Not all Twins are created equal

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The concept of mirroring physical assets in the virtual realm has been around as early as the 1960s. NASA has carried out the twinning idea, most notably during its Apollo 13 moon mission, in which digital duplicates were created to match the systems of their spacecrafts. The term “Digital Twin” was later coined by John Vickers, principal technologist at NASA, with its concept and model introduced publicly in 2002 by Michael Grieves, scientist for advanced manufacturing at Florida Institute of Technology.

Fast forward to present time, Digital Twin technology is transforming the built environment as an advanced, digitised mirror of physical assets and infrastructure. With this emerging technology evolving at light speed and ripe for market leaders at its forefront, what separates Willow’s solution from other key players? More importantly, what are some of the key lessons learned that owners should be conscious of when adopting Digital Twins?

BIM ≠ Twin

While the term “Digital Twin” rolls easily off the virtual page and into the imagination, it’s important to recognise that not all twins are created equal, as our Global Head of Real Estate and Willow President, Shaun Klann explains.

There are misconceptions that BIM and Twin are synonymous. However, this is far from the case. For example, a conventional 3D BIM model does not represent the living operations of a building or piece of infrastructure, as it does not include live data feeds from any sensors or submetering system.”

BIM is not a fundamental requirement for Digital Twin creation. It is simply one aspect of creating spatial context for asset data, but this can easily be created with any spatial context format. In fact, this is often the standard method used by Willow when creating Digital Twins of existing assets,” Klann says.

Buildings and infrastructure are a lot like snowflakes

Whilst a digitally driven approach is already standard operating procedure for many other industries including manufacturing, finance, and telecommunications, the challenge for the built environment has been the highly individual and specialised nature of project delivery. Simply put, each project has unique circumstances, constraints, and players that makes the scalability of digital practices inherently difficult.

Digital Twins developed for other industries such as manufacturing have a strategic advantage that real estate and infrastructure projects lack,” Klann says.

Specifically, when a Digital Twin is developed for, say an automotive engine, the manufacturer of that engine benefits from the scaled nature of production. Millions of dollars of R&D and custom software can be justified because they produce thousands of identical products.

Developing Digital Twins for buildings and infrastructure carries a number of inherent obstacles that can be mitigated by having the right partner for the job.

When selecting your partner, pedigree is essential

Willow’s long history across a range of sectors has allowed the company to leverage the Digital Twin concepts for the specific requirements within real estate and infrastructure projects.

Our background gives us first-hand understanding of what contractors, owners, and facilities managers need,” says Klann. “Willow accounts for the unique workflows and requirements of the construction, building operations, and infrastructure industry.

An example of this is Willow’s Twin Creator, a module within the WillowTwin™ that collects and validates all the necessary data points for Digital Twin creation during construction. Through the Twin Creator, head contractors and asset owners can better manage supply chain deliverables and have full transparency of their data.

The approach also means that a Digital Twin can be created for an existing asset, even where BIM documentation is non-existent.

You need the right team of experts to guide the process

As Digital Twins are still in their infancy in the built world, Willow takes a hands-on approach to working with our customers. In many instances, the project delivery team needs support to create, validate, and manage data in the right way.

Willow embeds digital project managers amongst the design and delivery team working on the owner’s behalf. Our team ensures information is being created in the right way.

Willow works as the hub between contractor, subcontractor, and the owner to ensure the project vision will be delivered effectively.

Digital Twins should be integration-ready and secure

Another vital aspect of a functional and useful Digital Twin is the ability to integrate with and have interoperability with other data sources including third-party apps and software packages.

Most of us have experienced the frustration of a software package or digital device that simply is not compatible with an app we really want to use. Take that to a building or infrastructure scale and there lies a massive problem.

Willow sees that the Digital Twin is more than just a tool for data storage. It is a gateway for users to access best-in-class smart building technology from around the world,” Klann says.

The vision for Willow’s technology is to use the Digital Twin as an integration layer to enable a fast and secure connection with 3rd party software providers. Through a single integration to Willow, customers can access a Marketplace of best-in-class solutions, integrating quickly and securely with their data.

The true power of Willow is when multiple applications interact to produce new insights that owners need. For example, correlating your building floor plate with occupancy, ventilation, cleaning, and even social distancing data to create smart alarms and warnings for owners, so you can be as proactive and as safe as possible. 

Finally, Digital Twins are not just for boffins

Whist Digital Twin creation takes extremely skilled and talented groups of people working with vast amounts of data and complex code, the end result must have a user-friendly interface.

Willow’s software has been designed in such a way that any project team or facilities management personnel can quickly learn and upskill on the platform. 

Our ambition is to develop solutions that make the complex simple,” he says. “When we develop products, we have a rule: ‘From seven to seventy years old’,” Klann explains. “We want products to be intuitive as much as they are powerful.

Willow’s vision is that the Digital Twin will enable a big data play for real estate and infrastructure that provides value for multiple user groups including owners, operators, and occupants. “Whilst we are focusing primarily on building operations at present, our roadmap will include use cases and functionality for other user groups in the industry.

