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Digital Twins Support Convenience Store Makeovers

image of store digital twins support renovation

In Switzerland, retailer SPAR Handels AG bought a total of 60 gas station convenience stores and has converted them into Spar Express mini-marts. The renovations swapped out the facades, interiors, and layout of the stores as quickly as possible to minimize retail downtime. SPAR had converted the first two stores using conventional methods with no digital twins, but was confronted with significant issues: The shelving and furnishings had been produced using outdated as-built plans and incorrect measurements, didn’t fit, and had to be reordered and remade. The repeated transport involved in correcting the error also increased costs.

From an article in Design and Make with Autodesk.

In November 2020, SPAR Handels AG commissioned BIM Facility AG, a building information modeling (BIM) specialist based in Zürich, to scan its newly acquired convenience stores and create digital twins of the facades and retail spaces. The company started converting stores in accordance with corporate design guidelines and soon reopened all 60 stores under the new brand name SPAR Express.

SPAR Handels AG paid around 140,000 Swiss francs (US $160,000) for BIM Facility AG’s services, but the benefits of 3D laser scanning and creating the BIM model far exceeded the time and money spent. “At around 2,500 Swiss francs per store, it costs approximately the equivalent of paying a single member of staff for three or four days,” says Elias Steiner, head of Construction + Store Design at SPAR Handels AG. “My tentative estimate is that the conventional process would cost at least twice that.” He adds that the data obtained using conventional methods would likely be of poorer quality—which had proved true in the case of the first two store renovations.

It’s also costly and time-consuming to source old building plans—which might not be very useful. Matthias Wasem, CEO and Partner at BIM Facility AG, says that on a current project for a major transport company, planners estimate an average of 9–17 working days to locate and provide as-built plans, with a total cost of just under 5 million Swiss francs (US $5.7 million). A better strategy is to “get out there, scan the place, and create up-to-date plans,” Wasem says. BIM Facility AG had a similar experience in the case of the SPAR project, realizing many advantages by employing 3D laser scanning.
Minimizing retail downtime

Each of the 60 Swiss convenience stores that were converted into SPAR Express mini-marts measures between 50 and 70 square meters (around 540 to 750 square feet). The conversion process included fitting new check-out areas, refrigerators, counters, and shelves to corporate design guidelines. The store exteriors also needed to be recognizable as SPAR Express marts.

“A brief interruption to daily business was all we needed to scan the retail space,” Wasem says. He adds that the project managers helped allay any fears in advance and explained that any inconvenience to staff and customers would be limited—as well as communicating that customers had to leave the premises to avoid being scanned.

For the complete article on digital twins CLICK HERE.

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