Moving to data-driven facility management with analytics

Pictures of equipment are pretty – but you have too many!

by Sky Foundry*–Let’s think about how technology helps us deal with massive amounts of information in our daily life. Netflix uses data analytics to suggest movies you might like based on past history.

Amazon suggests things you might be interested in based on your buying history. Friends and co-workers suggest articles or stories we may be interested in. We subscribe to news feeds that match our interests – all of these are ways we navigate our data-filled world.

While it might be fun to surf what’s available – and we all do from time to time – there is just too much content and not enough time.

So now let’s think about our facilities.

You have a control system. You have graphics of equipment systems.  But there is too much to look at and properly assess just by browsing around. You don’t need to – and can’t afford to – spend your time looking at equipment systems that are functioning properly. What you need is someone to tell you that there is something important that deserves your attention, as if you had an experienced mechanical engineer constantly reviewing the operation of every sensor and every piece of equipment every minute to find issues. But doing this manually is simply not sustainable, scalable or affordable.

Analytics provides the solution

Analytics software acts as an ever-present expert watching the operation of your equipment. Analytics looks for patterns in your operational data to identify issues that you need to be aware of. Some issues may be outright faults, but others are deviations, trends and anomalies – all of which have important implications for your facility – whether financial or affecting occupant satisfaction.

Today’s advanced analytics software not only identifies issues but conveys that information to operators by automatically generating clear understandable views – all without the need to draw or assemble custom graphics. Quite simply, analytics provides operators with augmented intelligence into the operation of their equipment systems and facilities.

The true impact of analytics goes beyond simply finding the things that matter, however. The most benefit comes from integrating the augmented intelligence provided by analytics with operational processes to drive timely and cost-effective action – a concept referred to as “data-drive facilities management.”

The concept of data-driven facilities is to transition from reactive operational processes driven by the alarms and failures, to processes driven by clear, concise, actionable information. We want to be informed by the results of the analytics first and then go to the conventional tools like BAS graphics, alarm lists and others, as appropriate, based on the issues detected. In other words, you want to move from trying to “browse it all” to utilizing augmented intelligence to clearly identify the things that matter. The organizations that benefit the most from applying analytics are the ones that adapt their processes to take advantage of the new capability analytics provides.

So, what we are talking about is a shift – changing how we do things based on the augmented intelligence about our facilities that is provided by analytics. That is where the greatest benefit comes from.

Let’s explore a few examples

What would it take to manually look at your energy consumption and demand, and correlate it with equipment operation to see which equipment is affecting your demand profile and consumption? Could you even do that?

Figure 1 is a good example of something analytics easily does. The view below shows the kW demand at the top, correlated with the operation of related equipment systems. In an easy-to-absorb view, it enables us to quickly see the relationship between equipment operation and our demand. And no, it’s not a custom graphic display assembled with hours of work – it’s a standard analytic function and an automatically generated “view.”

(click to enlarge) Figure 1. This shows the relationship between equipment operation and demand.

Clearly presenting equipment faults and improper operation

One of the key benefits of analytics is to automatically process rules and algorithms on operational data to detect issues in the performance of equipment systems. Analytics easily detects issues such as:

  • simultaneous heating and cooling
  • short cycling
  • damper stuck open or closed
  • equipment running outside of occupancy.

The analytics software acts as the ever-present expert watching the operation of your systems and then automatically generates clear, informative views to show operators detected issues. In the example below (Figure 2) we see a summary for all issues detected across a portfolio of buildings over a week.

(click to enlarge) Figure 2. This auto-generated view shows the issues detected organized by site name, then issue and shows duration, cost and equipment involved. With another click operators can drill down to all of the details for the affected equipment.

See more examples of the range of automatically generated Apps and Views that SkySpark provides here: Analytics Software for a World of Smart Devices, or visit SkyFoundry to learn more about SkySpark and its application across facilities of different types.  

You can’t browse it all

Let’s think about this as a comparison. Let’s say I come into your office and you are head is down looking at your computer screen. I ask . . .

Me: “Hey, what are you doing?”

You: “I’m busy, don’t bother me.”

Me: “But what are you doing?”

You: “I am looking at all of my equipment systems to see if everything is running OK.”

Me: “Why doesn’t the computer do that for you and only tell you when you have issues?”

You: “Hmmm? I don’t know. Can it do that?”

Me: “YES! – That’s what analytics do for you.”

While we often think about energy savings as the primary benefit of analytics, companies that take full advantage of analytics to change their operational and Maintenance and Repair processes (MRO) see savings in MRO costs that can equal energy savings. Adapting our organizations to embrace data to change how facilities are managed versus living by a seat-of-the-pants approach based on tribal knowledge, is the true end goal.

To learn more about how you can get started with analytics in your facilities, download this SkyFoundry White Paper “Information Alchemy – Turning Operational Data Into Value.”

About SkyFoundry

SkyFoundry’s software solutions help clients derive value from their investments in smart systems. Our SkySpark analytics platform automatically analyzes data from automation and control systems, metering systems, sensors and other smart devices to identify issues, patterns, deviations, faults and opportunities for operational improvements and cost reduction. SkySpark helps facility owners and operators “find what matters” in the vast amount of data produced by today’s smart systems.

Contact us at, or visit us to request a detailed demonstration.

* This article is written by SkyFoundry; FMLink is not responsible for the accuracy of its content. Should anyone wish to contact FMLink regarding any article, please e-mail FMLink at Contact information for each organization is provided inside each paper and in the Contact All Providers section under ARTICLES.