4  FM quick reads on analytics

1. Facility Analytics Can Help Facility Managers Make Data-Based Decisions

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from Angela Lewis of Facility Engineering Associates: Facility analytics can help facility managers make data-based decisions.

As the amount of data available to the facility manager continues to increase, it is important that tools to help manage and effectively use this data are evaluated and implemented as standard practice within facility management organizations. As a recent article in Inc. magazine points out, "analytics are becoming a central hub across companies where everything is being measured and each decision is supported by data." Thus, in addition to having analytics tools, it will be equally important for facility management staff to know how to use the tools effectively.

Analytics act as funnels to increase the granularity of the data - as the data becomes more granular, it may become more relevant to different roles within the facility management organization. For example, facility management executives may be most interested in high level metrics, while technicians may be more interested in the energy consumption of a specific system or sub-system.

"The largest benefit of utilizing energy analytics is to benchmark and monitor utility consumption and quantify cost savings that result from understanding how utilities are used," says Sean Delehanty, sustainability manager for BAE Systems. "The resulting benchmarks can also be used to make decisions to positively affect change where necessary."

Delehanty says BAE Systems selected an energy analytics tool largely based on "the ability of the tool to provide a comprehensive span of control, broad visibility about energy efficiency, and most importantly, ease of use by qualified individuals. Our decision was reinforced when we began to realize our significant utility cost savings."

A new category of product entering the market supports analytics, as well as benchmarking and dashboards, in existing buildings. These are electrical outlets and light switches that allow data collection down to the receptacle level, as opposed to the breaker level. These outlets and switches can replace or plug into the existing outlets and send data across the electrical wire or wirelessly. Although the concept of sending both data and electricity across a single wire is not currently very common in existing commercial buildings, the approach, multiplexing, is used commonly in the utility sector.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day.

Building Management System Analytics and Diagnostics Can Aid Facility Staff, If Properly Programmed

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from Rita Tatum, contributing editor for the magazine: New building management and energy management system have analytics and diagnostics capabilities can save time for facility staff, but they need to be properly programmed.

In the past, facility managers often had operating staff who could tell or sense when a building system was faltering and knew instinctively what needed to be done to fix it. However, these seasoned facility engineers are now retiring.

"People entering facilities management don't have that real-world experience," says Jim Sinopoli, managing principal, Smart Buildings. "And there's more technology in today's buildings. BAS/EMS today needs more analytics software tools to support the new generation of facility engineers."

Those tools are often designed to make it easy to learn to use them. "The prevalence of easy-to-use Web-based interfaces, email alarm notifications, pre-made report forms and basic fault diagnostics can enable the typical overworked building manager to do more with less," says Robert G. Knight, senior associate with Environmental Systems Design. "That building manager no longer needs weeks of specialized off-site software training, or a degree in mechanical engineering, to keep a building running comfortably and efficiently."

Nevertheless, new building management and energy management systems are built on advanced software. To use that software optimally can be a challenge for traditional building operators. In response, Knight is encountering more customers who are adding in-house systems integration capabilities. That capability may come from the corporate IT department, from a systems integrator on the facility management team, or from the energy manager.

"The honest truth about all this powerful software," says Knight, "is that it still can't do the thinking for us. Somebody needs to write and tweak the fault diagnostic algorithms, model new energy management scenarios in the analytics software, refresh the content on the LEED kiosk, modify the management dashboard when the CIO wants a new metric."

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.

Analytics, Fault Detection Improve Building Automation Capabilities

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from Rita Tatum, contributing editor: Today, detailed analytics and fault detection systems are starting to offer the potential for improving the performance of building automation systems.

New technology starting to be deployed today offers the ability to predict when something is going wrong, before systems stop working altogether. "The BAS operator can't just keep his or her eye on the chiller and big air handling units anymore," says Robert G. Knight, senior associate with Environmental Systems Design. "Now, the facility manager's got fountain pumps and pool chemical controllers and kitchen grease precipitators, all revealing their every inner parameter to the network. So analytics are really becoming necessary to filter through that noise and help direct the operator's attention to the problem."

The diagnostics come in many capabilities and price ranges. One software application for HVAC systems uses fault-detection diagnostics (FDD). The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed FDD some years ago. The software evaluates equipment relationships, such as the chiller's connection to the air handler and the air handler's reliance on variable air volume devices, to diagnose a problem in performance. Using predictive analytics rules, the software analyzes and identifies faults or conditions where HVAC is not running optimally and alerts the BAS/EMS front end station.

"Some of this software really takes on not only DDCs but also systems normally considered outside BAS/EMS monitoring," says Jim Sinopoli, managing principal, Smart Buildings. "These systems are handling exterior shading, interior blinds and even seismic monitoring."

Analytics and fault detection and diagnostics capabilities are sometimes being offered within BAS/EMS applications themselves, and sometimes they are separate applications from companies that don't make BAS/EMS.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.


analytics , building automation , BAS , building management system , benchmarking

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