Originally published in Interiors & Sources

04/19/2013

The Visual World of a Facilities Manager

How technology like Johnson Controls Panoptix helps facilities manager visualize their data.

By Brian Pfeifer, Site Operations Supervisor, Johnson Controls

 

A little more than 25 years ago, facilities managers had the capability to see what was mechanically happening in their buildings through a fixed computer station. The data downloading was immense, yet useful and provided us a sense of efficiency that we didn’t have before. A decade later, technology evolved, data was more refined and laptops gave us greater mobility. Now, we have the capabilities to use smart phones to monitor and take control of our buildings. We can do this at a moment’s notice, anywhere in the world and at any time of day. And face it, everyone’s working harder and leaner and so when technology becomes available to help with better process and efficiency, it’s worth taking notice.

Our role as facilities manager has also changed throughout the years because of technology. Long gone are the days of just fixing machines, turning off lights, and making sure the office is warm or cool enough. We need to be strategic and tactical planners; smarter buildings have allowed us to do that. Building technology has streamlined and organized the way we operate nearly everything by providing the ability to immediately translate important data and use it to generate more achievable efficiencies. This process creates ease of functionality by providing visual dashboards that ensure systems are running well. This same technology also quickly flags and isolates problem areas, pinpointing where to focus attention to correct any issues.

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As we know, no day is ever the same. Seasonal changes, building usages, unforeseen machine failures, scheduled maintenance, etc., are all factors that make up our day. Some mornings we may get an early wake-up call from our smart building alerting us to an issue. Now, we can look at the alert and the analyzed data, hit a button and the problem is fixed. If necessary, a technician can also be alerted through a text and dispatched to the exact location to take care of it. For the most part though, we no longer have to physically go to the source of the issue, which in the past cost time and money to businesses.

Depending on the season, we may need to check the energy usage hourly or daily to make sure they are within set limits. We rely on dashboards as a tool to analyze and display discrepancies between baseline and actual energy data usage, helping to highlight areas that can be adjusted. Alarms are set to alert us when they are reaching a set threshold of energy consumption. Adjustments can be made to curb and react before it’s too late.

An example of this type of technology is the Continuous Diagnostic Advisor. This is an App used within Johnson Controls Panoptix solution that allows us to see what the building automation systems see 24/7/365. The App keeps us apprised of problems that may waste energy and impact the comfort of building occupants. The App also helps optimize the system’s performance, saves money and energy and more accurately predicts maintenance needs.

Today’s building owners have high expectations and demand a maximum return on their investment. They expect us to keep operating costs at a minimum, while maintaining a safe environment. This requires using smart technology to anticipate problems in buildings and correcting them long before there is a significant decline in efficiency due to wasteful operation or the system fails altogether

We can’t manage what we don’t know and investing in the latest smart building technology keeps us informed by putting operational management at our fingertips. When buildings are created to work smarter, we work smarter. This keeps building owners happy and frees up time to focus on other important projects. Smart buildings are simply a better use of time and money.

 

 
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