Preventative maintenance: IBM and Johnson Controls harness real-time data
The global alliance combines facilities management (FM) systems with information technologies (IT) to create a web-based tool that provides insight of potential problems.
Why was the tool initiated?
In February 2011 during a bitterly cold winter, a vigilant Johnson Controls Global WorkPlace Solutions (GWS) team member noticed a spike in energy consumption at Johnson Controls’ main data center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Further investigation identified a problem with the condensing system. Though fixed quickly, the incident got the team thinking about the value of real-time data and the potential it had to improve building performance.
Captured data (i.e. consumption, temperature, humidity, carbon emission data etc.) has the potential to be automatically analyzed in real-time. These metrics could then be used to flag discrepancies to FM teams to investigate and resolve, long before an issue could affect business operations.
Richard Mueller, Manager, Enterprise Data Centers, Johnson Controls, said: “Many data centers manually measure temperatures and air velocity, but only on a quarterly basis. The data can be 90 days old, making it difficult to identify and resolve problems in a timely manner. This delays equipment optimization, wastes energy and money, and puts a critical environment at unnecessary and preventable risk.”
How was the solution developed?
Johnson Controls partnered with IBM to develop a web-based solution to capture real-time building data. The tool collects information from multiple sources within Johnson Controls’ building management systems and facility equipment, such as air handling units, chillers, pumps and computer room air conditioners.
Advanced analytics integrate these metrics with optimization software to record and benchmark actual equipment performance, pinpointing any deviations as they occur – and well before any compromise to data center uptime.
What are the biggest benefits of the tool?
- Simplifies and automates the FM process:
The tool consolidates a lot of disparate facility data and presents it as an easy-to-read dashboard. Should a change in average metrics be detected, a service request is automatically generated and the FM team alerted. Each request provides the technician with the detail of the malfunction, the maintenance history of the equipment and any warranty information – everything required to enable preventive maintenance. Work orders are prioritized according to the severity of the problem and the impact on power consumption and the building occupants
- Reduces costs and enhances efficiency:
It enables reduced power consumption and risk of energy-related disruption to critical data centers. Asset performance is also closely monitored. Any deviation from program is quickly addressed, mitigating risk of equipment breakdown. A rise in temperature is, for example, spotted long before critical data center equipment is affected
- Improves equipment utilization:
For example, translating temperature data into a thermal map also identifies hot and cold spots. This, in turn, allows the air cooling to be fine tuned and governs the best place to put equipment
- Global reach:
Being a web-based tool, it gives remote access to any facility anywhere in the world
“The success of this energy management project exemplifies IBM’s smarter planet strategy. It demonstrates how IT can be used to drive efficiencies in a critical environment – how it can automatically alert FM staff to emerging issues and trigger the right action to stop equipment breakdown. And, being a web-based tool, it gives remote access to any facility anywhere in the world. This makes it ideal for corporate portfolios and campuses comprising many buildings.” David Bartlett, Vice President Industry Solutions, IBM