Where to start?

The concept of a Digital Twin offers great potential for organisations in the built world with the promise to increase operational efficiency, drive resource optimisation, improve asset management, deliver cost savings, improve productivity, and boost user engagement.

Willow sees that 2020 is the year where Digital Twins become commonplace and are widely accepted as a fundamental technology solution.

Klann says the Real Estate and Infrastructure verticals are “embarking on their own Industry 4.0 moment,” thanks largely in part to Digital Twin technology.

Major players in both industries are looking for ways to leverage their own big data and the resulting applications of machine learning, artificial intelligence and the like. We have been working closely with many bluechip companies to create the Digital Twin strategy, and can attest that whilst the industry is still in its early development, those investing now will reap the benefits long term.

If you are interested in how Digital Twins can benefit your portfolio or project, please reach out to Willow.

About Willow
Willow is the digital twin for the built world. Our mission is to empower every person and organisation to connect with the built world in a whole new way. For more, visit www.willowinc.com

For media inquiries, email us at PR@willowinc.com

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Dale Brett

Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder

Dale is the Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer at Willow, Australia’s fastest growing provider of smart technology for the built world. With a personal drive to solve complex and real-world problems with technological solutions, Dale leads the technology, product, and innovation at Willow.

In the last two years alone, Dale has led the ideation and implementation of groundbreaking technologies such as the WillowTwin™ Technology Platform, the Marketplace, and the WillowRail Operations to name a few. The technology is now being utilised by the world’s largest real estate owners, including Microsoft, AXA, and Investa Property Group. The common goal being, to make the world more sustainable, connected, intuitive, and innovative.

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Joshua Ridley

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Joshua oversees the strategic direction, growth, and management of Willow. He is passionate about culture, people, and growing a global company that has a positive impact on our world.

Joshua has built a reputation for his strong leadership and innovation with some of the largest and most admired owners of infrastructure and real estate, including the Durst Organisation and Macquarie. He believes in building a global network of strong partners and has spearheaded partnerships with leading organisations such as Microsoft, thyssenkrupp, and Strukton Rail.

He has overseen the development of over $10B of projects through Design and Construction in a senior leadership capacity, and has partnered with preeminent architects, including KPF, Foster & Partners, Perkins Will, and Grimshaw. In Australia, he has worked on major projects with companies including Investa, GPT, Mirvac, Grocon, Brookfield, Multiplex, John Holland, CPB, Pontiac, Star, and NSW Government.

Joshua is our lead corporate spokesperson, covering the history of Willow, our vision for the built world, client engagements, and breaking stories.

Gerard Francis

CEO WillowRail, Global Head of Infrastructure

Gerard oversees the strategic direction, growth, and management of WillowRail and Willow’s Infrastructure operations.

With a wealth of experience in the Infrastructure space, Gerard has utilised his depth of knowledge and leadership to provide strong governance, strategic direction and operational stability as Willow enters a new phase of growth and maturity.

Scott Smith

Global Head of Microsoft Partnership

Scott is responsible for building out the Willow partnership with Microsoft, identifying and executing on the significant opportunity for both organisations resulting from the unprecedented computing power available via the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge.

Adrian Fisk

Chief Financial Officer & Global Head of Partnerships

Adrian’s responsibilities include strategic direction, financial performance, partnership management, and processes across Willow’s global network of offices.

Tess Hattingh

Chief Operating Officer

Tess has an overarching role across many facets of the Willow business, from company strategy to HR, Marketing, and Operations.

With over 20 years’ experience, Tess ensures the wheels are oiled and the Willow way is upheld.

Toni Trumbull

Client Director

Toni works closely with our Real Estate customers to explore new digital strategies designed to create value for their business. As part of this role, her responsibility is to communicate the customer voice back to the Willow team to ensure complete alignment and success.
 
Toni has over 15 years experience in the management and operations of commercial assets for large institutions as well as having a strong passion for science and technology and how it applies to the built world. This passion and the critical role data plays in the digitisation of Real Estate has led Toni to undertake a Masters in Data Science, complimenting her degree in Property Economics.

Catherine Harding

Legal Counsel

Catherine provides legal guidance and support across company activities and oversees compliance with regulatory and industry requirements. She is the in-house Counsel for both Willow and EG.

Catherine has extensive experience in international and domestic public policy development, and communications.

Mary Carroll-Coelho

Customer Success Manager

Mary actively works with and listens to our customers. Together, they define the future partnership between Willow and their company. She defines the key problems to solve; often describing her work as, “helping our partners figure out if they want socks or warm feet.” What the real issue is and how data can help us solve it.

Mary has spent the last ten years working in architecture, construction technology, and education. She has overseen the construction of designs ranging from 5,000 sf to 1,400 ac. She has worked with leaders in the design industry including KieranTimberlake Architects and Atelier Jean Nouvel. As a manager in the Construction Innovation Studio at the We Company, Mary has worked across the globe and understands the benefit and need for data in the real estate industry.

