(photo: George Morina)
06.05.2021, 08:41

Optimising Building Operations with the IoT

Facilities Management, The Indoor Environment, Smart Facilities, United Kingdom

Dan Shields, CEO of Shields Energy, extolls the virtues of the IoT as a platform for optimising services and achieving efficiency savings in buildings.


Over 30 per cent of energy is wasted from poorly performing or operating equipment within a building, despite the focus on improving efficiency and saving energy within facilities management.


Although the need for greater efficiencies is not new, with the advances which have accompanied the development of IoT-based asset management applications, it is largely unnecessary as evidence-based data from the IoT can inform better decisions and cost and carbon savings.


Service delivery
The IoT ensures FMs are better informed to make decisions based on the data they receive from sensors and systems deployed within a client site.
Digital twin platforms
These provide FMs with the layout of the building, the location of the system, the details of the system, historic and real-time insights into performance and operations. A true log of the system and an exact location within the building. Digital twin is an exact replica of the building and systems within, locating the faulty system on a digital twin right down to the system fault codes, allows them to physically – on-site – locate the issue and rectify.
Operations management
Operation management and fault identification: For FMs, having insights into building and equipment operations 24/7/365 through the use of IoT and interactive cloud-based software platforms empowers FMs to be more informed, to identify a fault before it becomes a costly issue to the client or a H&S issue for the building occupiers. They can go to a site knowing fully the extent of the fault and can locate and identify the issues immediately as they have already viewed the location through the digital twin software. 
Rectifying faults remotely
Remote management and fault rectification: the IoT empowers FMs to make adjustments to equipment performance and operations remotely, fix faults remotely and thereby cut down service and maintenance times and in many instances, do all this remotely cutting down on time and cost and carbon from regular planned maintenance visits.
Predictive maintenance
The IoT allows FMs to gain deeper insights into systems and equipment performance, identifying operations and run times that may lead to a fault or request for service allowing them to predict when maintenance is required and be more proactive as opposed to reactive. 
Life cycle management
Extending the life cycle of equipment and buildings: With IoT data, FMs can establish cause and effect in equipment operation and lifecycle. Being able to manage, operate and maintain the equipment with the purpose of extending its life and reducing cost or repair or replace for the client. 
Managing assets
Asset register and system location: the IoT provides FMs with an asset register, they know exactly where systems are and what systems are doing and how they’re performing, the age and maintenance schedule, the historic log of faults and issues – a full-service history available all through a cloud platform. 
Off-grid energy
Delivering off-grid solutions: the IoT empowers FMs to work with their clients in delivering off-grid solutions such as battery and solar PV – data from IoT quantifies the benefits of moving some building load off-grid and onto battery or solar PV thereby reducing the building’s demand on the Grid at certain times of the day.
Covid security
Supporting Covid-secure environments: IoT sensors provide insights into IAQ. Understanding the carbon dioxide levels, temperature and humidity gives insights into air quality within the building and whether it's covid secure for the occupants. Adding in the data from ventilation systems, FMs can create and provide data and insights to the client validating the internal air quality is safe and managed according to government and CIBSE guidelines. Wellness and wellbeing are no longer just about internal temperatures. Humidity and carbon dioxide levels are important to monitor, the former could create a breeding ground for covid and other known pathogens, the latter would suggest high occupancy levels or lack of ventilation. 
The application of the IoT today therefore extends well beyond the remit of traditional BMS/BeMS systems by making Big Data available as an operational tool to facility professionals.

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