Allplan Research: From BIM To The Digital Twin

July 24, 2020

One of the major challenges that the built environment faces is to find a way of managing resources more efficiently, whether for enhanced buildings operations management or making better use of existing building stock. Increasing digitalization has provided many different approaches to achieve this, with digital twins emerging as a powerful tool for facilities and operations management. The concept of digital twins is not new: for example, NASA has run complex simulations of spacecraft for decades. With the ubiquitous availability of cheap sensors and the ever-better possibilities in data transmission a wide range of applications open up.

What Is A Digital Twin?

What distinguishes a digital twin from any other digital model is its connection to the physical twin. Based on data from the physical built environment, a digital twin unlocks value principally by supporting improved decision making. A digital twin maximizes the benefits of Building Information Modeling (BIM) by using the model to create a dynamic operations model of the building. By enriching the virtual model with operational data, real-time status monitoring and control, diagnostics and prognostics help to optimise performance and safety of assets. Decision making can be supported about when and where to invest funding in maintenance and further development. By analyzing historical data, the building performance development can be monitored and optimized so that it always runs efficiently and reliably.

Professional Creation Of Digital Twins Starts With A Point Cloud

One of the best way’s geometrical information of a building or structure can be collected is through laser scanners, which can quickly gather point clouds even in locations that are hard to access. With a point cloud BIM modeling can be accomplished without visiting the building once again. The accuracy and type of the model depends on the purpose and scale. Digital twins can address extremely different scales: asset or building scale, neighbourhood, city or regional scale, National scale or even Global scale. Approaches to automate the creation of BIM models from point clouds have existed for decades but are still a goal of research projects ALLPLAN participates in.

Why Not Connect The Point Cloud Directly To The Live Data?

Laser scanners only create information about the visible part of buildings. But most of the assets that are important for building operational usage are invisible. HVAC, space heating, building insulation and technical installations are integrated in slabs and walls or hidden behind plaster boards. BIM models are the best technology to manage and visualize the entire building including furniture and technical equipment.

What does Allplan enable?

ALLPLAN provides the perfect platform for creating accurate and valuable 3D BIM models for the digital twin. Precise 3D models can be created quickly and easily, or an existing BIM model can be used in Allplan thanks to the included openBIM data exchange interfaces. By importing geometry derived from a point clouds, designers or facilities managers can rapidly capture information and interrogate it within the model. Once completed, an openBIM-based model collaboration platform – such as Allplan Bimplus – can be used to share and connect this information to other technologies for further optimization or analysis.

A Practical Use Case Of Digital Twins

ALLPLAN is involved in a broad variety of Digital Twin projects. In 2020 the EU funded project Buildheat has been completed that focused on the evaluation of energy refurbishment technologies of residential buildings. Sensor data was connected to the Bimplus platform to quickly identify and communicate spaces with unfavorable energy consumption values. With this information, targeted refurbishments could be planned and implemented, maximizing the building’s performance while optimizing the level of investment required. Without a digital twin, this analysis would have been difficult to accomplish; the data collected from the sensors could be easily understood and interpreted by visualizing them in the virtual building model.





A Digital Twin Solution

As digital twins continue to evolve and new uses for them emerge, finding a software solution that enables the swift creation of digital models and the ability to integrate different information sources – such as point clouds – is increasingly important. Allplan offers BIM solutions for precision modeling with architectural and engineering detail, as well as integration with point cloud scanning for the rapid incorporation of data into a digital format for further modeling and interrogation. With additional tools such as the Bimplus model collaboration platform, Allplan also provides the ability to integrate with various other technologies for file exchange or further development to create value over the entire life cycle of the building. With a complete suite of tools, operations and facilities management using digital twins has never been easier or more accessible.