Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
EMAIL INTERVIEW – Ken Sinclair and Mike Garceau
Sinclair: How is the role of the facility manager changing?
Historically, facility managers spent the majority of their time responding to equipment malfunctions, system-related issues and occupant comfort complaints. New technology has taken a lot of this reactive work off of their shoulders by providing increased data connectivity, analysis and enhanced automation. This frees up more time, allowing for more proactive work.
As Operations Technology (OT) becomes more common in building operations, the responsibilities of facility management and IT are blurring. There has traditionally been a very clear distinction and separation of duties between facility management and IT, but with the introduction of IP controllers, that’s changing. Some aspects of IT are falling on facility management staff and vice versa. Now facility management gets better monitoring and optimization of uptimes which are standard in IT networks, and IT has access to additional building data that they can utilize to improve enterprise networks.
Sinclair: What is driving this change?
The innovation of new building management tools – such as Honeywell’s CIPer™ Model 30 – are designed to address challenges faced by facility managers and, subsequently, are changing the nature of their role.
CIPer 30 is more than just a building controller – it’s a network appliance. It has the capability of connecting disparate peripheral device information and moving the data in a rapid and secure manner to precisely where it needs to be. Most of the controllers in building systems today communicate at 19 kbaud per second, but our new CIPer Model 30 Controller is 1000 times faster.
The safety, precision and speed of data transmission allow facility managers to go far beyond what they can do with legacy products and the bulk of disparate systems in buildings today. Real-time analytics and improved connectivity enable facility managers to deliver more value to the building owner and occupants by bringing more assets – like surveillance video and real-time energy consumption and equipment health – into the controller system. This is expanding and changing the abilities and expectations of the facility manager role.
Sinclair: How are facility managers responding to the new technology and changing nature of the job?
Overall, facility managers feel empowered by new technology, like CIPer 30. It gives them more time to focus on preventing and preparing for issues, instead of responding to them.
Still, new technology can be intimidating at first. As they see how it improves their day-to-day job and provides sustained cost savings results, they are convinced. For example, once a facility manager sees that maintenance and repair can be completed in one visit – because the engineer knew what the problem was and what tools or parts to bring before arriving on-site – they recognize how much time was saved.
As the next generation workforce continues to enter the field, they’ll also bring a new way of working with this kind of technology and connectivity. For them, it is instinctive.
Sinclair: How is security addressed?
The data collected by CIPer 30 is stored locally on the device itself. To access the data and controls, one must be on-premise and have an approved user ID and protected password. Each user has administrative rights or view-only rights based on Role-Based Access Control settings.
The data that is moving from controller to controller to supervisor within a system is fully encrypted. Even if a hacker or disgruntled employee attempted to gain access to the controller or data, they could not decipher it without a key.
Sinclair: How does this technology impact the end-user, building occupants?
With advanced iterative technology like CIPer Model 30, overall occupant comfort will improve. They will have more transparency and control, with the ability to operate wall displays that can change temperature, lighting, etc., giving them greater control over their work environment.
The system notifies facility management when a building product is not operating properly or efficiently or is predicted to fail prematurely. For example, the system will alert facility management that an air or water filter needs to be replaced in advance of becoming clogged. This allows facility management to order a new filter before disruption to occupants occurs, and energy efficiency drops resulting, in additional operating costs.
Sinclair: What does the future of facility management look like?
Going forward, the building controller will become more important, and building operations will become smarter. More artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities will be incorporated into building products, like sensors and peripheral devices. More in-depth data will be captured, and this data will be transmitted and acted upon more quickly. Auto-tuning and self-healing network capabilities will improve, and buildings will operate closer to maximum efficiency to reduce operational cost.
As more tedious tasks are managed automatically, the role of the facility manager will continue to evolve. They will serve as advisors that interpret building data analytics and provide recommendations on how to further increase efficiencies, cut costs, and develop a more comfortable, safe experience for occupants.
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