Finding fault: outcome-based fault detection
FM Workspace360 looks at the new and innovative intelligent fault detection service for smart buildings. By TIFFANY PACZEK.
Smart buildings just keep getting smarter. Every other day brings new changes, technologies and innovations, making these facilities in which we live and work ever more superior and efficient. Software company BuildingIQ has recently added to this frontier with the development of its Outcome-based Fault Detection (OFD) – an intelligent fault detection service for smart buildings.
Essentially, with OFD, building operators and facility managers can autonomously detect, prioritise and validate building system faults using BuildingIQ’s cloud-based 5i Intelligent Energy Platform. This is a platform of technology-enabled services that learns and evolves with a building, or a portfolio of a building’s needs. Deployment occurs only once, when building owners and operators engage with BuildingIQ, giving them the ability to select the services that best solve current problems and then easily add new ones to confront demands that may arise in the future.
Drawing on this, OFD is a closed-loop building energy management service that helps building and portfolio operators identify issues, prioritise repairs and validate any work performed. Through a combination of AI, energy analytics and human expertise, OFD was created to overcome many of the shortcomings that plague today’s fault detection and diagnostic (FDD) services. These challenges include a deluge of daily faults that are cumbersome to prioritise and action, lack of accountability for fault validation, and the high cost of defining and writing rules that identify accurate faults due to a lack of documentation of how systems operate in reality versus the design documents.
“Outcome-based Fault Detection is a comprehensive solution that takes fault detection in a better and broader direction,” says Michael Nark, president and CEO of BuildingIQ. “It does this by embracing the key role played by facility experts and augments it with machine learning and cutting edge artificial intelligence.
“OFD works whether data is good or spotty and leverages machine learning to take the burden of data analytics into the cloud. The result is building operators do not have to waste valuable time and resources scouring through tables of hundreds of daily faults. Instead, with OFD, operators can focus on the things that truly need fixing, their tenants and the bottom line,” he says.
BuildingIQ developed the OFD as a full- service offering. Vice president of Product and Marketing Steve Nguyen says, “Leading FDD solutions are built on a library of rules and sequences created for the building. In contrast, OFD is deployed and managed in the cloud by BuildingIQ, including diagnostics, ticketing, work tracking and work validation. OFD also relies heavily on artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and characterise faults.”
OFD is a service that sits on top of the 5i Intelligent Energy Platform, which rests between the huge transition in the building’s operations journey from energy visualisation to predictive energy optimisation. Its steps are as follows:
- baseline – understanding the building’s energy profile and how it acts in varying weather
- data consumption and trending – ingesting and storing any data provided by the building system or IoT-type devices (unlike a typical building management system (BMS), BuildingIQ stores up to 10 years of data for analytics)
- rules-based detection – detecting logic- based, value-based and trend-based alarms
- AI-based detection – uncovering the underlying system dynamics and relationships driving faults while learning to identify deviations from the expected operation
- triage/prioritisation – collaborating closely with client teams, BuildingIQ Network Operations and building experts take AI-based diagnoses and apply practical, system and building specific insights
- ticketing – ticketing assignment and tracking using either BuildingIQ’s own Facility Worksite service, or that of a client, is included
- planning/actioning with the BuildingIQ Mobile App – identifying opportunities for catalysing work in collaboration with experienced building engineers and facility managers at BuildingIQ, whether it is a monthly service visit from a controls contractor or a yearly budgeting process, and
- validation/accountability – validating all completed work by comparing data from the time period post-fix to the original data that generated the issue.
For facility managers, OFD can eliminate the large majority of false positives that plague traditional fault systems. Nguyen says, “The facilities team does not need to waste time figuring out which faults to action. Additionally, OFD can validate that a subcontractor, or others, has completed work simply by looking at the data. Finally, OFD benefits facility teams and management by collecting and storing all historical information (analyses, best practices etc), which documents a history of the building in a central knowledge repository.”
An important innovation in OFD is the ability to work better than fault systems in poor data situations, due to its non-reliance on full data sets. “Using data analytics, BuildingIQ does not need complete data to identify issues within a building,” Nguyen explains. “For example, OFD identifies a fault in a water pump where the electric engine suddenly drops or spikes in energy consumption. BuildingIQ analytics can infer an issue with the water pump looking at the system as a whole and/or downstream equipment that
is behaving abnormally without requiring a sensor on the pump itself.”
Nark says, “With OFD, we are able to address the somewhat ironic phenomenon of too much data coming out of buildings and not enough people or budget to take actions.
“OFD really extends the category with an end-to-end service offering that augments facility teams with a closed-loop service and demonstrable accountability. For once, facility teams are not going it alone.”
OFD required the invention of entirely new AI diagnostic tools designed to work both independently and cooperatively. For the correlation and inference maps, BuildingIQ had to invent the methodology for how to apply these AI tools to buildings and how to diagnose root causes, all without creating custom rules for a particular building.
Nguyen adds, “It is important to note that by eliminating the need to create rules, OFD is faster to implement with lower capital
costs. OFD is a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering that is data-driven and employs the latest AI methodologies for buildings. This also means that as BuildingIQ continues to develop OFD capabilities, customers automatically receive the benefit through the cloud.” ●
This article also appears in the October/November issue of Facility Management magazine.
Image: 123RFs Sergey Nivens © 123RF