Willow and thyssenkrupp Elevator Take Building Smarts to a New Level

PRESS RELEASE | Sydney, September 24, 2018
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Willow, an Australian digital company, has collaborated with thyssenkrupp Elevator and Microsoft to create a digital replica of thyssenkrupp’s Innovations Test Tower in Rottweil Germany. The solution integrates hundreds of sources of data to revolutionise building performance and efficiency for both operators and tenants – from maintenance, to resource utilisation, to energy efficiency and beyond – all whilst improving the ways people experience the building.

Opened in 2017, thyssenkrupp’s Innovations Test Tower, showcases cutting edge innovations as the company embarks on a digital transformation to move buildings beyond being “smart” and to create more liveable spaces.

The tower is home to the world’s first ropeless elevator, with a revolutionary design that moves elevator cars both vertically and horizontally like in a continuous metro system, with multiple cars per shaft. Using a technology called MULTI, this brings greater capacity and shorter waiting times to users; it sets no limits in building height or shape, allowing architects to completely rethink designs; and it saves a significant amount of space inside buildings, improving the business case for real estate developers and investors.

thyssenkrupp Elevator joined with Willow to create the “Willow Twin” to collect and integrate data from across the 246-meter tower by developing an intelligent digital twin of the asset, turning the building into a rich ecosystem of data-driven insights. The technology helps operators and asset managers understand how tenants are using a building.

By creating a digital replica of the building, Willow Twin collects and integrates hundreds of sources of data from individual proprietary systems to provide a single view, creating actionable insight of the tower through a visually intuitive software platform, accessible by all levels of the asset management in real time. The Willow Twin can also benefit from the data collected by the predictive maintenance system thyssenkrupp MAX, which is already connecting and analysing data from over 120,000 elevators in Germany, the US, Korea and Spain, predicting and managing the assets performance and availability, and reducing elevator downtime by half.

The solution features a custom-built mobile application which facilitates direct communication between the building operator, managers and maintenance teams and features a best in class GIS map for intuitive navigation within the building.

Prof. Michael Cesarz, Chief Executive Officer for MULTI at thyssenkrupp Elevator: “When combined with data collected by the existing thyssenkrupp MAX predictive maintenance service, the Willow Twin creates a living system that allows asset managers and owners to build a fully digital picture of how tenants are experiencing a building. This intelligence helps us to improve facilities management and provides insight into how occupants and visitors use the building.”

Willow selected Microsoft Azure as their cloud provider, powering the company’s business and digital solutions. Willow’s innovative solution is created on Azure Digital Twins to unlock the power of cloud, IoT and AI. Azure Digital Twins deliver the required scale, security and spatial intelligence.

“By 2020, buildings across the globe will be creating 37.2 zetabytes of data. Everything from a building’s efficiency to how people are experiencing the building and its infrastructure is producing information. Being able to harness and leverage the insights from this data presents the most important opportunity for asset managers and building operators when it comes to attracting and retaining tenants as well as designing the buildings of the future,” said Joshua Ridley, CEO Willow said.

“With the Willow Twin, we have created a simple and easy to use digital platform that provides building owners and operators a single way to access and coordinate the hundreds of different data points from multiple sources and IoT sensors across a building through one portal. The end-result is owners and operators designing buildings with insights they would never otherwise have.”

“Willow uses Azure Digital Twins to model the building, track real-time data and connect devices. Azure Digital Twins stores the hierarchy and building data and then Willow feeds in details from other systems, such as architectural design, warranties and manuals, providing one place to view all aspects of a building or infrastructure asset. Azure Digital Twins provides Willow and thyssenkrupp Elevator confidence in creating insights which are simple and actionable, in a cloud platform that is secure and scalable,” said Bert Van Hoof, Group Program Manager, Azure IoT at Microsoft Corp.

Estimates indicate the Internet of Things (IoT) economic impact on buildings could reach $6.3 trillion^ by 2025, with energy efficiency identified as a key driver in increasing asset value (2-7% premium over traditional properties), higher rental income (8-3%) and higher occupancy rates (9-18%).*

The five key use cases of the Willow Twin in the Tower are:

  • Elevator maintenance – Willow Twin will benefit from the already implemented thyssenkrupp MAX, the world’s first predictive maintenance system based on IoT and Microsoft Azure Cloud. Data collected from connected elevators will be analysed by intelligent algorithms, that alert service technician and building managers on possible failures enabling service interventions before problems even occur. thyssenkrupp MAX is set to reduce elevator downtime by half.
  • Smarter contracts with Blockchain – Through blockchain technology, thyssenkrupp Elevator can now manage new contracts designed with trust with their contractors. Both the building operator and contractor can see the exact availability of each elevator, the maintenance which has been conducted on each elevator and response times to alerts. All residing in the Willow Twin, this data-led approach to sharing information across the supply chain, fundamentally changes the way building managers and contractors work together.
  • Automatic facility management – With Willow Twin, facility managers will receive automatic notifications of potential faults in operations. For example, the Facilities Manager will be alerted to potential faults in air conditioners through the Client Portal on a floor prior to a tenant complaining, allowing them to investigate and restore the issue. A tenant’s comfort will remain consistent.
  • Emergency management – Camera sensors connected to the Willow Twin will allow building managers to know exactly how many people are on a specific flor at one point in time. Should an emergency arise, the building manager can see the best avenue for people to exit the building.

  • Tenant designed customer experience – Willow Twin is an open platform built on Azure Digital Twins, which will allow third party developers to plug in their application with ease. Building operators will be able to create unique tenant experiences, leveraging different applications requested by different tenants. This ensures tenants will have an easy mobile interface that will support all their built environment needs, from room booking apps to coffee order apps.


Notes to editor

  • *McKinsey Global has found that IoT economic impact on buildings could reach $6.3 trillion by 2025: Research by Technavio.
  • ^Research by JLL has found that energy efficient buildings are not only sold at a 2-17pc premium over more traditional properties, but they also achieve 8-35% higher rental income and 9-18pc higher occupancy rates.

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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.

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Rich Miller

Chief Technology Officer

Rich is responsible for building out Willow’s software engineering practice and has a passion for embracing technology challenges and developing solutions to solve them.

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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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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.

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