Intelligent Building Service & Management Trends

For decades, most facility professionals have relied on either reactive or preventive maintenance strategies to keep their buildings’ heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), and other mechanical systems, running efficiently.

Often called the “run-to-fail” approach, a reactive maintenance scheme relies on the use of in-house staff or third-party contractors to repair equipment after it breaks down. In a preventive maintenance model, facility teams try to avoid problems by following industry and manufacturer guidelines to inspect and service equipment at recommended intervals.

Technology advances and the ability to turn raw building system data into useful information have changed the game for facility professionals at healthcare and educational institutions. New intelligent service offerings give facility teams the tools they need to improve building system performance and drive significantly higher levels of system reliability and uptime.

As a result, their buildings use less energy, cost less to operate, have smaller environmental footprints and—most importantly—become productive assets that help their organizations achieve their primary healthcare or educational missions.

Critical Strategies
A well-designed and well-executed building operating and service strategy is essential to achieving optimum building system performance, especially in today’s high performance buildings. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) emphasizes the importance of an effective and well-deployed service strategy, noting that a poorly designed building that is well-operated and maintained will consistently outperform a well-designed building with a substandard approach to service.

Service requirements can vary depending on a building’s size, location, function and mission. For example, a large regional hospital may require a different approach than a smaller specialty facility, and a multi-building college campus may have different service needs than a typical high school building.

Regardless of a building’s function, choosing and applying an appropriate service solution is one of the most important decisions that facility professionals make. An effective service strategy ensures that building systems deliver the comfort, reliability, efficiency and mission-effectiveness they need at a cost that makes sense both short-term and over the entire building lifecycle.
Many facility leaders in the education and healthcare industries have found that the conventional approaches to maintenance—namely reactive and preventive schemes—no longer meet the needs of their organizations. Intelligent Services Today’s most advanced intelligent services platforms use predictive or reliability-centered maintenance models, which enable facility professionals and their service partners to collect, analyze and act on real-time system data. As a result, service tasks are performed when service is actually needed. This is a step-change improvement over conventional maintenance models, which rely on the calendar or hour-meter to determine what equipment should be serviced and when.

For example, embedded sensors can be used to monitor the performance of an HVAC fan motor and alert operators if vibration levels exceed the norm so they can replace or repair the unit before it fails. Or, the maintenance team can change air filters based on the airflow rate and air quality readings rather than on an established schedule, reducing costs and improving efficiency.

Enabled by technology, new intelligent service platforms put real-time, actionable building performance information in the hands of healthcare and educational facility teams, helping them make data-based decisions that improve building performance.

The most advanced of these platforms continuously collect, interpret and act upon data from building systems and controls, giving facility directors the tools they need to manage energy consumption, reduce operating costs, minimize their environmental impact, improve building system reliability and uptime, and resolve more problems sooner, faster and more effectively.

The leading intelligent service platforms offer various levels of service such as alarm notification, active monitoring, and building performance.

An alarm notification offering includes 24-hour, seven-day monitoring of building systems and the ability for facility teams to work directly with a remote service facility. The in-house team is automatically notified if a critical event happens.

Users also received around-the-clock system monitoring and alerting services in an active-monitoring model. Technical specialists are also available to analyze trends and address problems immediately from a central location. In the experience of a leading provider of indoor comfort solutions and services, as many as 40 percent of problems can get resolved remotely, without the need to dispatch a technician, which reduces costs and improves response time.

Building Performance Model
“Building performance” is the most advanced intelligent service offering. This approach applies the best available analytics, diagnostics and human expertise for a step-change improvement in service capabilities and efficiency. Intelligent service providers start by conducting a complete audit to evaluate the performance of key building systems, identify potential problems, determine current energy use and set operating standards that are consistent with the healthcare or educational mission.

Standards are typically set in such categories as energy and water use, environmental performance, occupant health and comfort, and system reliability. With a building performance approach, facility professionals can set air quality, temperature, humidity, lighting, ventilation and other standards for individual physical areas within one or multiple building sites.

For example, a facilities team might set air quality, temperature, humidity and air pressure standards for different units, departments or buildings. The platform continuously monitors multiple locations in the facility and automatically adjusts settings to maintain stable pressure differentials, humidity levels and temperature conditions for each specific location and critical area.

The most sophisticated offerings use monitoring, diagnostics and analytics to keep each area of the building operating within acceptable tolerances of established standards. Data from various building systems are continuously collected and analyzed and the platform either automatically responds or provides specific recommendations to keep the building operating at performance levels chosen by the operator.

Hospitals or schools also can designate a key piece of equipment, such as a chilled water system, as mission essential because its failure would disrupt operations and impact patient care standards. Smart services offerings can use analytical fault detection and diagnostic software to continuously monitor the system’s operation and alert technicians before a small anomaly can turn into a big problem.

The availability of actionable information— in the right place, at the right time and in the right hands—can mean the difference between an efficient, reliable building and one that uses too much energy, costs too much to operate and puts the organization’s mission at risk.

