Imagine you just joined a new team. On your first day, you need to know everything from where your desk will be to the systems you need access to and the teammates with whom you’ll be working. Without that, you can’t get started on your new job — and that would make for quite an awkward first day!
The same goes for bringing in new technology that enables efficiency within your organization. For facility managers, the most important technology for driving energy efficiency is automated fault detection and diagnostic (FDD). To ensure a successful integration and fast results, you need to know exactly how your FDD will be integrated with your team(s) and workflows. For without a process in place to manage and respond to important diagnostics findings, there is only limited value, much like a new employee who doesn’t get a first-day orientation.
In this post, we will break down how facilities teams should think about the benefits of an automated FDD technology solution and how one is best implemented within an organization.
Thinking Big Picture With Automated FDD
Often when companies seek to improve energy efficiency, ideas like installing new LED lights, VAV boxes and pumps come to mind. While the intentions may be good (after all, we love a good LED light!), what’s needed is to look at the big picture first. More specifically, you want to think in terms of what can be done to increase the efficiency of an entire portfolio of buildings (new and old alike) to capture savings and make the biggest impact across operations management.
This means being able to gain deep insights into the entire portfolio to understand things like energy values, comfort levels and the severity of various maintenance issues. And this goes far deeper than replacing light bulbs and a few VAV boxes here and there — it means looking at opportunities across the board for improvement that can make the most impact. That is all to say, companies can do a great deal more with far fewer resources by leveraging automated FDD.
Automated FDD as a Bottom-Up Approach for Improving Efficiency
The way automated FDD collects such expansive yet targeted insights is by connecting to all of your building automation systems (BAS). And the good part about this is BAS are becoming increasingly open, meaning they can better talk to other technologies like automated FDD solutions to communicate performance data.
Connecting to your existing BAS, automated FDD can turn mountains of data across buildings and equipment into actionable information by locating operational inefficiencies and energy waste to pinpoint the biggest opportunities for improvement. No more cobbling together disparate data points or sifting through this data manually to find the needle in the haystack.
Whereas some solutions collect a laundry list of problems from your BAS, leaving it up you to diagnose and prioritize issues, automated FDD does much more. Collecting issues is in fact just the first step. From there, automated FDD solutions are able to correlate issues to identify root causes, giving you prioritized actions you can take that will result in the biggest improvements. And if your automated FDD is really sophisticated, it should be able to further prioritize those findings based on impact to energy efficiency, comfort levels and equipment functionality.
How to Implement Automated FDD Into Existing Workflows
At KGS Buildings, we work alongside many of our customers to implement our automated FDD solution, Clockworks™, and there are a few key best practices we’ve learned along the way. Facilities who follow these achieve the most impact from day one.
First, it’s important to understand that while the technology is essential, without a process for managing and responding to diagnostics findings, there will be limited value. Here, process comes in two flavors: The ownership and the workflow of the technology.
Ownership of the technology is vital. Without ownership, it’s like telling a new hire that they have no boss or team to report to, and on top of that, no email address to communicate with. You’ll send them searching through the job boards in no time! Put simply, you should determine from the get-go which individual or team owns managing the technology and schedules the repairs to avoid confusion and maximize productivity.
Once ownership is defined, workflows must be put in place to ensure maintenance will take place, and in a timely manner. While an automated FDD tool can help teams identify, investigate and track inefficiencies and prioritize maintenance, you must ensure the right workflows are in place to enable your team to act on high priority issues the moment they are flagged. For example, some diagnostic results require programming changes and sensor replacement, while others require mechanical work to be performed. Knowing who is responsible for which actions and how those actions get put in place is crucial.
Now, the extent to which maintenance work is performed in-house vs. by external service providers depends on the organization. For example, some of our customers use Clockworks™ to internally dispatch and plan maintenance every week. Others do not have the resources to review and act on Clockworks insights and prefer to have an energy services company, engineering consultancy, retro-commissioning firm or controls contractor utilize Clockworks™ to drive energy reduction. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who carries out the tasks. Clockworks can help you stay organized and make sure they get done.
The Measured Effects of Automated FDD
So long as your automated FDD tool is based in the cloud and provides an easily accessible dashboard to track and measure work orders and results, it should be easy to view and report on improvements. Not only that, but you should be able to quickly see how issues such as wasteful leaking valves impact your bottom line. Leveraging the near real-time nature of automated FDD means you no longer need to rely on hot/cold calls or a spike in the next energy bill to tell you something has gone awry. With automated FDD, building owners and operators can finally:
- Identify root causes
- Measure energy values, comfort and maintenance metrics
- Drive effective processes for action
Sound like an automated FDD solution is just what the doctor has ordered for your building portfolio? We’d love to show you how Clockworks™can help you establish a proactive, measurable approach to building maintenance.