Data Analytics Deepens its Hold on Facilities

February 3, 2016 By Carl Weinschenk

analyticsAt the CES in Las Vegas, Ayla Networks introduced an Internet of Things (IoT)-connected thermostat aimed at commercial and light industrial buildings. The release said that the project was undertaken with Encycle Corp. and that the product will be marketed by United Technologies Electronic Controls (UTEC) under several brand names. The platform combines Ayla’s IoT and Encycle’s energy-demand management system assets. Clearly, providing facility managers with deep data analytics is a key goal of the platform.

The announcement — which occurred at the show in January, which also is known as the Consumer Electronics Show — is representative of the growing relationship between the IoT, the data its sensors collect and facilities. The embedding into the infrastructure of buildings has two major impacts: The abilities to control building functions in real time and to amass mountains of data that can be deeply analyzed to detect often subtle long term patterns. The result: Short- and long-term steps to reduce energy use, increase efficiency and otherwise improve the building’s energy profile.

Industry analyst Miles Smith blogged last week at LinkedIn on the importance of data analytics in facility energy management. He suggests that the low hanging fruit of energy management –deploying LEDs and other obvious steps – have been harvested at most companies. Gains going forward, he writes, will be more subtle and harder to find. That where analytics comes in. He concludes that “[t]he identification of future energy consumption measures (ECMs) will derive mainly from the analysis of campus, building, system and system subcomponent data amalgamated with a host of non-energy datasets.”

In addition to the fact that the low hanging fruit nearly is gone, the extraordinary amount of data collected makes it imperative that the right analytic platforms be put in place. The upside is enormous:

Think of the information opportunities available from work order systems, parking garage data systems, building occupancy records, equipment repair tickets and costs – the list is long and growing. Savvy energy managers can superimpose these datasets onto energy demand and consumption to identify trends, patterns, outliers and opportunities. From the resulting information, they can then develop measures that not only save energy, but extend equipment life, reduce mechanical and maintenance personnel costs, and improve occupant and customer comfort and productivity.

The value of data analytics is immense. Last month, Sourceable discussed the importance of data analytics in retrofits. The good news for planners and facility managers is that the cloud, which has developed in parallel with the IoT, makes it relatively easy to begin benefiting from analytics. However, the story says that it is vital to make sure that the bridge between the data itself and the method for its use is clearly delineated:

One important step when deciding to deploy a data analytics solution is to identify the process that will be used to incorporate the findings into a retrofit strategy. No matter how good the analytics solution, executing on the findings is what drives results.

The piece provides more insight into how to increase the odds that the mountain of information that is collected actually helps. These steps include identifying deployment methods and ways of using “actionable information” that is collected. It also suggests that methods of verifying the achievement of intended results be included in the planning.

The world is not static. Jennifer Potter at the IBM Blog offers her take on trends that will impact the energy analytics sector during the next decade. The piece is aimed a bit more at utilities than facility managers. They are, however, relevant to the latter group as well. Potter’s predictions that are most relevant to people in the facilities management sector include the growth of customer-centric operations,  customer analytics, operational intelligence, distributed generation, energy storage and demand-response. Of course energy efficiency and carbon reduction are continuing concerns.

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