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IoT and EAM: Putting the Smart in Buildings

By Mike Stone

Chances are maintenance and engineering managers have heard about smart cities, which monitor the conditions of all critical infrastructure, including bridges, streets, water, and electric systems. Frost & Sullivan estimates that by 2025, there will be more than 26 smart cities worldwide.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and enterprise asset management (EAM) software will play an important role in the development of smart cities. To qualify as smart, a city must adopt five of the eight smart principles: energy, building, mobility, health care, infrastructure, technology, governance, and education or smart citizens. Smart buildings are expected to make up 7 percent of the total global smart city market by 2025.

The driver of that growth is the availability of small, sophisticated, affordable sensors connected via the IoT and EAM software that can make sense of all the data generated by these sensors. These technologies contribute to the growth of automated building management systems.

What makes a building smart?

Smart buildings deliver useful services that help make occupants more productive and safe, at the lowest cost and with the least environmental impact. A smart building is one that is green, safe, and productive. Being green means the building optimizes and minimizes energy use and can operate using clean energy sources. For safety reasons, occupant security and quality of life must be top priorities. This means not just physical security, such as connected fire suppression and alarm systems, but also health security — high quality air, water, and more. In a smart building, the equipment powering these capabilities does not operate as a collection of standalone pieces. All the equipment and systems in a smart building need to be connected and able to communicate machine to machine.

For example, a building’s chiller could receive weather data from outside and occupancy information from inside, so it operates only when needed to maintain the optimal temperature for its occupants. In addition, a smart building’s security, lighting and temperature systems should communicate to turn off the lights, put computer equipment into sleep mode, and reduce heating or cooling when occupants have left for the day.

Beyond day-to-day operations, smart buildings also make use of sensors and the IoT to drive efficient maintenance efforts, which in turn improve productivity and energy use. For example, sensor readings from the HVAC system can be used to automatically generate work orders, as well as order required parts to keep it running at peak efficiency and prevent a costly outage.

To do all this, buildings must include connected systems and the ability to analyze the information generated by those systems using big data analytics. Those elements can help assure that all systems operate at peak efficiency. That is where IoT and EAM software enter the picture.

How do IoT and EAM make this possible?

The sensors and other devices within a smart building generate vast amounts of data. Managers and technicians can use that data to monitor performance, track the physical location of assets, and detect potential operating issues. But they can do this only if they can efficiently collect and process the data from the hundreds or even thousands of devices within an IoT-connected smart building.

To accomplish that goal, managers need an EAM system that has best-in-class capabilities, like built-in sophisticated analytics capabilities, so they can reap the benefits of real-time visibility and insight.

When managers add EAM software to an IoT-connected facility, they can increase automation and visibility into planning, maintenance and operations management. They also can maximize uptime and safety and extend the life of your assets while operating more efficiently.

EAM software with advanced analytics capabilities can help analyze the structured and unstructured data generated by IoT-connected devices in a smart building to improve decision making and uncover opportunities for saving money and improving operational efficiency.

For example, managers can analyze real-time data on the amount of energy a heating system is using to decide if it is time to perform preventive maintenance, change the operating mode of the equipment, or even retire it. An EAM system can automatically generate work orders for preventive maintenance and schedule required work.

Managers will have the tools they need to gain insights into the operations of facilities, grounds, and equipment, so they can create greater operational agility and flexibility while reducing costs.

In a smart building, lighting, cooling, heating, security, and other systems communicate seamlessly via IoT. Add in a sophisticated EAM system, and the result is the ability to analyze all the data those systems generate in real time and optimize the performance of those systems as a way to lower maintenance costs, better manage energy demands, decrease operations costs, and create a more efficient, productive, safe environment for building occupants.

Mike Stone, CMRP, is EAM product manager with Infor. Stone has more than 30 years of experience working with EAM systems. He has led product management, development, and marketing for several commercial EAM systems, and he has applied EAM technology to a variety of industries, including facilities management, oil and gas, chemicals and petrochemicals, food and beverage, manufacturing, renewable energy, transportation, waste management, and utilities.

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posted on 1/18/2018