How real-time data is helping our buildings run better

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The worldwide outbreak of coronavirus has accelerated the need for remote monitoring systems that minimise intervention, reduce costs and ultimately enable building services installers and FMs to do their jobs better in a safer environment.  Steven Booth, Managing Director at Guardian Water Treatment, looks at how real-time data is helping our buildings run better, while supporting a move off-site.

The coronavirus pandemic has irrevocably changed the world as we know it.  From the time we spend with our relatives and friends, to business operations and working practices, the virus has shone a light on the things that matter and highlighted those that really don’t.

For most people, the restrictions to our personal lives have been a bitter pill to swallow, leaving us unable to visit poorly relatives, travel to see loved ones or provide adequate care for those in need.  In the business environment, however, while times have been extremely tough across the board, in some quarters there are definitely positives to take from this dramatic change in circumstances.

Business structures have been overhauled and working practices transformed in response to the virus; changes that would have taken years to implement have been made in a matter of weeks.  In many cases, rather than a complete overhaul, the virus has simply forced businesses further along their existing trajectory– towards more flexible and efficient working with more reliance on remote technology.

Cut out the middleman

Over the past decade, Building Management Systems (BMS) have given more control to facilities managers and owners, improving the efficiency and resilience of valuable building services and saving time and money on repairs.

By contrast, closed circuit water systems – the arteries and veins of a HVACR system – have been left somewhat behind, with many still relying on sampling as a means of identifying and analysing problems within the system.

This approach is limited for several reasons: From taking the sample to laboratory testing and analysis by a consultant, results can take days, if not weeks to return and all the while, the FM is left in the dark.

Remote water system monitoring is imminently more accurate and instantaneous, ensuring changes in parameters which could lead to corrosion – such as dissolved oxygen (DO) levels, pressure and corrosion rates – are quickly identified and acted upon.

Crucially, where reducing unnecessary site visits is the aim, the health of a water system can be viewed from afar, with site visits only required when things change. This means routine maintenance can be reduced.

Supporting a move off-site

As the pandemic continues, the physical presence of humans is something that we must seek to minimise in the workplace where possible.  Remote working has become the norm for many sectors, with businesses breaking down cultural barriers and making use of existing technology to create a safer working environment.

We use Hevasure’s innovative remote monitoring solution to continuously monitor the condition of closed-circuit water systems, which apart from reducing the need for operatives on site, also prevents system breakdown. Small changes in condition are flagged and can be acted upon before things go too far, potentially saving FMs and building owners millions by avoiding the sometimes devastating effects of downtime.

By having access to real-time data responsible parties are given a true and accurate picture of a system at any given time.

Lockdown and beyond

Throughout lockdown, this level of off-site management was invaluable. The Hevasure dashboard can be logged into from any internet enabled device – perfect for home working. An email or SMS text alert is sent out if any critical levels are exceeded so swift action can be taken.  This constant stream of real-time data is vital, particularly during times of reduced operational capacity.

The latest technological innovations are improving the resilience and efficiency of our buildings, ensuring they are sustainable and flexible enough to meet the challenges and threats of the future. Hopefully, a positive we can take from the pandemic is a faster move towards these more effective ways of working.

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