Building Management Gets a Boost from the Power of IoT and the Cloud

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is opening up opportunities in all sorts of areas, including in facility operations. A case in point is tools for managing smaller buildings. While building management systems (BMSs) have long been available for managing large buildings and critical facilities, IoT technology makes it feasible and cost-effective to bring similar cloud-based functionality to small and medium-sized buildings as well – creating lots of opportunities for the service providers who maintain them.

As this previous post explains, it starts with improving the efficiency of building maintenance teams, helping them more easily track and complete scheduled maintenance jobs, as well as issue reports.

Smaller buildings can benefit from IoT intelligence

But these sorts of cloud-based operation and maintenance tools are also a boon to operations teams whose primary function is to repair various building assets when things go wrong and get them back online as quickly as possible. Tools that combine IoT instrumentation along with cloud-based applications make it possible for service providers to repair problems faster, and even expand their service offerings to include preventive maintenance and service level agreements (SLAs).

Emerging tools – available from a simple smart phone app – enable service providers to get instant alerts when a problem arises, along with actionable data on what the cause may be. Service technicians can analyze the problem remotely and decide whether they need to go on site, assign a task to a field technician or whether the issue can wait till the next scheduled maintenance visit.

These are the sort of powerful tools that are no less important for owners of small and medium-sized facilities than for larger buildings. Consider this actual customer case, a company that provides meals to schools. Over a weekend, when nobody was in the facility, a circuit breaker tripped and cut power to the refrigerator room. The problem wasn’t discovered till workers arrived on Monday, only to find they had to throw out some 18,000 meals.

That’s typical of non-critical facilities that are not occupied 24×7, where the building occupant is the first to identify a problem.

Expand facility service offerings with IoT and the cloud

The kind of automated alerting that emerging tools provide means facility managers and service providers can be alerted to emerging issues before building tenants even notice. This kind of rapid, more intelligent response capability enables them to establish SLAs with customers with the confidence that they can meet them – opening up new business opportunities.

Additionally, IoT and cloud-based tools can store vast quantities of data on all building management assets, which can then be used for historical benchmarking and reporting. It’s the kind of data that fuels condition-based maintenance programs, enabling service providers to have the confidence to get away from strictly schedule-based maintenance and perform maintenance only when an asset actually needs it – based on what the tools is telling you about its performance.

Here again, offering condition-based maintenance contracts can be a lucrative new revenue stream for service providers because they can lower a customer’s costs while improving their business continuity. That’s because the cloud-based tool can accurately monitor the condition of an asset and inform when maintenance is truly needed, thus reducing downtime.

Three layers of technology boost efficiencies

Solutions, such as EcoStruxure™ Facility Expert, harness the power of IoT and the cloud to improve building management maintenance and operations. Connected products, at the first layer, can send performance and other diagnostic data to the second, “edge control” layer. Software is then able to orchestrate the safe and reliable operation of building components. The real magic happens at the third layer, Facility Advisor, which is a cloud-based series of applications and analytics tools that drive predictive analytics capabilities to help service providers make informed, timely decisions, reduce costs and provide even more efficiency. I’ll cover that in more detail in a future post.

Click here to learn more about how the power of IoT and the cloud can improve the efficiency of your operations teams and open up new opportunities.

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