Artificial Intelligence  ·  Cloud Solutions  ·  Facility Management  ·  IoT

The integration of individuals, spaces, and processes within a company’s facilities, coupled with the technologies inherent to these properties, necessitates comprehensive management. This approach is increasingly leveraging the use of digital twins.

In the present day, organizations confront the challenge of effectively managing properties and their services to streamline their core activities. The goal is to cultivate a more humane, efficient, and productive environment.

This seemingly straightforward objective demands coordinated efforts, encompassing diverse areas of management. Key considerations include assessing investments (financial management), designing facilities (space management), maintaining them (operational management), and overseeing the team working within these facilities (user management). Each of these aspects is a realm unto itself, presenting unique challenges. This complexity has only been heightened by the advent of Covid, which has fundamentally altered spatial requirements. Factors such as the need for safety distances have led to less intensive use of spaces, necessitating increased flexibility to enhance profitability.

In the context of evolving demands, even in facilities designed for permanence, the adoption of Facility Management (FM) software emerges as crucial for gaining competitive advantages.

Despite the presence of various standards in this field, such as the European UNE-EN ISO 41014:2021, a well-guided FM program proves instrumental in facilitating our endeavors.

Modern applications within this sphere leverage cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). The incorporation of these advancements undoubtedly endows these applications with extraordinary potential.

Towards process automation

In a scenario where margins are constrained by various factors, the imperative to minimize operational costs while enhancing service quality and customer satisfaction becomes evident. Achieving this goal necessitates a transformation of processes, rendering them more digital, responsive, and real-time.

When scrutinizing space management, the proliferation of terms such as the following underscores the growing significance of this domain:

Building Management System (BMS) and Building Control System (BCS): These terms are used to refer to the systems that control the facilities of a building.

Building Automation System (BAS): This term is used to describe the set of management and control systems mentioned above, which can be part of a larger BMS or BCS system.

Energy Management System (EMS) and Energy Management Control System (EMCS): These systems are specifically responsible for managing and controlling energy consumption.

In any case, the common thread is that these systems centralize processes and manage them in an increasingly automated manner.

The digital twin and facility management

Digital twins have emerged as a prevalent and essential tool in various industries, including industrial production and building construction, as well as in the management and control of facilities.

A digital twin is a dynamic virtual representation of a physical asset. Leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence, it utilizes real-time data to virtually mirror the functionality of a building. This includes identifying areas that may necessitate maintenance and predicting how the structure might respond to different stressors.»

The digital twin facilitates the virtual "testing" of various scenarios in the workplace before their real-life implementation. Instead of dedicating extensive hours to weigh the benefits of workplace changes prior to physical installation, Facility Managers (FMs) can seamlessly navigate through different points in a building's life cycle. This adaptability allows them to comprehend potential outcomes, enabling a thorough understanding of the of impact decisions before they make their physical presence felt.

Central to the concept of a digital twin is the seamless connection between the physical and digital counterparts of a building. The digital replica mirrors the physical version in terms of design and construction, digitally representing all building services such as lighting, air conditioning, mechanical and electrical installations, controls, and commissioning at any given time. This digital duplicate not only enhances our understanding of how buildings function and how to manage and design them more efficiently during construction but also serves as a valuable tool to investigate reasons behind unexpected building behavior.

Contrary to simply being a 1:1 scale 3D model, a digital twin doesn't need an exhaustive graphical representation. Its graphics are tailored precisely to meet the specific information needs of each client, striking a balance between precision and relevance. Additionally, it requires a substantial amount of associated data linked to the graphical representation. This data becomes a valuable resource, capable of being extracted and integrated into dashboards through Business Intelligence solutions like Microsoft Power BI. Cuatroochenta's proficiency in Power BI and FM applications such as FAMA adds another layer of expertise to further enhance our capabilities.

“It's important to note that digital twins are not off-the-shelf products; rather, they evolve through a significant systems integration effort.” 

This statement, featured in the Schneider Electric E-guide, adeptly conveys the notion that there are no instant solutions, but rather a methodical and progressive approach to digitizing various facets of a company—a result of a well-devised strategy. This concept aligns seamlessly with what we've observed in the sensorization section.

The PWC report, "Emerging Trends in Real Estate®: Europe 2022", offers another insightful example in this regard: "We have just completed the initial phase of our distinctive data platform, an 18-month endeavor. Yet, now we can analyze and leverage it." This underscores that we're navigating medium to long-term processes. To ensure success, Facility Managers (FMs) aspiring for a digital twin must steer clear of immediacy, recognizing that obtaining information of such depth is impossible in a short timeframe.

«Integrating IoT and AI into a digital twin plays a pivotal role in FM management. The challenge lies in adopting a medium-term perspective, where the volume of information becomes substantial enough to contribute significantly to informed decision-making»

Ángela García – FAMA General Manager.

Similarly, as acknowledged on page 55, 68% of respondents affirm that organizational transformation will be a primary focus in the next five years. This shift is attributed in part to the requirements of property occupiers and consumers seeking greater flexibility and shorter contracts to align with their evolving needs. This demand is often coupled with a desire for elevated amenities, service standards, attention to health and wellbeing, and enhanced digital connectivity. In essence, there's a growing demand for tools that empower us to navigate increasingly variable and demanding conditions.

Drivers of organizational transformation

Very important
Considerably important
Not so important
Not important
Does not know

Properties as a service


Changes in customer demand


ESG Agenda (Environmental, Social, Governance)


Demand for flexibility from tenants and other users


Compete for talent


Source: Emerging Trends in Real Estate® Europe 2022, PWC

Enhancing the operational efficiency of our facilities is no longer the sole objective for facility managers. Emerging needs, changing external conditions (such as supply costs, legislation, etc.), evolving methodologies, and shifting sensitivities now demand a re-evaluation of processes, procedures, and activities. The adoption of digital technologies has become virtually indispensable in this endeavor.