  • The availability of actionable information can mean the difference between a reliable building and one that puts the organization’s mission at risk.

    Neil Maldeis is energy solutions engineering leader for Trane, a leading global provider of indoor comfort solutions and services.

Ingersoll Rand: 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards by Achievers

Achievers, providers of the only true-cloud Employee Success Platform™, today announced its Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ in the United States and Canada for 2013. This annual award recognizes top employers that display leadership and innovation in engaging employees making their workplaces more productive. The awards honor the top 50 companies in the U.S. and the top 50 companies in Canada.

San Francisco and Toronto-based Achievers is the only software provider to recognize companies who make engagement, alignment and recognition a foundational part of their workforce enablement strategy.

“The companies we honor as the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ have made employee engagement, alignment and recognition a very high priority because they understand how critical it is and what a competitive advantage it provides,” said Achievers CEO, Patrick D. Quirk. “These companies serve as role models for other businesses by creating an engagement strategy that cultivates a high-performing workplace.”

The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards panel of judges evaluated each applicant based on the Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™: Communication, Leadership, Culture, Rewards & Recognition, Professional & Personal Growth, Accountability & Performance, Vision & Values and Corporate Social Responsibility.

The panel of 14 judges included various academics and thought leaders on employee engagement and included representation from organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA), Human Capital Institute (HCI) and the Northern California HR Association.

Recipients of the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards will be honored at award galas on March 6, 2014 in Toronto and on April 2, 2014 in San Francisco.

For more information about Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™, please visit www.achievers.com/engaged. Follow the conversation on Twitter at @Achievers or use #Achievers50.

The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ in the United States in alphabetical order include:
1. Agrium Inc.
2. Akraya Inc.
3. American Infrastructure
4. AMN Healthcare
5. Apigee Corp.
6. Atlas Oil Company
7. AutoTrader Group
8. Black Hills Corporation
9. Bluegreen Vacations
10. CBRE
11. Cisco – Services Platforms Group
12. Cypress Semiconducter
13. Deltek
14. Dimension Data North America
15. Dyn
16. EasyCare
17. Enova International, Inc.
18. Infosys Limited (Financial Services & Insurance Business Unit)
19. Ingersoll Rand
20. Jamba Juice
21. Listen Up Español
22. Medtech College
23. MGM Resorts International
24. Milgard Windows and Doors
25. Mondo
26. Mountain America Credit Union
27. NetSuite Inc.
28. NextEra Energy, Inc.
29. Power Design, Inc.
30. Premier, Inc.
31. Protiviti
32. Quest Diagnostics
33. QuEST Global
34. RichRelevance
35. Roth Staffing Companies
36. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
37. Ryan, LLC
38. Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation Centers
39. Smart & Final
40. StudyPoint, Inc.
41. Sundance Vacations
42. TATA Consultancy Services Ltd.
43. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
44. Total Quality Logistics
45. Ultimate Software
46. Venterra Realty
47. Virtusa Corporation
48. Vocus
49. World Travel Holdings
50. Zappos.com Inc.

Google Glass: A Vision of the Future for Data Center Maintenance

Jeffrey Dutschke is an industry research specialist and blogger at Maintenance Assistant Inc, a provider of innovative web-based CMMS. CMMS software offers a way to manage facilities and infrastructure equipment at data centers.

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How will your facilities maintenance team complete their work orders in three years time? Google Glass is one highly probable answer.

Walking along the data center floor, I spotted the telltale signs of a water leak from a CRAC unit. “OK Glass, create a work order. Asset: Crac021. Issue description: water pump leak.”

 

Introducing Google Glass

Google Glass is a portable computer worn like a pair of glasses. It makes accessible, without being touched, a camera, microphone, and speaker, with wifi and Bluetooth communication. The Glass wearer can communicate with the Glass using voice commands and tap gestures on the touch pad. Glass communicates to the user with a bone-conducting speaker and a heads-up display positioned above the right eye. Using the camera, the wearer can take photos and record video and send to friends and colleagues. Basically, it’s a smart phone you wear!

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See Data Center Maintenance Differently Through Google Glass

When fitted with safety lenses, Google Glass provides a great opportunity to revolutionize the way data center technicians perform their daily tasks. When dedicated maintenance and repair applications are developed, the data center technician will directly connect to the maintenance database when completing usual maintenance activities, and more.

Today’s Applications for Google Glass

For the data center maintenance technician of today, Google Glass technology will easily integrate with their day-to-day work activities. SMS messages, twitter and email messages can be read on the heads-up display of Google Glass.  Instantly, this makes the device an ideal way to receive work orders sent via email or text message. The device is also a video telephone which can be used to get help when diagnosing a fault; help from more experienced technician or from the help center of the equipment manufacturer. For apprentices and new hires, this will be an amazing way of interacting with their supervisor and getting advice while on the job.

