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Building Predictive Maintenance is a Reality

Concept Evolution

13/08/15 | Sally Wotton

Predictive maintenance has been talked about for many years, promising to revolutionise the Facilities Management industry. There have been some successes with building management systems leading the way, however these have typically been limited to hard services such as heating, ventilation and electrical systems with proprietary protocols for integration.

With a new breed of Cloud Technologies and Internet of Things hardware, predictive maintenance for FM is now becoming a reality across a huge diverse set of functions and services, from the traditional hard FM services through to the softer services of hospitality and cleaning. Traditional deployments are also challenged through cheaper internet connected devices and sensors that open up huge opportunities for retrofitting and delivering Smart Buildings. Gone are the days that only expensive new builds can benefit from smart technologies.

There has been a lot of hype and research into IoT hardware and how this will solve all of our FM problems. The reality is that hardware is just one part of the puzzle, the real challenge is how we manage and act upon the huge data volumes that are inevitable in a truly connected world. The brain (or engine) that processes the data is the key enabler, and sits firmly at the centre of delivering predictive maintenance.

Tools to provide the "brains"

The drive towards cloud technologies with interconnected systems and "things" has delivered many new innovations and a plethora of exciting tools. Emerging out of this is a new breed of tools that provide the predictive maintenance brain. Cloud based "Orchestration" and "Automation" platforms deliver highly configurable tools that allow machine to machine processes to be built easily. These processes can learn and make decisions on your device and sensor data feeds. These decisions then orchestrate and automate additional processes, such as automatic machine adjustment to turn the heating up in a specific location, increase the cleaning schedule for a retail store entrance when it starts to rain, or dispatch a maintenance engineer to look at a heating pump as its vibration measurements have increased over time. These decisions and more importantly the follow up actions can be fully automated.

By embracing web technologies and rich graphical designers, new orchestration tools are delivered as highly scalable cloud services, accessible from anywhere. They are designed to be open and easy to use, and can radically reduce project delivery timelines, and support agile delivery practices with rapid prototyping. Also, by providing access to these new cloud processes through Web Services, the time to market for integration projects are also dramatically reduced.

These tools will revolutionise industry thinking and decision making, however they may also be the final piece of the jigsaw for FM to realise predictive maintenance, changing the way services are delivered forever.