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Predictive Building Analytics: The Future of HVAC Automation

September 05, 2018

predictive analytics, commercial hvac

Would you feel more confident in your building’s performance if technology could predict equipment failures before they happen? In the Internet of Things (IoT) age, this level of insight is possible and is known as predictive analytics. 

Across all industries, IoT is expected to grow from $900 million in 2015 to $3.7B by 2020.1 Thanks to the expanding amount of smart technology, many things we interact with daily — including televisions, refrigerators and stereos — have internet-capable sensors to make every-day tasks easier. Even though this might seem like a 21st century fad, IoT is driving business growth in all industries, including HVAC.

Rapid Growth in IoT 

The global building automation and control systems are marketed to grow at a CAGR of 9.52 percent from 2017 to 2021.2 This rapid IoT growth is allowing building owners and managers to proactively manage their facilities with technology that turns electricity, security, lighting, appliances and HVAC activity into data. And the ability to collect and analyze actionable utility insights is driving major savings and efficiencies in commercial buildings.

The latest technology — ultrasonic technology, electromagnetic Induction, vibration analysis and infrared thermography — anticipates equipment failures in real-time. This allows building owners and facility managers to predict equipment failures before they happen, potentially decreasing maintenance costs by up to 25 percent.3 In fact, this predictive maintenance can eliminate approximately 70 percent of unexpected failures and reduce downtime by up to 50 percent. 3

As such, predictive analytics could be the next phase of IoT. To get started, there are three key steps to equipping a building with data-gathering technology and learning to effectively analyze it.

  1. Installing smart technology: Installing smart technology allows data and insights to be collected and evaluated at all times. For HVAC, this technology measures and analyzes how often equipment is running, when a building is occupied and how quickly set points are met. Having a partner that does not believe in the one-size-fits-all approach will help structure a solution that is most appropriate for a building owner’s or manager’s needs and business goals.
  2. Gathering data from key equipment and appliances: Multiple technologies will likely be used to monitor and manage all aspects of a building, not just HVAC. This is known as a connected building — where technologies are integrated to give building owners and managers a big-picture overview to how the building in running and operating. Tracking and collecting this information overtime will develop a baseline performance to compare with when accessing performance and maintenance needs.
  3. Analyzing the data and develop a corrective action plan: Users can view and analyze the data being collected using a visual source such as a dashboard and mobile interfaces. Data visuals can help see performance patterns, so real-time adjustments can be made faster and more effectively. Building managers and owners can do this remotely to make more informed decisions anywhere at any time. Because not every building is the same, the data shown on these visuals can be customized to each user.

Quantifying energy use patterns and mapping performance over time is a move toward predictive analytics. And doing so with a reliable and knowledgeable partner can help you determine which predictive maintenance and visual data approach is best for your building. Trane® offers predictive services along with its smart technology for customers who experience excessive failures and associated costs.

We recently included our predictive service as part of a larger project to reduce operational costs. We partnered with Crosstown Concourse to increase its building’s value. Charged with redesigning its 90-year-old system, we optimized Crosstown Concourse’s HVAC system. In the end, Crosstown Concourse could start collecting data, helping identify how its building consumes energy, diagnose equipment performance and meet its energy reduction goals.

A partner like Trane can determine what data should be analyzed based on a building’s needs and function. A partner also can determine when predictive maintenance is a must and how to start developing a performance pattern. IoT will be around for the long haul, so find your source to smart technology and consider which data you need to track now to be set up for the future.