A Practical Guide to Building Analytics for Facility Managers

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Building Analytics Services Schneider ElectricAs mentioned in my first blog post in this series, best-in-class data analytics complement your building management system (BMS) dashboards. They take a critical next step by interpreting the data collected – setting you and your engineering team in the right direction, armed with the right information at the right time. The actionable intelligence provided by building data analytics is based on statistical analysis, performance trending and automated diagnostics that frankly, you don’t have time for. At the end of the day, you’re empowered to drive results, maximise building performance and comfort and lower costs – making you, your building and your bottom line look great.

You can do this four different ways: by building a custom solution, embedding analytics within your BMS, using software as a service (SaaS) building analytics or deploying managed software as a service (MSaaS) solution.

This blog post breaks those four options down into greater detail, weighing each by its pros and cons to help you make an informed decision for your building.

Option 1: Build a Customised Solution

Build your own on-site building data analytics system that is customised specifically for and integrated into your building’s systems. This option provides you with complete flexibility on how to design and deploy the servers, software and tools to deliver the analytics. The downside is that customised solutions are usually more costly to deploy and maintain.

On-site software requires a custom library of automated rules and diagnostics designed for the specific equipment, environments and situations of your building’s operations. Since every facility is unique, it will be difficult to deploy this highly customised solution across multiple buildings or sites. There will also have to be someone whose job it is to constantly update the software to accommodate different equipment and situations. This requires a significant investment in the IT infrastructure as well as highly skilled staff or vendors to build the diagnostics and maintain the data systems. To provide remote access or utilise web browser interfaces the software would have to be changed to support all browser updates.

Option 2: Embed Analytics within Your BMS

An emerging option in the market is to fully embed and integrate analytics into existing BMS hardware and software. This is an excellent choice for new construction where all of the equipment will be compatible, but is particularly challenging with retrofits or building upgrades. Because this option is still in the early stages, there is limited functionality and availability today. This might become a more viable option in the future so will need further consideration then.

Option 3: SaaS Building Analytics

A cloud-based SaaS building analytics solution is a more cost effective option to a custom solution. With this type of system, data is automatically pulled from building management systems and analysed in a virtual cloud environment. This gives facility managers both the powerful insights of building data analytics and the flexibility of remote access and control – to see their information anytime, anywhere.

Using a “mass-customisation” approach, these subscription-based solutions are more cost effective because they use an existing, fully built library of complex diagnostics that can be modified to work for individual buildings very quickly. A good cloud-based SaaS solution should quickly address your feedback and constantly deploy new versions with added features and functionality as part of your subscription service. This ensures efficient budgeting and “no surprises” for required software upgrades and diagnostic improvements.

One downside to the SaaS-based building analytics option is that you will need people to manage the software, interpret and analyze the data, and, most importantly, act on the opportunities identified.

 Option 4: MSaaS

Post2_MSaaSMSaaS combines the SaaS analytics solution with the oversight of remote engineering experts. In this type of solution, remote engineers work with you to understand your financial and performance goals. Then remote engineering analysts use the insights from the analytics to remotely troubleshoot issues and identify energy savings opportunities, enabling them to deliver recommendations for upgrade/repair/maintenance based on your stated priorities.

This combination of analytics software and engineering expertise can really drive significant results. It gives you the best of both worlds. You have all the information you need, and your staff is completely focused on doing the right thing at the right time. The MSaaS analytics solution can be made accessible to all your building’s vendors, saving them time and making building services more effective. The data can be leveraged to improve vendor management by ensuring issues are fully resolved by utilising analytic findings and monitoring capabilities to ensure issues do not reappear.

My next blog post will focus on important things to consider when searching for an MSaaS vendor. In the meantime, read our white paper Optimizing Buildings Using Analytics and Engineering Expertise to learn more.

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