Larger properties have thousands of stakeholders, carry significant foot traffic, and play a critical role in the everyday life of their communities. From an operations perspective, they are very challenging and owners can suffer large penalties when things go wrong. Building owners often employ the services of building operators who provide facilities managers and outsourced contractors for specific elements and works on the buildings.

I recently sat in a meeting with a Facilities Manager (FM) and their Maintenance Contractors presenting some of the faults and tuning opportunities identified by CIM Enviro’s ACE Platform.  One of the faults I presented was a boiler that had gone into fault and was no longer operating. Before I could even finish presenting the fault, the Contractor decided he had heard enough and interrupted me, declaring that he had serviced that boiler earlier that week and that our platform must be wrong.  The certainty in his voice and conviction in his delivery certainly had me thinking for a split second that he was right! The Operations Manager even backed him up stating that he remembered him working on it, and had been charged for the call-out.  

Not so long ago I would have been in a tricky situation. I was 2 vs 1 and both my reputation and the reputation of my company being questioned. Today, however, there was no need to push the panic button. With the help of CIM Enviro’s ACE Platform I was able to quickly and readily display weeks of relevant trend data which showed not just when the boiler was operating but how it was operating – the actual operation of the boiler.  

As it transpired the Contractor had actually fixed the wrong boiler, charged their client for the works, but the boiler in question was still out of operation.  Whilst this left the Contractor and Operations Manager feeling a bit eggy in the face it clearly highlighted a fundamental issue facing building owners and operators – reliance on expertise. 

Expertise was the currency sought and bought to ensure assets were running as effectively and efficiently as possible and that penalties and wastage could be avoided. This reliance has left some building owner/operators frustrated as expertise levels invariably differ from company to company and technician to technician.

Analytics helps solve this problem by unlocking valuable data that was previously hidden behind proprietary vendor systems and provides it in an easily digestible format that allows owners and operators to make better, data-driven decisions around the operation and maintenance of their buildings.  It also safeguards the operational performance of the building against fluctuations in personnel expertise, providing owners and operators objective issues to talk about.

The end product of these data-driven decisions leads to a host of benefits ranging from energy/carbon reduction, thermal comfort improvements, streamlined maintenance, operational improvements, increased asset lifespan and an increase in collaboration between building owners, contractors, managers and other stakeholders. 

Building services are complex, integrated systems that have many numerous interconnected components. To achieve optimum, peak performance requires all the pieces of the puzzle to be working and communicating harmoniously and this is not an easy feat.  So when issues arise it is not often easy to determine the exact cause of the issue. A human could spend hours trying to determine the cause of an issue and still not get it right. Data analytics, however, can determine the root cause of a problem as soon as or even before it occurs, providing a quantum leap in the time and manner in which the correct information can be ascertained.

Data analytics provides the most accurate lens into the actual operation of a building. Data isn’t subject to interpretation and it doesn’t mislead or exaggerate. The best advice any building owner or operator can get in operations is not from people, but from people empowered by real-time data.

Written by Tom Balme, Technical Account Manager. A shorter version of this article was published by Construction Engineering Australia.