Sustaining a building’s performance over the long term is key to profitability. Well-maintained buildings contribute to organizational productivity, ensure the continued functionality of necessary equipment, and increase net income by ensuring operational efficiency. But the cost of running a building is constantly increasing, making it an ongoing challenge to balance facility maintenance costs with building needs. Where traditional cost-saving strategies once had a measurable effect, today those methods are falling short.
One of the more innovative ways building managers are reducing costs is through technology. The Internet of Things (IoT)—now emerging as a valuable tool for maintenance programs—is capable of generating an abundance of building data that can be used to better manage maintenance activities and save money. Below are four strategies for reducing maintenance costs using the data generated by advanced (and cost-effective) IoT solutions.
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4 Strategies For Reducing Maintenance Costs Using The IoT
1. Practice predictive maintenance for your most expensive and/or critical equipment.
Collecting data continuously on your critical equipment enables a predictive maintenance approach, as opposed to reactive or preventive maintenance, both of which are more costly strategies.Predictive maintenance involves pinpointing when a piece of equipment is likely to fail and addressing it before it happens. Click To Tweet
Predictive maintenance involves pinpointing when a piece of equipment is likely to fail and addressing it before it happens. It helps you plan maintenance tasks based on knowledge about overall equipment health and expected performance—knowledge that comes through the gathering and analysis of operational data:
- Sensors attached to your machines and equipment monitor and collect a broad range of real-time operational data on everything from vibrations, sights, and sounds to temperatures and power consumption.
- With the help of machine learning and algorithms, this data can be mined and patterns identified. This produces valuable insights about aberrant performance that could indicate the likelihood of an imminent breakdown.
One pharmaceutical manufacturer installed vibration sensors on pumps, motors, and fans, and a range of other sensors on steam traps, filters, and HVAC ducts. The results were:
- Improved equipment reliability, with 31 problems uncovered within the first two months
- Reduced downtime, from 29% to 9%
- Increased intervals for preventive maintenance by 2X
This pharmaceutical site achieved zero downtime in the facility for the first half of 2019 (compared to four downtime events the previous year). The new maintenance strategy also extended bearing and belt failure times to once every six months, as opposed to a previous time of 48 days.
Predictive maintenance is an improvement over traditional preventative maintenance approaches because it helps prevent failures in a timely manner; allows you to prioritize work to address only necessary maintenance and repairs; and may even extend the life of your equipment.
2. Monitor your building’s power quality.
Power quality is an overarching term that refers to the characteristics of power supply that enable electrical equipment to work properly.
As you might imagine, power quality monitoring is exactly what it sounds like—measuring the power quality of your building using IoT sensors. Low power quality means your building is using electrical power inefficiently. That leads to two problems: 1) It could cause overheating and premature failure of equipment. 2) Most utility companies charge an additional fee to facilities that fail to meet a certain power quality. If you’re unaware of your building’s power quality, it’s possible you’re paying more for electricity than you need to.
3. Use personnel more strategically.
Facilities teams that use the IoT can reduce the hidden costs associated with traditional maintenance strategies. Manual monitoring of building systems on a regular, predetermined schedule takes time—time that’s better spent on actual repair work or upkeep.
IoT sensors that automatically collect data on building systems are a more efficient way of monitoring because they don’t require people to be present. Instead, they capture data about your buildings remotely and transmit it over the network and into the cloud, where your team can access it anytime. Plus, your IoT system is gathering and sharing data continuously as opposed to periodically, providing more data and thus better insights. The end result is a well-informed team, doing exactly what needs to be done—and delivering more value consistently.
4. Target problem areas strategically.
Most building managers could say how much they spend annually on maintenance and utility costs. However, few have an in-depth understanding of how their buildings operate on a daily basis: How much water is used daily? How much power are individual pieces of equipment drawing? The more detailed your operational data, the easier it is to see—and address—the anomalies.
Case in point: One of our clients, the owner of several indoor malls, needed to know why one of its malls had higher water bills than the rest. Taking advantage of the detailed data-collection capability of the IoT, we were able to determine how, when, and where water was being consumed, down to 15-minute intervals. The data soon revealed that one fast-food restaurant’s water-cooled refrigeration unit was continuously circulating water unnecessarily, wasting tens of thousands of gallons daily. The faulty thermostat was fixed quickly, resulting in an estimated annual savings of more than $117,000.
Need an IoT partner who can help you save?
Having an in-depth understanding of your building is key to reducing facility maintenance costs—and it all starts with the IoT. If you’re looking for a partner who can advise you on IoT maintenance monitoring, talk to us at Iota.
Our line of IoT sensors enables you to remotely monitor your equipment, providing the precise measurements necessary for implementing the above operational cost reduction strategies. We also offer a subscription-based service of predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms designed to help you optimize equipment performance through fault and anomaly detection. Learn how we can help you get the information you need from all your important assets—contact us today.