Over the last fifteen years, BeMS technology has matured, in-line with more traditional IT trends. Increasingly, open standards and protocols and being adopted; although we still have some way to go before we can categorise the BeMS industry as being fully open standards based. Flexible, cost effective hardware coupled with significantly more advanced and reliable software solutions, means clients can now not just control their environment, they can optimise and transform it as well.
Optimisation of an environment and its controls, can lead to significant energy savings, but that really is just the tip of the iceberg. As we will discuss later in this article, the ability to dynamically control building and environmental systems will drive both operational and capex costs down; in addition to the optimisation of corporate assets, which in turn can drive a transformation of the business in a way that could not have been considered practical previously.
What has changed in order to support these opportunities for businesses? The short answer is, data, and lots of it; in recent years the growth of data across the world has increased 10-fold from 2009 to 2015; and it shows no sign of slowing down.
This explosion in data being generated by corporations and individuals has been partly driven by the increasing telecommunications bandwidth being offered by providers, both fixed line and mobile; combined with the applications and devices we use in our day-to-day lives. As the costs of 3g and 4g mobile data tariffs continue to decrease, an ever-expanding world of connected devices generating data (Internet of Things) will continue to grow and generate Zettabytes of data; by 2020 data creation will be 44 times greater than in 2009[i].
Making sense of this data and enabling information and subsequent business decisions to be derived from it, is a major area of activity and investment for organisations across the globe. Is it worth investing in ways to leverage this untapped resource? We believe the answer is a resounding yes, for those that do, they are twice as likely to be in the top quartile of financial performance within their respective industry[ii]. Organisations are now leveraging previously untapped data resources and integrating them with their BeMS in order to drive significant performance improvements across the business.
BeMS is moving out from the boiler room, into the management suite and boardroom; driving the very nature of how organisations structure their working environments and maximise corporate assets.
It seems that every technology partner in the BeMS space has been rolling out dashboards over the last couple of years, in order that organisations can better manage their energy usage and reduce costs. Dashboards by themselves are not enough in order to drive lasting change and optimisation, the most successful projects we have seen in recent times are those carried out by clients who are investing in a programme of continuous improvement across the BeMS environment and wider estate. Improved hardware and software, designed and written that supports real-world cost savings, needs to be planned and delivered in a fashion that maximises the return and significantly reduces the Total Cost of Ownership(TCO).
It is recognised by most within the construction industry that the 10-80-10 TCO rule genuinely reflects the costs per stage of a large construction project. With 10% of costs going into the design and construction, the same again for dismantling and demolition; leaving 80% of costs in order to operate the facility over its lifetime[iii]. We have seen clients who have invested(positive ROI within 12 months) in order to reduce those operational costs[iv] by as much as 30% per annum, via a well defined and structured approach to ongoing BeMS optimisation.
Optimisation of a BeMS environment should not be seen as the end game, but rather the foundation that will enable you to optimise a wider set of corporate assets driving business transformation. Later in this article we will outline a blueprint solution architecture in order that you can plan and execute a strategy in order to drive business transformation. But first, lets review what we term as the four Control Stages of Maturity[v] (CSM) levels.
1. Control Fundamentals
Fundamental control systems enabling configuration, updates, reporting and management of plant and facilities via a networked environment, backed-up by a quality service and maintenance programme.
2. Data, Analytics and Reporting
Capture of data from sensors, plant and devices with the ability to analyse data and provide reporting and management information, driving improved understanding of the real-world operational environment; leading to a pro-active approach to servicing, maintenance and upgrades.
3. Control Optimisation
Taking the data analysis and identifying trends and opportunities for optimisation, resulting in a process of continuous improvement across all aspects of controls. This often involves developing proof of concepts and trials in order to achieve the necessary objectives. In order to be truly successful, optimisation processes need to be planned, monitored and actively managed in order to ensure they deliver genuine business benefit.
4. Asset Optimisation and Business Transformation
Leveraging information around the usage of fixed assets such as plant, buildings and estates, combined with other data sources such as telco and social media; dynamic autonomous decisions can be made around energy and facilities management.
Sounds like something to consider for the future? Well, the future is here now, organisations that are undertaking and operating at stage 4 of the CSM, are able to provide a level of information hereto untapped in order to maximise high value corporate assets. Buildings and estates provide a rich source of unutilised data, telco, weather, building usage; connecting these sources of data, allows business to derive information and make business decisions like never before. Large assets such as buildings are expensive to manage for organisations. Leveraging dark data[vi], businesses can understand how assets are truly used and respond accordingly. Imagine a building that self manages its facilities, cleaning, lighting, catering and most importantly utilisation. Buildings that can optimise the amount and type of people who are using it, will result in significant cost savings for organisations.
Businesses that provide their staff with smart phones and tablets, can leverage usage data, movement and the types of activity undertaken by the various roles within an organisation, in order to ascertain the best location for people to work. Using real-time location, activity, forecast and planned activity data, in conjunction with control aspects of a building, can inform strategic decisions around freeing up fixed assets and maximising the usage of entire estates.
If your business really understood how your buildings were being used and could either reduce the size of the estate or improve its utilisation ratio, would that be valuable to you?
In order to undertake and operate at stage 4 of the CSM, organisations need an integrated solution architecture, that can not only store the data and information securely, but also provide reliable and dynamic systems that can support decisions around strategic asset optimisation.
A one-stop-technology-solution is not the answer in our opinion; but rather, an integrated approach levering market leading technology components and combining key data sources; is the optimum way in order to derive dynamic automation and business insights.
Your building or estate can and should be driving dynamic controls and ongoing automation; driving down operational costs, lowering energy bills and providing an improved environment in which to work, rest and play.
At global, we provide the skills and capability in order to support organisations that want to lead their prospective industry sectors, feel free to get in touch.
[i] CSC - Big Data Universe Beginning to Explode : http://www.csc.com/insights/flxwd/78931-big_data_universe_beginning_to_explode
[ii] BAIN & COMPANY - Big Data : The organizational challenge : http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/big_data_the_organizational_challenge.aspx
[iii] Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA) and Building & Engineering Services Association
[iv] Savings relate to energy and support costs from a sample set of global-associates clients
[v] Control, Stages of Maturity (CSM) is part of the global methodology, which is used to drive increased value for clients
[vi] As defined by Gartner - http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/dark-data