the change in the description of what a digital twin is on Wikipedia. Ironically a digital twin has become what Building Information Modelling (BIM) was well over a decade ago, a digital representation of an existing or future built asset. Gone is the need for this digital representation to have a connection to the physical asset, which has been outlined in The Gemini Principles report from the Centre for Digital Built Britain. Noting a key paragraph from their report.

“What distinguishes a digital twin from any other digital model is its connection to the physical twin. Based on data from the physical asset or system, a digital twin unlocks value principally by supporting improved decision making, which creates the opportunity for positive feedback into the physical twin.” [1]

So, to all those people out there claiming their solution is a digital twin when it isn’t, please stop it. You are making it more confusing for the asset owners out there. The spin and jargon really must stop, for the betterment of the industry moving forward as a whole.

Here are some more opinions from some of my guests on previous podcast releases on the topic of digital twins.

The Digital Transition Podcast - Episode 12: Digital Twins with Cristina Savian

The Digital Transition Podcast - Episode 25: Digital Twins with Anna Murray

The Digital Transition Podcast - Episode 33: Digital Twins with Kate Williams

After starting a war with my previous statements, I think it is only worthwhile that I start some further debate on digital twins as a whole and what they are.

Is a digital twin just a fancy user interface into a Building Management System (BMS), a Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM)? A BMS or a CAFM system is connected to the physical built asset via sensors.

Here is a podcast I recorded with James Cheesewright on using systems like these to help asset owners save money throughout the operation phase of a built asset.

The Digital Transition Podcast - Episode 19: BIM for Preventative Maintenance with James Cheesewright

At the end of the day was a BMS of CAFM not a sexy enough marketing term to sell to asset owners? Most of the time asset owners or facility managers wouldn’t specifically need or want a model interface for the information presentation. They would want information dashboards with key information relevant to that specific person’s requirements.

That being said, I know the many benefits and use cases of where a virtual model representation of an asset is of important value to clients. The question being is it just a BIM they need for those specific use cases. And is it really a BMS or CAFM system that the client needs to gain intelligence on the performance and use of their asset to make informed decisions, with a slightly improved user interface?