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Maximize Your Savings with Fault Detection and Diagnostics
Author: Melissa Topp, ICONICS

Residential and commercial buildings account for almost 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption and carbon emissions. Given the complexity of today's modern lighting and mechanical systems, there is often a significant gap between the design specification and the actual operational performance of buildings. For larger buildings or campuses that contain central plants, equipment such as boilers or chillers are routinely maintained, but the smaller, more widespread equipment, such as VAV terminal units, are not. It is simply not cost-effective to regularly test, for instance, all the air handling equipment in large buildings and real estate portfolios.

This is the primary reason why fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) has become such a highly sought after technology in recent years.  FDD is the process of incorporating algorithms that weigh the probability of faults and advise management, operators and maintenance personnel of actions to prevent equipment failures or excessive use of energy. When equipment failures occur, advanced software technology provides automatic guidance to a list of causes sorted by probability, resulting in reduced downtime and lower costs to diagnose and repair. Automated continuous commissioning, which optimizes the performance of all building systems, including mechanical systems, control systems, and electrical systems, is what most FDD solution providers claim to be able to achieve. And yet, companies still struggle to meet their savings targets and carbon reduction goals. Why is that exactly?

In a large portfolio, using a traditional retro-commissioning approach, the operations and maintenance team might get around to re-commissioning a building once every five years -- but as soon as they leave the building, it begins to degrade again. Maintenance technicians are lucky to get to five percent of their equipment per year, and they're constantly putting out fires in between. With a best-in-class FDD solution, users can cast a net for faults on a continuous basis for visibility into ALL of their equipment, and make informed decisions on where to spend their resources based on cost, priority, and other factors aligned with their business needs.

FDD has three main components: flexible/customizable rules for detecting the faults, dynamic cost calculations to help prioritize those faults, and a visual tool that suggests probable causes to diagnose and repair those faults quickly and efficiently. When combined in a solution like Facility AnalytiX®, these three fundamental components pave the way to automated continuous commissioning, streamlining building operations.

In addition to fault detection and diagnostics, energy savings can be maximized by following a few steps when transitioning from retro-commissioning to continuous commissioning:

1.  Adopt a platform that supports open integration and industry standard connectivity.
The first step, and the foundation of any FDD solution, is to build on top of an open integration platform. By adopting a solution with connectivity via certified BACnet and OPC interfaces, as well as Modbus, JCI N1, SNMP and more, facility managers can get to any control system and integrate with any piece of equipment across their entire portfolio.

2.  Demand an extensive library of fault rules with the flexibility to easily customize and extend that library. 
Most FDD solutions come with a library of fault rules to help get users up and running in less time, but many of those solutions are hard-coded or require an engineer to make any necessary modifications. Facility AnalytiX comes with more than 300 tested and preconfigured fault rules for popular building automation equipment, and allows users to easily customize those rules or add their own using an intuitive point-and-click rules editor.

3. Leverage cost calculations to prioritize faults.
Customers are looking for the flexibility to rank faults based on priorities and cost calculations to drive their work stream processes. Where are the greatest cost savings potentials, and how should companies visualize their big data so that facility managers can take advantage of those savings from their mobile devices?  ICONICS is able to tie these processes all together into a complete solution, without sacrificing security, flexibility, or ease of use.

4. Deliver role-based, contextualized information on Any Glass, Anytime™.
Facility managers and real estate directors struggle with no single view of their facility or campus. And without the ability to correlate data, they’re unable to recognize patterns or trends that are wasting millions of dollars in energy costs. Tying the data together into one situational awareness dashboard, also known as an enterprise energy management system, allows you to take advantage of the savings potential from those faults, while incorporating things such as HVAC graphics, command and control capabilities, and integration with work order management systems. Facility AnalytiX spans across all these areas.

Field service technicians, maintenance operators, or anyone who’s constantly on the go, should also seek solutions that deliver a consistent user experience on any type of device. ICONICS’ MobileHMI™ application runs on desktops, Web browsers, tablets and phones, providing secure data access, anytime and on any device.

5. On premises or in the cloud? Consider a hybrid approach – The best of both worlds.
Keep in mind that when it comes to deployment, you DO have a choice! It has become increasingly more important to address the topic of security. Solutions must be IT-friendly and, in the case of cloud deployments, you also have to take into account questions such as, “Who owns the data?” and “Where is it stored?”  For this reason, leading edge companies have adopted a hybrid approach, emphasizing the importance of choosing a vendor that offers both cloud-based and on premises deployments. A traditional client-server architecture allows for additional flexibility within the walls of the corporate network. However, if you have clients that need access to the data via the Internet, ICONICS’ Cloud Connector and Hyper Historian™ are the perfect fit.

The more flexible and customizable the solution is, the more savings opportunities you will be able to uncover, now and into the future.


ICONICS is an independent software provider of award-winning, real-time visualization, energy management and FDD solutions, both on premises, and in the cloud. They were recently named Microsoft’s 2014 Public Sector CityNext Partner of the Year, which recognizes innovation and success at providing software solutions that help customers reduce consumption and environmental impact. With more than 28 years of industry experience, ICONICS has achieved the highest levels of BACnet and OPC certification, enabling integration with any equipment and providing a truly vendor neutral solution.

ICONICS software operates more than 45,000 buildings today, including many of the largest buildings and real estate portfolios.  For more information, please check out our website at www.iconics.com/fdd.

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2014 Summit Highlights: Session D2 - Technology and Facility Management: Driving Efficiency and Productivity Gains

Technology is the key to efficient buildings – and today's technologies are producing staggering results. By integrating systems and installing the right software, building operators can connect thousands of building sensors that track the performance of mechanical systems, such as heaters, air conditioners, chillers, fans, and lights – harvesting millions of critical data points. That data provides deep insights into operations, enables better diagnostics, and allows for far more intelligent decision making. Hear how Microsoft and Hilton are saving millions of dollars in maintenance and utility costs through the use of advanced technology. View Video

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About Our Sponsor: ICONICS is an award-winning independent software provider of Web-enabled, BACnet-based Visualization, Energy Management and Building Automation software for Microsoft Windows operating systems that leverages open standards to integrate, operate and optimize building operations, from any device, anytime, anywhere. ICONICS is also proud to announce its recent BACnet certification and was recognized as the 2014 Microsoft CityNext Partner of the Year for its innovation and success at providing software solutions that help customers reduce consumption and environmental impact.

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