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Computer-Aided Facility Management: How IoT Enables Smart Spaces

Learn how IoT breakthroughs assist businesses in saving on energy resources and making their spaces smarter and more efficient

August 15, 2019

6 mins read

Commercial spaces vary in nature but have one thing in common: they consume energy – a lot of it. Nearly 30% of energy used by commercial buildings is wasted through inefficient processes and management. Knowing this, businesses take measures to reduce energy consumption in their facilities. The most cost-effective way to do so is to implement emerging technologies such as IoT, AI, and advanced analytics.

The impact of technology on space management

With technology, the space management sector has a significant opportunity to conserve energy. More and more commercial property owners are trying to tackle the challenge of energy mismatching. They’re putting a lot of effort into creating energy-efficient buildings, tuning warehouses, and even accommodating whole cities to the needs of urban living. The role of IoT in this context can’t be denied. IoT brings space management to a new level of sustainability and efficiency, leveraging technology in many ways.
Computer-Aided Facility Management: How IoT Enables Smart Spaces
Source: McKinsey

Smart cities

In a general sense, smart cities are also considered spaces. Gartner researchers anticipate that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. This poses a considerable challenge as to how resources should be optimized. To serve the growing appeal, municipalities seek new ways to employ Internet of Things technologies. According to IoT Innovation, there are three primary applications of IoT for smart cities.

  1. More balanced water supply
  2. Smart meters allow officials to detect water leaks faster and respond earlier. As a result, municipalities lose less money due to inefficiencies. IoT data integration systems also cut time spent on entering and analyzing information. On top of that, smart water meters provide residents with real-time information about their water consumption.

  3. Fewer traffic jams
  4. Smart traffic signals can better tailor their timing to the needs of people who commute to work. Data aggregated from cameras, smartphones, and road sensors can be used to spot traffic incidents and direct drivers to alternate routes.

  5. More reliable public transportation
  6. Connected devices can make public transportation more reliable. Data from various sensors can assist transit businesses in implementing contingency plans and give people information about when transport will arrive.

Plus, IoT may contribute to public safety in towns and cities by detecting safety concerns. Cameras that monitor traffic can serve various purposes.

Intelligent warehouses

At first glance, it may seem that warehouses have nothing to do with technology. But they do. The function of warehouses today is not only to store inventory. Warehouses are smart hubs that contribute to the speed and efficiency of the entire supply chain. This wouldn’t be possible without the application of IoT devices: wearables, sensors, and other smart equipment.
Computer-Aided Facility Management: How IoT Enables Smart Spaces

When asked about the critical components of smart warehouses and the greatest areas for growth, manufacturers refer to automated storage and retrieval systems, warehouse control system software, and warehouse execution systems, according to Samsung Insights.

In simpler terms, there are four ways that IoT assists in warehouse and logistics management. First, it’s the best way to maintain end-to-end inventory tracking and never lose sight of inventory when it moves from point A to point B. The volume of items shipped is on track to grow immensely, as stated in the Warehousing 2020 report, and tracking will be used more often. Second, warehouses apply smart glasses for vision picking to allow employees to work hands-free and improve productivity. Third, IoT provides insights and data analytics that help managers make tactical decisions about cumbersome warehousing operations.

Energy-efficient buildings

IoT innovation hasn’t passed domestic and commercial buildings by either, as they consume a significant portion of energy. While residential buildings may account for nearly 40% of energy consumption, commercial buildings – retail stores, shopping malls, hotels, hospitals, etc. – account for 30% according to Research and Markets.

In an interview with Smart Building Magazine, Karl Walker, the marketing development manager for Beckhoff, says that IoT plays a significant part in smart building automation and control. In fact, IoT technology is already making it easier for buildings to consume less energy.

Smart building energy management systems are equipped with IoT devices that analyze how heating, cooling, and lighting work. This data gets transmitted in real time to one central application that highlights major energy drifts. This way, staff can correct define and eliminate energy waste.

What is a building energy management system (BEMS) and how does it work?

When buildings are not properly maintained, their energy efficiency declines by as much as 8% every year according to a study by OakTrust. So there’s a pressing need to amend the use of energy.

A building energy management system (BEMS) is specialized software that continually monitors and analyzes a building’s energy use. Its objective is to spot energy drifts so they can be repaired quickly and efficiently. It may become common practice to use a BEMS in manufacturing buildings, public institutions, and private homes, but they are more recommended for use in spaces that are the least stable and require more energy.
Computer-Aided Facility Management: How IoT Enables Smart Spaces
Source: Senseware

Computer-Aided Facility Management: How IoT Enables Smart Spaces
You can connect BEMS to a building’s existing infrastructure or current building software (if such exists). In the first case, the BEMS will become an addition to physical systems that are present in nearly every building, such as heating, cooling, and lighting. In the second, connecting to building automation systems, a BEMS will collect data from all systems to give a full and detailed description of energy use. On top of that, the best building energy management systems combine this information with utility billing, electrical grid, and weather data to provide a more thorough view.

There are many benefits to using a BEMS. But mainly, an efficient BEMS helps building owners spend less on energy they don’t use and transform buildings into sustainable spaces.

Applying AI to make smart buildings smarter

At its core, IoT doesn’t provide any intelligence. It simply enables things to communicate with each other. This is where AI can come in handy, helping businesses not only collect data from their facilities but turn it into actionable insights. Generally, there are three ways AI can be used to infuse intelligence into spaces:

Predict energy use based on a variety of factors
Energy management platforms powered by artificial intelligence can track temperatures and predict when it’s best to precool a building or decrease cooling depending on when energy prices are highest. The combination of IoT and AI is perfect for taking a proactive approach to consuming energy.

Detect and prevent faults
Even though human intuition and expertise are still needed, AI can identify anomalies and inconsistencies in data that aren’t noticeable to the human eye. While Internet of Things devices only look at how things are going, artificial intelligence decides whether that performance is acceptable.

Improve comfort
One of the tasks of AI, as it applies to space management, is to keep temperatures comfortable for building occupants. By analyzing data from sensors, artificial intelligence systems can stabilize room temperatures. Thus, homes, stores, hospitals, and universities become more comfortable and better suit our needs.

Benefits of energy and facility management for businesses

Computer-aided space and facility management has many benefits. Buildings have many systems to be managed, including heating, cooling, lighting, elevators, and fire alarms. Energy management software brings buildings to the next level of efficiency, allowing all of these systems to be tracked and controlled in a single application. As a result, employees will spend less time switching between these systems, leaving less room for error. The other side of the medal is reduced energy use, which results in lower utility bills, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and fewer maintenance needs.

No doubt IoT will only continue to improve and enable smart spaces, so it’s a good idea to keep tabs on emerging technologies. The right software can help us save tons of energy and live more sustainably in fine-tuned and safer buildings.

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