Microsoft's 'Analytics Blanket' Is Changing How Facilities Are Managed

By Casey Laughman, Managing Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Microsoft Uses Fault Detection And Diagnostics To Transform Facilities Management Pt. 2: Microsoft Uses Big Data To Manage BuildingsPt. 3: As Microsoft Has Brought Fault Detection And Diagnostics Online, Management Of Assets Has ImprovedPt. 4: Unified Reporting Helps Microsoft's Facilities Management Team Measure And Manage Energy UsePt. 5: This Page

Microsoft's "analytics blanket" is also changing the way that the facilities are managed overall, and not just in their energy usage. With the different building systems reporting faults immediately, Smith and his team can have a real-time information feed of what's going on in the buildings, what needs to be fixed and what the potential costs are of not fixing it. The system prioritizes faults based on cost, so a seemingly small fix might be ranked ahead of a larger one due to the overall financial impact; the next step is having the system produce its own work orders. It also provides the ability for the team to do repairs before problems are even reported.

"Before, you would call and say, 'Boy, my office is really hot, can you guys do something about it?' We'd look in the system, we'd come out to your building, we'd pop the ceiling tile, we'd look and say, 'Yeah, darn it, the actuator on that terminal unit needs to be replaced,' we'd run back to the warehouse, get the part, come back and make the repair — inconveniencing you yet again," Smith says. "With fault detection, and being able to cast a net out, we can see when you have faults. I can tell how stuck the actuator is, how broken it is, we can actually respond with somebody — they can stop at the warehouse, because we know which VAV and which part it is — they can make the repairs hopefully before you notice it."

So at Microsoft, Smith's team is using Big Data to make a big difference not only in energy usage, but in how facilities are managed overall. But there's an undercurrent to all of this: Smith doesn't plan on stopping with Microsoft. He gladly shares what his team is doing with just about anybody who will ask. In some cases, he's even conducted tours for other facility management and energy professionals who want to learn how he has been able to make such a big change in such a short time. And, as he points out, Microsoft is doing all of this with an 18-month payback, before utility rebates, in a state with cheap energy costs, so there's really no reason it couldn't be done other places. The ultimate goal? To push himself off the cover of facility magazines like this one.

"My hope is that our story becomes less of a limelight because there's so many other people doing it," he says. "That's success to me."

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  posted on 9/5/2013   Article Use Policy

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