Digital Twins for Optimal Asset Management (Toitoi) is a finalist in the Excellence in Asset Management Category of the 2022 IPWEA NZ Asset Management Excellence Awards. The Excellence in Asset Management Category is sponsored by Waugh Infrastructure Management.

The future of asset management is here, thanks to digital twin technology! Taking state-of-the-art technology, used almost exclusively to design and construct new builds until now, and adapting it for the management of existing buildings has already saved Council time and money. By building a virtual replica of Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre, asset managers can access the details of every aspect of each element that makes up a building at just one click, and remotely monitor the ‘comfortableness’ and performance of the building. Hastings District Council is believed to be the first in New Zealand to apply this technology to existing buildings. Toitoi’s digital twin is providing a more efficient and effective business model that streamlines asset management processes.

The scope of the project, commencing in early-2020, was to adapt technology currently used in the main for new builds in New Zealand, to an asset management tool for Hastings District Council’s existing buildings. The first phase, to develop a comprehensive ‘digital twin’ for Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre, leads the way for Council to digitise the remainder of its 140 buildings and park assets.

By being the first Council in New Zealand to use this technology for asset management, Council is taking up the opportunities that come with transforming its day-to-day asset operations and long-term asset management practices to a digital format.

The BIM and Digital Twin project demonstrates the exceptional improvements provided by this fundamental redesign of traditional asset management processes and practices. It results in a much simplified efficient and effective process, minimised costs, and advanced predictive maintenance and asset renewal – ensuring ‘best-care’ outcomes for these important community assets.

The digital replica of Toitoi (digital twin), developed using quality asset data captured with laser scanning and photogrammetry image capturing, can be updated in real-time, and be used in conjunction with other tools including simulation and artificial intelligence to support remote decision-making.

Delivered by WSP New Zealand and overseen by Council’s Building Assets team, the Toitoi Digital Twin project and the ensuing implementation across Council’s wider asset portfolio provides an excellent case study and example to all asset intensive organisations, including, but not limited to, local and central government organisations – in fact, any organisation for which structured and systematic asset management practices that will deliver best value and services to its communities are required.

This programme is part of Council’s ambitious digital transformation strategy, aimed at ensuring Council is building a resilient and sustainable community – and that includes its buildings!

Asset Management Principles

Like all local governments in New Zealand, Hastings District Council invests in infrastructure assets that deliver services for those living in or visiting the local community. A whole-of-life approach to the management of these assets is integral to its ongoing ability to meet community needs for the current and future generations, which is the key principle of asset management as defined in IIMM.

Concurrently, councils face significant challenges in terms of increasing service demand, changing stakeholder expectations, ageing assets and constrained funding, compounded by the future uncertainty of climate change and pandemic impacts. To face those challenges, organisations need to optimise asset performance, reduce costs, and minimise risk, through carefully planning, operating, and maintaining assets enabled by asset information and technologies.

The Toitoi project has designed and developed a digital management framework which transforms the way Council manages its assets in accordance with the principles, practices, and workflows defined in the best practices and standards IIMM and ISO55000 for asset management, and ISO19650 for BIM and information management.

Examples of the project’s alignment with asset management frameworks include:

  • Asset information management is the key to effective asset management. BIM and the digital twin act as a single point of truth for all asset management stakeholders, providing a rich and structured information source that underpins operational and managerial decisions.
  • Taking a whole-of-life approach is a fundamental principle of excellent asset management. BIM supports effective asset management across the entire lifecycles of assets; from planning, design and construction to the operation and maintenance phases. Using BIM, aggregated asset data captured during and post construction can be consistently and securely stored and managed, which enables easy data access and effective analysis in each phase of an asset’s lifecycle. This materially reduces reliance on PDF/paper-based as-builts.
  • The IIMM and ISO standards include an asset management maturity assessment regime that allows an organisations to assess its maturity level in the development of information management. The BIM platform developed by Hastings District Council provides a modular-based application development framework that allows an organisation to adopt and implement management application programmes in a staged approach based on their resource and capability; from basic model to more advanced decision-making analytical tools.
  • The development of Toitoi BIM and digital twin’s data structure is based on the hierarchy of asset classifications as specified in the NAMS Property Manual, which stipulates building, building systems, and building components and their attributes, such as size, model, cost, manufacturer, design life, construction date, and a range of other information specific to operation, maintenance and planning activities. The data format adopted in Toitoi’s BIM is in compliance with the New Zealand Asset Metadata Standard – Residential Housing and Light Commercial Buildings to help data computing and sharing to enable system interoperability and to create an open data source at the national BIM application level.

This project demonstrates an efficient method of using BIM outputs to populate AMIS, in which asset data can be stored and exchanged on the digital platform to provide insight into asset management from a single source of information, accessible from multiple devices. The centralised information management platform gives asset managers and other users an easy-to-use interface, thus removing obstacles to accessing asset data or finding as-built documentation.

Importantly, by adopting an integrated digital platform the focus shifts from managing systems and software driven by multiple software providers, to a system controlled by the asset owner by ‘unlocking’ data stored across preparatory systems. That prevents data being lost through scenarios such as changing application systems or software becoming unsupported. In addition, it enables an open data source to support the development of applications from a healthy supplier competitions, a healthy ecosystem.