Experience

Experience provides a seamless, intuitive and enjoyable mobile experience that incorporates the latest in emerging building technologies including smart access control for doors, lifts and lockers all controlled via your smart phone. The app is a powerful tool to attract and retain tenant engagement whilst providing powerful analytics and insights.

Time Machine

Time Machine is a native Willow application that enables users to compare & analyse live data, troubleshoot faults, and discover insightful trends across an entire portfolio.

Command Platform

Command Platform is a single interface for all operational aspects of your digital twin, including operational performance, live information from edge devices and inputs from third-party applications.

Live Data

Live Data is a SaaS feature of Willow. It aggregates data in real time from all devices at a portfolio or infrastructure network-wide level and enables a connection-friendly data set for third parties to read and leverage data via the Willow App Store.

Cube

Cube is a fully secure, supported plug and play device that enables all the benefits and value of Willow’s solution for your building or infrastructure network/vehicle. Installing a Cube creates an environment where apps from any language and framework can run securely on the edge, whilst streaming live data to the cloud.

Twin Creator

Twin Creator provides insights into digital twin creation. By
tracking spatial data, asset data and live data inputs, it allows
users to validate the progress of the twin visually and intuitively.
Through the Twin Creator, head contractors and owners can
better manage their stakeholders and supply chain deliverables,
reducing defects and data loss.

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Daniel Kalnins

Global Head of Digital

Daniel is responsible for the technical and strategic direction of the Digital Engineering Services Team. He is also a member of the Senior Executive Team in helping shape the path of the current and future business focus.

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General Manager, Manila

Rachel leads the overall operations and general management of the Manila office to ensure all activities are aligned with the company business objectives.

She serves as a key part of the Operations Executive Group with input into the strategies formulated for operational growth, practice improvements, efficient resourcing and project delivery, culture development, and structure across the whole business.

Rachel oversees all Manila-based Shared-Services Teams and manages the execution of an effective and collaborative approach in providing support to the global company operations.

Andrew Phelan

Vice President Operations, North America

Andrew oversees the delivery and implementation of Willow’s solutions to all customers across the region.

Justin Gurney

Global Program Manager

Justin is responsible for the management and delivery of all contracted projects across all regions. He is inspired by Willow’s vision and drive to transform the property industry and brings to Willow over 25 years of experience in architecture and construction.

Dr. Michael Easson, AM FRICS FAICD

Director and Co-Founder

Michael guides Willow’s vision and strategic direction, provides corporate governance oversight and assists the company in fostering strategic long-term relationships. Michael’s experience in infrastructure and property is extensive across the private and public sectors, with over 35 years experience in real estate development and investment.

Adam Geha

Executive Director and Co-Founder

Adam is responsible for guiding Willow’s capital raising activities and regularly reviewing financial strategy and performance.

In addition to his role with Willow, Adam is the CEO and Co-founder of EG Funds Management, where he has led and supervised over USD 1.8 billion in commercial property investment and development for over 20 years.

Lee Fogarty

Principal & Head of Pre-Contracts

Lee leads the proposals and commercial engagement frameworks company wide. He specializes in contractual negotiations and strategic leadership of the digital delivery of building information modeling driving architectural procurement, facility handover and building operations.

Lee has been involved in a large number of projects from design phase into construction and operation. He knows how to harness the latest technologies to build buildings in the virtual world creating streamlined documentation that facilitates more cost and time efficient projects.

Shaun Klann

President, Global Head of Real Estate

Shaun leads the United States and European operations of Willow as well as managing the company’s Real Estate operations. With a background combining engineering, strategic consulting, and property development, Shaun has come to be recognised as one of North America’s most sought after smart building experts.

Shaun is our lead spokesperson for growth in the US and Europe.

Rani Adam

Chief Innovation Engineer

Rani oversees the technical development and engineering on a global scale. His experience to date, having produced technology for a spectrum of sectors, is both visionary and practical. In creation of technology for e-commerce, rail, fintech, infrastructure and commercial real estate applications, Rani enables effortless user experiences. His experience in complex backend design has allowed for B2B (business-to-business), B2C (business-to-customer), and P2P (peer-to-peer) interactivity and economy.

In addition to realising universal applications for technology (spanning web and mobile), Rani is responsible for leading Willow’s Software Engineering Teams through complex and specialised project conditions.

Nicholas Moore

Chairman

Nicholas is the former Chief Executive Officer of Macquarie Group Limited. He retired after 33 years at Macquarie, and 10 years as CEO from 2008 – 2018.

Nicholas has a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws from UNSW. He was admitted as a solicitor and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

He is Chairman of Screen Australia, the Sydney Opera House Trust, The Centre for Independent Studies, The Smith Family, Willow Technology Corporation, National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC), a Member (and former Chair) of the University of NSW Business School Advisory Council, and the former Chair of the PCYC.

Sallyann Aitken

Business Development Director

Sallyann leads Willow’s new business development strategy and customer engagement.

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