In a world with constrained resources (chiefly time and money), it’s important to have the correct tools and processes in place to identify opportunities that give you the “most bang for your buck”. One of the biggest pieces of value a quality energy management system (EMS) delivers is culling through a sea of data from across your organization to identify exceptions; your positive and negative outliers. I’m going to highlight three areas where EMS-generated exception reports can help quickly spot areas for investigation and achieve a high value return on the deployment of your limited resources.
As a starting place, let’s look at why exception reports are helpful. An EMS will provide a vast amount of data about how your equipment is performing, what condition it is in, how it is being controlled, etc. However, once you have this data, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer volume and need some way to weed through it to get to the most important data points. One strategy for narrowing your focus is to sort the data on a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that is important to your business, such as operating cost per square foot. You can then investigate the best performers to see what can be learned and shared, and look at the worst performers to investigate causes and implement improvements. Another idea is to establish a “redline” for certain metrics, flagging every data point that exceeds that threshold for follow-up. Sorting and filtering based on the right metrics will identify the outliers that can be corrected to achieve big returns. Read on to look at three key EMS exception reports that provide the insight you need for intelligent decision-making.
HVAC Equipment Performance: Prioritize your Maintenance Dollars
An EMS can maximize the benefits of your HVAC repair and maintenance process by providing insight into equipment performance, helping you target the equipment that needs repair most. Here’s how an exception report can help: your EMS reports key metrics that indicate an HVAC unit’s performance, including the delta between return and supply temperature, and quickly identifies outliers that exceed a certain threshold and are therefore worthy of investigation and possibly service. Having these units automatically flagged saves the effort of going through tens, hundreds, or thousands of units’ worth of data just to find the handful that aren’t running well. Now that you have a few units flagged based on poor metrics, an EMS will allow you to dive in to the details to investigate what might be going on and how bad the problem is. With that investigation complete, you can make an educated decision about where to spend your scarce resources and maintenance dollars.
Asset Age and Condition: Make Smarter Replacement Decisions
I’m no longer surprised when I hear from customers that they do not know what equipment is in their facilities and on their roofs, much less what condition it is in. Until very recently, good tools did not exist for this critical need, and decisions about equipment repair and replacement were made with poor data at best. Asset management systems now include tools to quickly record asset information (make, model, age, etc.) and condition, then rank assets on this information, and also keep the data up to date with the tap of a mobile phone button. If you are fortunate enough to have some capital designated to upgrade equipment, wouldn’t it be best to allocate it where you’ll get the biggest return? Knowing which equipment across your fleet is beyond its prime performance and is eating up maintenance and energy dollars is key to making good replacement decisions.
Thermostat Settings: Prevent HVAC Issues
Looking at thermostat set-points across your portfolio can indicate where you might have underperforming equipment and where you need to make adjustments. If you’ve taken the time to develop company governance for set-points, then you’ll certainly want a report that can quickly identify thermostats that deviate from targets. Overridden thermostats might indicate HVAC equipment is underperforming so local teams are adjusting to try to compensate, or it might be a sign of poor behavior that is going to lead to high energy usage and issues such as frozen units that have been forced to run 24/7 due to a low cooling target. Since an improperly set thermostat can actually be the cause of problems, gaining remote visibility and quickly catching bad set-points can save headaches. In other cases, the local team might be adjusting off of corporate governance because of an improperly located remote sensor. If that’s the case, instead of trying to build in an adjustment factor, it’s best to tackle the root cause: a sensor location that is not representative of the actual space temp. Set-point analysis can then prevent an HVAC issue from occurring, eliminate energy waste, and maintain guest comfort.
Exception reports that identify outliers help focus you to areas for improvement, yielding big returns when corrected. Most good energy and asset management systems allow you to run the reports mentioned above. SiteSage, our asset and energy management system, can provide these reports as well as many more. Among the many features of SiteSage is the ability to generate exception reports and provide detail on each identified outlier so you can make better decisions about deploying resources, make the most of every dollar spent, and avoid issues in the first place. In addition, SiteSage Assets includes a scoring system that takes a holistic look at assets and gives customers the information they need to direct equipment replacement efforts.