Energy solution providers are racing to take advantage of the development of the Internet of Things to create solutions for businesses and consumers to manage energy use and increase energy efficiency, according to Schneider Electric.

The company is applying this focus particularly in the area of facilities management. To improve outcomes, it has looked at how clients can navigate the ever-changing range of technologies.

One program. One network. Endless opportunities

To help clients connect with the right experts within the growing and rapidly evolving technology and energy marketplace, the company has launched its EcoXpert Partner Program.

The program is a partnership between Schneider Electric and leading system integrators, specifiers and other technology providers. The goal of the program is to drive business value for shared customers worldwide.

Companies that are part of the EcoXpert program can leverage the shared knowledge of Schneider Electric’s worldwide energy management and building optimisation professionals. In turn, the company gains a dedicated group of skilled partners that share a similar goal of pioneering the future of intelligent buildings and Internet of Things.

Connecting every aspect of building operations

In the business-as-usual model, the complex network of systems that make up a building is not always fully interconnected. Each system, including HVAC, interior lighting, exterior lighting, elevators and plug loads, have each had different controls and an inability to adjust, in real-time, to optimise performance for energy and operational efficiency while still maintaining occupant comfort.

The company aims to interconnect and integrate all building systems from the wall plug to electrical infrastructure and critical equipment in order to enable two-way communication that can result in increased operational efficiency. To achieve this, more IoT technologies are being employed.

Increasing data capture, management and analysis capabilities

As the saying goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

This has been recognised by global energy managers according to the Verdantix Global Energy Leaders Survey 2015: Budgets And Priorities, which showed that 84 per cent of energy managers rank improving processes for data capture, analysis and reporting as either “very important” or “important” for their firms.

Schneider Electric is responding to this demand by investing in embedding communications technology in its products to deliver increased connectivity among critical building systems including uninterrupted power systems, energy storage, circuit breakers, electrical panels and switchgear equipment.

How new technology applications can optimise facility management

The company’s recent technological innovations aim to equip FMs with the tools to use a data-driven analysis to inform building operational decisions.

This can include sophisticated analytics that can help prevent equipment downtime, diagnose equipment faults remotely and increase the reliability of building systems.

The company is continuing to invest in further developments, including pursuing the utilisation of augmented and virtual reality to increase the efficiency of equipment diagnosis.

The overall vision is to provide maintenance teams with systems that help them pinpoint on-site equipment faults faster and understand the options available to address them. This can have bottom-line benefits of reducing costs associated with maintenance delays, as well as improving the reliability of building systems and lowering safety risks to the facilities engineers.

Cloud-based solution to give FMs a broader partnership ecosystem

Schneider Electric has also developed a new cloud-based solution and managed services offering, Facility Insights, that allows facility managers and building owners to analyse and manage their facility’s data. It also provides a gateway for working with the EcoXperts network.

Facility Insights has been designed to improve operational efficiency throughout the entire building lifecycle. Aspects it can assist with include optimising energy consumption and spending to help occupants manage operational expenditure.

The system uses digital dashboards that can display energy usage for specific building areas, generate reports, and provide detailed analysis of building performance including recommendations on ways to improve energy usage.

Three levels of service are available, including “View”, which provides simple dashboards and monthly performance reports, and “Improve”, which gives monthly performance reports and details action items and plans for enhancing maintenance and energy management.

The Australian-specific offering also incorporates a NABERS widget that tracks a building’s performance and gives an indication of its expected NABERS rating.

This will have applications also for the residential property sector following the decision by the COAG Energy Council to fund the development of a NABERS tool for residential apartments.

The tool will measure the energy performance of common and base building services, including heating, ventilation and airconditioning systems, pool pumps, common area lighting and hot water systems. Apartment buildings will be scored from one star to six stars. A pilot of the tool is expected to be released in 2017.

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  1. As an owner of a Facility Management company with a background in Building Automation (including BMS with Schneider under a former name)I can certainly vouch for the practicality of whats on offer here.
    As an FM, we know there is a point where the return on investment can reach critical saturation, especially on the smaller buildings, say 20 levels or less.
    That said, bringing the implementation cost down offers these smaller buildings greater opportunity to improve overall performance, but the Facility Management crew must be able to interpret, and use the information on a daily basis, reading and understanding the data needs to be a part of the building manager or facility manager’s routine.
    Making a minor change in the BMS can have a catastrophic consequence elsewhere in the building that is not entirely obvious at first, consequently increasing costs and decreasing tenant satisfaction (and retention).
    Without regular and consistent use of the system, opportunities for improvement of operations can slip by, consequently the Landlord misses out on the ROI.
    FM’s cannot be “complacent”, (and there is a few out there) the software needs to be “driven” and Optimized to get the best results. This is best managed by the person which knows the building intimately, the building manager or their boss, the FM.