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Building efficiency: the invisible becomes visible

South Africa


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By Anoop Hariparsad, offer and channel marketing manager: Digital Energy at Schneider Electric.

Many commercial and industrial facilities were built in an era when technology was an afterthought. This is partly because of the lack of truly feasible technology options that could make the management of buildings simpler and, importantly, more efficient.

Fast-forward 40 years and the industry now features advanced solutions that, short of running a building on autopilot, offer efficient, optimised and sustainable solutions that catapult facilities into a new era of sophistication.

And short of being a medieval castle, the good news is a lot of buildings can be modernised to benefit from this new and exciting age in efficiency and optimisation.

At Schneider Electric, our methodology when approaching buildings (old or new) is to measure, analyse and then put systems in place to control. In the case of an older building, it is important to measure how it is using its energy; is this done in an efficient manner, and how can technology help?

Once an organisation understands where it is and where it wants to go, it needs to identify the solutions to achieve its goals, and a fundamental part of this journey is employing a digital strategy.

With digital innovation, the invisible suddenly becomes visible. Digital technologies such as metering and monitoring, coupled with smart devices and analytics software, allow insight into how a building operates. Moreover, it provides an understanding of the building’s energy and operational efficiency, which in turn enables a service provider to identify areas where power can be saved and untapped areas utilised.

Making the most of your digital strategy

In a digitalised building, all the vital cogs start running continuously to provide information on the data required to obtain operational insight. Now that you have all the data, what are the next step?

It starts with analysis. Here, service providers take advantage of best-in-class OT and IT solutions to unlock a building’s performance so you can maintain your facilities remotely and proactively. With its key operational insights, you can reduce energy use, unscheduled maintenance and extend the life of your assets to save time and money, which all contribute to the efficiency of your building.

A building management system (BMS) realises a digitally connected building which offers 24/7 support for:

• Air conditioning, heating, ventilating, lighting.

• Access control and control devices such as valves, actuators, sensors and meters.

• Energy management and building operating systems.

Moreover, an open BMS system integrates multiple systems for centralised, real-time control and management across one-to-many enterprise buildings and can help you understand and monitor your facility’s energy usage. Today, there are sophisticated solutions such as Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Building Advisor, which optimises building operations by constantly monitoring systems and identifying faults to proactively address issues and improve efficiencies. Using AI algorithms and analytics further allows you to understand the building’s energy use and helps you transition from a reactive operating model to a more effective preventive mindset.

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