By Michael Skurla
If you are operating or managing automated multi-site facilities, then you know collecting data from all the building systems across your distributed facilities is a challenging necessity. The proliferation of data from IoT devices has offered massive automation opportunities. Harnessing IoT data mining across your portfolio of sites can be a critical success factor for an enterprise. Why? Harnessing data from your IoT devices for actionable analytics will drastically reduce your operational expenses and energy usage and increase facilities’ efficiency.
What in the world is IoT?
The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a wide range of interrelated computing devices–from mechanical and digital machines, to your refrigerator, your thermostat, your phone–that transfer data and information over networks. And they don’t need humans or computers to necessarily arbitrate this information.
IoT proliferation is here to stay and grow. In fact, Business Insider forecasts that by 2025 there will be over 64 billion IoT devices in operation. This includes a multitude of objects and devices from cars (by 2020, 90% of cars will be connected to the Internet) to cellular IoT connectivity which by 2023, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report, will be at 3.5 billion.
IoT products flooding today’s market are confusing. Especially for figuring out the actual application of these technologies and integrating them with existing legacy systems in a building infrastructure. Most commercial facilities and buildings today use a combination of subsystems that operate in autonomous silos. With IoT technology emergence exasperating data collection and monitoring, commercial facility operators and owners can reap greater outcomes by integrating new technological advances, like IoT devices, into their existing systems.
But the benefits can only be leveraged across multiple ecosystems within the infrastructure when buildings and facilities can tap into data from multiple trades. These systems can then work in unison to lower capital expenditures while increasing technological services within a commercial facility. They simplify O+M over the lifecycle of a facility.
Can’t Afford to Ignore IoT Data
The practical definition of IoT in the constructed world defines how a network of sensory players in a building enterprise interact and generate data. Take, for instance, the pivotal role in data collection from building management systems and individual control solutions–from lighting, HVAC, security, etc. All of these are sensory players offering critical data that could be valuable to other trades, as well as offer insight into collective operation if viewed together.
By 2021 the flood of data generated from IoT will reach 850 zettabytes [Source: Cisco]. While IoT connectivity generates data floods, only enterprises using tools to collect, organize, and deliver the data can reap actionable analytics to make sound business decisions.
Missing from legacy Industrial IoT, BMS, SCADA, and monitoring solutions is the capability to collect and normalize data across large geographical footprints in a simple and scalable fashion. This is critical for multi-site commercial facility owners who need to capture untapped IoT and facility data from distributed sites and IoT devices.
IoT Platforms to Rescue
IoT platforms are the information technology market’s solution for collecting diverse data at massive scale. They are simple to install and can extract data from various in-building protocols and subsystems. With a nimble setup and an EDGE appliance wired to a port, IoT platforms offer open communications with a cloud infrastructure, and allow for remote management, provisioning, and monitoring. Facility IT operators save time, money, and effort while gaining efficient, cost-effective operations.
With an IoT platform deployed, commercial building and facilities’ operators:
- Need not rely on costly on-site commissioning of monitoring systems.
- Gain a single pane of glass approach to all subsystems and technology at the edge.
- Can access a single source of truth of data on a portfolio for analytics, alarming, AI, reporting, or custom applications from a cloud location.
With multiple subsystems, and the growing number of IoT sensing devices and other technologies crowding the enterprise infrastructure, facility operators can easily leverage data between diverse systems using an IoT platform. They can eliminate duplications–enable one sensor to provide all the data without separate wiring, programming, and monitoring systems.
Once all the data is collected from multiple sites, and stored in the cloud, facility operators can leverage the data’s value with Micro-service Analytics and visualization engines. These tap organized data-lakes, provided by the IoT platform, transform the data into context-specific outcomes and actionable recommendations to reduce energy use, utilize available real estate space for additional revenues, use traffic patterns for supply chain and more.
Layered on top of the existing and siloed systems, IoT platforms highly enhance the performance competency of the silos. They leverage and store every bit of relevant data from various sources to provide a consolidated “truth” for outcome based analytics tailored to specific business needs.
Think of IoT platforms as lifelines for existing building technologies and business operations. Sources that bring to life facility data for a greater purpose while generating meaningful outcomes beyond just the physical building operations. By aggregating valuable, and previously unavailable information, facility operators can be equipped with analytics and visualization data to better manage multiple sites and increase their bottom line.
Automated, digitized facilities are the present and the future of our facilities’ world. To remain competitively profitable, facility owners and operators can’t afford to lose out on harnessing valuable, critical and actionable data from IoT devices.
Michael C. Skurla is Director of Product Strategy for BitBox USA, which offers a single, simple and secure IoT platform solution for enterprises to collect, organize and deliver distributed data sets from critical infrastructure with a simple-to-deploy Edge appliance with secure cloud access.