Building trends, building momentum

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Smart building technology allows FMs to see and react to building trends.

Countless technological developments are in the process of redefining the way we work, but the most important align with three key macro trends, explains HIMANSHU KHURANA.

A statistic that will surprise some while being painfully obvious to others is that the average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. For many people, that means tens of thousands of hours sitting at a desk or performing some sort of task within the walls of a building.

While smart homes may get the headlines, smart builders are just as, if not more impactful based on the amount of time we occupy commercial, institutional and industrial spaces and the amount of space those facilities occupy in our cities and towns.

Released in late 2018, IDC’s Global IoT Decision Maker Survey reported that 46.5 percent of Australian companies have deployed at least one Internet of Things (IoT) solution and are planning on expanding their systems further in the future. That’s double the amount of companies that were using IoT solutions only five years ago. This proves that Australia is willing and able to implement new technologies in order to improve comfort and productivity, reduce the use of energy and other utilities and cut operating expenses day to day.

Countless developments are in the process of defining the way facility managers and their assets will operate in the future, and many of them align with three key macro trends that have gained substantial momentum and are in the process of being scaled and expanded for broader use.

Predictive and digitised maintenance

Now that buildings can be connected at scale, it’s possible to extract data and map back to a digital twin model to better understand how facilities operate. A digital twin is a cyber-model or ‘avatar’ of physical assets, processes and systems, which is used to optimise operations and maintenance. Plus, through various techniques, possible failures or outages can be predicated and problems solved before they happen or create larger issues across a network or broader grid.

This is possible because of the ability to collect, integrate and analyse data in a meaningful way. The best part is these capabilities can be deployed either at a single building or throughout an organisation’s entire portfolio of facilities, allowing for more control over all operations.

Scalable operations

As expectations for buildings increase, more departments, such as IT and HR, are responsible for paying attention to and prioritising building operations.

It’s no longer the role of a facility manager to hover over a monitor in a far-off corner of the building. Now, technologies have advanced interfaces and intuitive experiences and workflows that allow key decision makers and other employees to gather the information and guidance they need to execute jobs effectively and make smarter judgement calls.

Intelligent hardware

Hardware isn’t going anywhere. As transformative as software may be, hardware will always have a role to play. In buildings, we’re seeing hardware-specific enhancements in areas such as HVAC, security and fire.

When empowered, this hardware has advanced computing capabilities, more wireless connectivity and the ability to do more at the edge, including analytics.

Operating on the edge enhances advanced applications like edge to cloud. Once you connect the systems in the building to the cloud it’s all about visibility. Other benefits include accessibility from anywhere, easy upgrades and data integration. Insight into the data plus applications allows for more efficient operations.

Beyond these macro trends

Intertwined in all of this is the ever-present and important need for cybersecurity. Increased connectivity and data capture represents increased potential for data leaks and breaches. When systems are networked and connected, cybersecurity solutions need to be implemented and at the ready to decrease risk or improve recovery time if crises hit.

Proactive maintenance, secure configuration and incident readiness and advisory are all factors that play into the cybersecurity maturity life cycle, adding increased layers of protection and implementing best practices for smart buildings and their ongoing developments.

Although these trends help plot a general course to long-term efficiency and savings, every building is unique in how it’s designed, how it’s used and how it changes. Yet there are constants. Every building needs agility, speed and adaptability. It’s important to continue to use IoT to leverage the data that can be collected from smart buildings, allowing business to go deeper into analytics and increase operational efficiencies and productivity gains while still ensuring a good level of protection.

It’s exciting to see where buildings will go next.

Himanshu Khurana is the chief technology officer, Honeywell Building Solutions.


Image: 123RF’s Sergey Nivens, ©

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