Tomorrow’s Applications for Google Glass

When CMMS vendors develop applications that run on Glass, the future maintenance and repair applications for Google Glass are endless. Here are some ideas for data center facility maintenance:

1. Revolutionized Work Orders

Voice commands will become commonplace in data centers. “OK Glass”, will start, followed by “submit work request”, “complete work order”, “view previous work orders”, “add photograph”, or “add video”. No pen or keyboard will be required to record maintenance data, it will be done with speech-to-text recognition. It will help keep your CRAC, HVAC and backup generators in optimal working condition.

Regular preventive maintenance is critical to maintaining the reliability of your data center infrastructure. SOP, EOP and MOP procedures and labor tasks for planned maintenance will be presented on the heads-up display as the technician works. When he or she needs, technicians can access to vital information for the equipment on which they are working, while they are working. Details such as schematics, bill of materials and safe operating procedures will be easily viewed.  Imagine looking at a circuit diagram whilst in a dark and confined space fixing the actual circuit. It will be possible with Google Glass.

Procedural videos could be recorded by experienced technicians could be attached to the asset or work order in the CMMS and will be viewed by another technician doing the same job in the future.

2. Fast Parts Identification and Reordering

As new parts are being installed during work, its QR code will be scanned with the camera, and the part automatically consumed in the work order. Its costs will be accounted for, and replacement stock ordered from the supplier. Defective parts will be quickly scanned and replacements ordered from stores.

3. Real-Time Heat Mapping

Power failures are one of the biggest causes of datacenter downtime. Subject experts recommend performing IR scans on electrical connectors at least once a year. Maybe a little further in the future, Glass came with an infrared camera option. When datacenter technicians are performing their regular planned work, Google Glass could be using the infrared camera to inspect electrical connectors heat signatures as the technician works and highlight any pending issues.

4. Advanced Data Capture

Furthermore, because Google Glass makes the process of gathering and recording information easy, it could be used as an audit trail.

How Far Away Is This Future?

Until now, Google Glass has only been available in limited quantities to selected users, but it has been reported that Google Glass will be released for public sale in 2014. The device could be employed in data centers immediately but maintenance specific functionality will only become available when CMMS and EAM software developers develop the required apps.

Making the transition to an innovative CMMS solution early will make for an easy transition to Google Glass easy when they become available. Technicians will love the functionality they offer, engineers and accountants will appreciate the data they provide, and management will love the cost savings they deliver.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

Sustainability in Higher Education – Bringing Old Life to New Buildings

When most people hear the word “sustainability” they think of consumer products, like post-consumer paper cup’s from a local coffee shop. It’s harder to get people to understand how sustainability applies to our infrastructure, like the buildings in which we all live, work, learn and play.

In the higher education arena, many large institutions are facing this challenge as they try to get decision makers and stakeholders to understand the fact that large buildings need to make strides to meet energy efficiency and sustainability goals now, before they become mandates. Current sustainability challenges are becoming more prevalent in older higher education institutions, where building performance has begun to drop off, while indoor comfort remains steadily important and vital to fostering a good learning environment.

This was an important topic of conversation at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) in October, where I presented a case study on a community college that stands out among the rest, as it is already meeting sustainability goals.

Central Piedmont Community College is North Carolina’s largest community college, made up of six campuses and over three million square feet. Central Piedmont serves over 70,000 students, functioning as a true community college – supporting the region in education while keeping up with the changing economy and local industries – and thus has seen 33 percent growth since 2007.

While the school system is relatively large, its utility bill is proportionally small. The total utility cost for the 2012-2013 school year came in at $3.66 million, an increase of only 8 percent over 2007. Yet the school’s energy use intensity (EUI) dropped drastically over the same six years at nearly 30 percent, meaning the college successfully reduced consumption.

This reduction did not come without sound practices that have lead Central Piedmont to become an institution leader in sustainability. The college set aggressive goals for itself, including benchmarking utilities, managing performance contracts, and designing guides for waste and air pollution as well as future construction projects that take both energy efficiency and sustainability into account.

To help with compliance, Central Piedmont ensures all new students and employees understand its sustainability practices with training on its recycling and energy policies and goals. They also offer a number of classes that teach students actual sustainability practices, like how to make bio-diesel, composting, and future building automation systems.

In January the school is adding a new classroom building which will include rooftop space for solar thermal, solar photo voltaic, wind and smart grid labs.

Even with strong sustainability practices in place, the school still identified a need for additional cost savings. The school worked with Trane to reduce energy use by retrofitting more than 30 buildings throughout the six campuses, reducing both energy and water consumption. The school’s retrofits were split over two performance contracts and have guaranteed at least $950,000 in cost savings annually.

While Central Piedmont Community College is a great success story, the reality for many institutions is that getting buy-in from internal stakeholders such as school boards, faculty and students can be a big obstacle to adopting sustainable practices. However, a trusted advisor like Trane can help provide data on energy consumption reductions and cost savings benefits to help bring everyone on board. In the end, efficiency and sustainability upgrades can help breathe new life into institutions young and old

Click here to learn more about how Trane works with higher education customers to deliver improved building performance and reduced operating costs.

 

AUTHOR: Rich Penner