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As the global pandemic eases and hotels see guests return in greater numbers, facility management teams will continue to face the difficult task of keeping equipment and maintenance costs under control while ensuring the safety of staff, guests, and their own team. In this post we’ll look at how today’s connected hotel technology offers hotel solutions that were never possible in the past. For other topics related to how new hotel technology helps owners and operators improve the hotel guest experience and meet their business and sustainability goals, please read our blog series.
In his book on smart building systems, author James Sinopoli notes, “Annual operating and maintenance costs … for an integrated system are 82% less than a non-integrated system.” For a perfect example of where smarter buildings are delivering savings, we can look to the hotel industry.
How Connected Hotel Technology Solutions are Evolving
In recent years, systems and services within the hotel infrastructure have converged. Guest room management systems (GRMS) connects with property management systems. The building management system (BMS) interoperates with the hotel power management system (PMS) and with GRMS. And expert advisory services connect to all these systems. These connections improve hotel efficiency by helping staff save time and be more effective. They also help support safer indoor environments. Here are four ways this is helping maintenance teams.
1. Smart Tools Make for Smarter Maintenance
Staff retention is one of the biggest challenges for the hotel industry. Maintenance staff are just one part of this high turnover. And with many hotels operating in remote, isolated locations, it is not easy to find experienced facility engineers. This means a hotel’s critical infrastructure equipment can often be in the hands of inexperienced personnel. Fortunately, the newest connected hotel technology building management systems and power management systems give maintenance teams a quick, facility-wide graphical view of HVAC and electrical systems. This helps new hires become familiar with the most important aspects of the facility more quickly.
Data collected from monitoring devices and sensors across the infrastructure is converted into actionable information. The user gets a quick status of all systems and environmental conditions thanks to simplified views. Hotel analytics can include key performance indicators for equipment performance and air quality, with alarm conditions that are pre-filtered, categorized, and prioritized.
Whether onsite or offsite, personnel also save time through remote control over everything from guest room temperature, to hotel lighting schemes and door locks. These connected capabilities are helping Fort Garry Hotel reduce maintenance staff hours by 25 percent.
Fast and easy access to these systems is also critical. To that end, systems offer wide flexibility with information that can be delivered through desktop and mobile access, with digital tools that appeal to a workforce increasingly being replaced by millennials. For example, maintenance staff can be automatically informed of guest check-in and check-out schedules, to help coordinate any sanitizing procedures required, such as UV sterilization to kill any airborne or surface pathogens in rooms. If maintenance personnel need to enter guest rooms for hands-on work, the newest antibacterial switches and touchless voice-control technologies will reduce the risk of testing controls for heating, cooling, and window shades.
2. Data-driven Decisions Cut Time and Cost
A BMS collects a massive amount of data, but typically only about 1 percent is used. The newest diagnostic applications use all the data to extract more value by determining the condition of all electrical and HVAC assets throughout the hotel, as well as ensuring a healthy indoor environment.
This reduces the workload on engineers by directing them to areas needing attention instead of wasting time on equipment that is properly functioning. Data-driven decisions support a more predictive approach to maintenance, in contrast to monthly preventative maintenance. Challenging the status quo of traditional maintenance guidelines can save significant time and money. Some examples:
- Humidity affects the lifespan of painted walls in guest rooms. Continuous monitoring will reveal trends toward higher humidity. Actively managing that humidity will help extend the timeline for repainting rooms.
- Sensors and controls can help ensure optimal indoor air quality by automatically keeping humidity and air circulation at prescribed levels, while monitoring CO2 and VoC levels. If any room or area needs adjustment to HVAC settings, the system alerts the maintenance team. In addition, occupancy sensors can manage social distancing by determining the number of guests in common areas, cafeterias, or gyms.
- In hotels with reticulated chilled water systems, there may be hundreds of fan coil units (at least 1 per room) to maintain. New smart valves connected to the BMS can remotely monitor the performance of each fan coil unit. Monitoring complete floors or groups of units can direct maintenance needs by giving operators early warning of potential issues. In addition, performance data analysis can provide insights into long-term issues to assist in life cycle assessments. This provides a more predictive, data directed maintenance approach that can reduce maintenance costs, and improve the hotel guest experience by reducing temperature-related complaints.
- Circuit breaker performance and aging can be analyzed to optimize reliability, reduce maintenance, and extend lifespan.
3. Keeping the Lights On, and Everything Else Too
Hotels with casinos will typically have data centers supporting 24-hour gaming operations. Combined with 1000+ guest rooms, restaurants, conference rooms, and hotel public space, these facilities also have massive air conditioning loads that must be kept running.
The nature of hotel operations essentially makes them critical power sites. As such, many major hotels have installed backup generators to protect the most critical parts of the facility in case of an outage. However, backup generators will not always start up reliably.
Connected hotel building management systems and hotel power management systems can help maintenance teams keep all systems running. BMS and PMS provide visibility, analysis, and control over all HVAC and hotel power systems, including chilled water plants, generators, guest room management system, and more.
Personnel can view all conditions on a real-time basis, get early alerts to any risks (e.g. power quality issues, potential overloads), and troubleshoot problems if they arise. All these capabilities can be accessed remotely, to minimize the time maintenance personnel need to spend on site. Some leading vendors also offer automated emergency backup testing applications that can help better ensure that generators will be ready to start up when needed.
4. Using Expert Services to Do More with Less
Limited resources make it hard to keep on top of the infrastructure of a massive hotel complex. This is a greater challenge during a pandemic when personnel must minimize time on site. Hotels are very dynamic environments where the infrastructure may need modification regularly to accommodate special needs. For example, casinos may require hotel lighting changes to support different shows or events.
Going beyond connected hotel systems, contracted remote advisory services can help hotel staff stay on top of changing conditions under dynamic situations. Expert teams constantly monitor a hotel’s systems and use advanced algorithms to identify faults, perform root cause analysis, and provide key insights into building operations.
An advisory team can also consult with hotel staff to proactively address any mechanical, control, or electrical issues and prioritize repairs. For example, monitoring electrical transformers’ operation against performance baselines (e.g. oil temperature, power spikes) can help avoid explosions and extend lifespan.
Advisory services can fill resource gaps for a hotel and also save time and expense. A hotel can expect up to 29 percent less unscheduled maintenance on HVAC and up to 15 percent reduced cost of maintenance projects. Service providers can also help quantify the return on investment for any project, including time and money saved.
For More Information about Connected Hotel Technology
Discover EcoStruxure™ for Hotels. Schneider Electric offers a complete range of integrated EcoStruxure hotel applications like EcoStruxure Building Operation, EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert, and hotel services like EcoStruxure Building Advisor and EcoStruxure Power Advisor.