University of Melbourne Life Sciences complex – digital twin, Australia

Creating digital twin to transform the way facilities managed

  • Aurecon’s role: Digital engineering services – digital twin using Unsigned Studios’ SiteLab® tool
  • Client: University of Melbourne

Aurecon worked with the University of Melbourne to create a digital twin of the Life Sciences complex for improved end-to-end asset management, strategic decision-making and user experience.

In an Australian university first, Aurecon created a digital twin of the University of Melbourne’s Life Sciences complex, following our role as Project Manager and Superintendent for the design, tender and construction of Stage One.

What is a digital twin?

A digital twin is a digital representation of a built asset, which gathers data from real-time operations to assist with maintenance and decision-making.

The Life Sciences complex digital twin recreates the physical complex in a digital format, transforming the way facilities are managed, how assets are optimised, how strategic decisions are made and how students experience the university.

Combining numerous technologies and data sources, the Life Sciences complex digital twin accurately reflects real-world operating conditions, responds to changes, predicts outcomes and distils information that enables the university to make better decisions for managing assets across their whole lifecycle.

How does a digital twin work?

By dynamically aggregating data from multiple sources and connecting them based on geolocation, the digital twin can monitor attributes such as live energy consumption, live occupancy density, asset management, space management, building information modelling, underground facilities, and live IoT data visualisation.

Underpinning the Life Sciences complex digital twin is a foundation model built from structural and services data, cross-referenced by site surveyed LIDAR scans taken during and after construction. Additional scans of the completed building were overlaid on top of the original model, alongside vast amounts of information, including services coordination models, product information and manuals.

Real-time data to enhance decision-making, research and student experience

These layers of tagged assets and linked information within the digital twin combine in 3D to accurately show as-built positions of services and assets, enabling facilities managers, and infrastructure and maintenance teams, to have real-time influence over how spaces are used and better inform decisions around building condition assessment and maintenance planning.

The data from the digital twin can also bring value for strategic decision-makers such as the Vice Chancellor, CEO and Dean, as well as being used as a living lab, providing a rich source of data for researchers. It also brings significant benefits to students, with data from the digital twin fed into apps used to enhance the student experience, which can attract new students and strengthen the university’s viability long term.

The Life Sciences complex digital twin also enables the university to take a proactive and informed approach to facility management in the face of a crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, by enabling visualisation and identification of potential retrofit solutions aligned with changing environments or contingency plans. This innovation provides pertinent information to help the university successfully navigate future disruptions.

User-friendly SiteLab® tool

Delivered using Unsigned Studio's interactive, award-winning model viewing platform, siteLab®, the Life Sciences complex digital twin is a user-friendly, exemplar model for capturing and conveying vast amounts of data about the university’s assets. The easy to use functionality enables the university to distill large swathes of information to make optimal decisions, better manage their buildings and turn insights into value.

Future next

Following the success of the Life Sciences complex digital twin, the university has specified all future projects are to include, as a minimum, as-built BIM (Building Information Modelling) models for the digital capture of information.

This is a great leap forward to widespread adoption of digital twins across the University of Melbourne’s portfolio, which will create an ecosystem of spatial information enabling asset owners and facilities managers to respond more rapidly to changing conditions, improve asset performance, make better decisions and ultimately provide a more engaging student experience.

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