Woman using laptop, viewing CODA digital twin

Win-Win-Twin: Harnessing the Internet of Things and Digital Twins to Power Through COVID

Digital Twins and the ‘building internet of things’ or BIoT, might seem like abstract concepts. But they are already being used by companies to gain competitive advantage – at a time when any edge is critical. Shields Energy’s CEO, Dan Shields, explains.

Digital twin technology provides a digital representation of buildings and assets within them. Quite literally, a digital twin is a digital duplicate of a building or estate represented visually. It means building operators and facilities managers can physically see what is happening in real time via sensor data feeding into cloud-based software.

Think of a slightly more complex version of the graphical display in a hybrid car and you’re in the right ball park. Instead of showing the battery and engine management systems, a digital twin shows what is happening with the building’s vital systems, such as heating, ventilation and lighting, – as well as any pieces of equipment that a business may be operating within its estate.

The data and algorithms (sets of rules) that sit behind the graphical ‘twin’ deliver actionable insights that enable managers to optimise the internal environment for occupants, while minimising energy consumption, costs and carbon.

That’s a win-win-twin in itself. But combining BIoT technologies with digital twinning gives managers the flexibility to change how their buildings run – without taking a leap into the unknown.

Optimise without risk

By running scenarios based on actual building data, managers can assess opportunities to optimise in different ways based on business priorities.

Post-COVID, for example, these might revolve around occupancy rates and fresh air while adjusting for the resulting changes to energy consumption and impact on environmental and social governance.

Whatever the desired outcomes, digital twins allow managers to run the scenarios, adjust parameters to find the right balance – and see the results immediately

BIoT solutions like CODA mean building managers remotely tweak and improve performance of buildings and assets through the digital twin.

The digital twin can also act as an asset tracking and management tool – a geographic information system (GIS) is an additional functionality to Shields Energy’s digital twin technology. GIS makes asset tracking easier, quicker and reduces time spent on site by maintenance teams. Even small things, like cutting out wasted time trying to find a meter, can significantly reduce costs. If it’s an emergency, or health and safety issue, the ability to quickly find and isolate an asset can be critical.

Shields’ GIS feature means all assets – from meters, distribution boards, to lifts to cut-off valves – can be tagged and geo-located to the CODA platform.

This means a maintenance team or emergency crew will be able to pinpoint exactly where the faulty asset or emergency shut off valve is located, ensuring speedy access and a quick resolve.

The new GIS function:

  • supports both maintenance and health and safety policies within commercial settings
  • helps multisite retailers like restaurants solve the challenge of locating meters or plant
  • reduces maintenance by up to 20%, cutting downtime onsite and disruption to business.

Don’t take our word for it: Uplifting case study

Great Western Railway’s maintenance engineers were regularly dispatched to faults Twyford station. The problem was its lift, which takes passengers from one platform to another.

The issue to GWR was that elderly and disabled passengers were regularly stranded on station platforms or had to disembark at an alternative destination.

By deploying Shield’s software analytics, we found a phase imbalance (or voltage mismatch) was the cause of the problem, which was quickly addressed.

Now passengers with mobility can rely on Twyford’s lifts to work when they need them.


If you would like to model changes to your building or site without physical disruption or risk, and map a flexible, real-time strategy and management system for utilities, environment, health and safety, carbon and overall building optimisation, Shields Energy has extensive BIoT and digital twin experience. Your physical business is our digital business.

For more information or to find out how the team at Shields Energy can help you, please call us on +44 (0)345 241 2889 or email info@shields.energy.

If you are looking to save energy, reduce reactive maintenance and better manage your entire estate please contact us.

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