IMA Architects unveil ‘UK first’ technology
IMA Architects (IMA) has unveiled a successful test prototype of a new technology that will create an exact digital replica of a building. The technology, known as the ‘digital twin’, will help businesses gain more data on a building’s performance in real time, allowing them to save money by monitoring and reducing a building’s energy use.
The company has converted two former shipping containers into the IMA Digital Pods at its headquarters in Blaby, Leicestershire. The two buildings are now a personal gym and coffee bar — but with a difference.
The pods were equipped with a variety of sensors to create a “digital twin”. Considered the first of its kind in the UK, IMA’s ‘Digital Twin’ prototype was designed – and successfully tested – to accurately represent a physical space within a virtual model. In this case, the fitness area and the coffee area of the employees are exactly digitally reproduced.
Coupled with Building Information Modeling (BIM), sensors in the physical building feed data back to the virtual model, showing how even the smallest change can impact real-world performance. This grants the building owner or manager access to real-time data with an in-depth analysis of a building’s performance.
This is significant because simulations can also be run in virtual space, allowing users to learn about key metrics like energy use and carbon emissions and make informed decisions that are made in the real world.
The IMA Digital Pods use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to collect real-time data from the relevant rooms and feed it “via a cloud platform” into a 3D model that contains precise information about the structure and the equipment installed in the pods contains. This data is then analyzed and visualized virtually within the digital model and can be stored in the cloud for further analysis. Commands can also be sent from the digital model to enable or disable devices in the pods and monitor performance.
Anthony Day, Managing Director of IMA Architects, says: “Creating the IMA Digital Pods has allowed us to increase our knowledge in this emerging field. We put theory into practice to be able to implement this technology in our customer projects.
“We believe that the successful use of BIM and the ‘digital twin’ is the future of building design and that more buildings with this level of information and intelligence will play a major role in helping the UK meet its net zero goals to achieve and reduce costs for businesses along the way.
“Among other things, it has the potential to reduce construction costs by 33%, increase delivery speeds by 50% and reduce emissions by 50%, which is incredibly important as the Government continues to lay out plans to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy . And as energy costs rise, the digital twin will be an incredibly valuable cost-saving tool, pointing the way to a brighter, greener future.”
IMA introduced the Digital Pods on Friday, December 2, 2022 at a launch event with employees and customers at its Blaby headquarters.