Schneider Electric's Integrated Building Management Tool


Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Building Advisor uses inputs from building management systems (BMS) and connected devices and applies analytics to make recommendations to technical support staff and management for opportunities in energy, comfort, and maintenance. Building Advisor differs from the company’s Resource Advisor platform, which serves as a repository for water, gas, and electric invoices, thus enabling customers to focus on evaluating metered data. Building Advisor monitors a building’s Building Automation System (BAS) and its connected devices, looking for inconsistencies and opportunities for improvement in energy, comfort, and maintenance. In the past, comparable results were obtained with manual checks and coordination among team members or contractors. Such activities were only conducted periodically and came with labor costs. Building Advisor runs continuously, reporting as often as management likes. The continuous nature of Building Advisor allows teams to monitor the condition and performance of key HVAC parameters and subsequently improves up-time, performance, and energy use; and reduces time spent on preventative maintenance.

The desired outcome was the ability to detect issues more quickly (i.e., a stuck damper or simultaneous heating and cooling). The solution was partnering with Schneider Electric Buildings to develop and implement the data collection and analytics tool. This tool can aggregate data from multiple building management systems. It is currently implemented at four sites and is expanding. Use of the tool enables the Schneider Electric team to reduce maintenance costs, increases comfort, and optimize energy. The fundamental driver of the solution is using analytics to predict and promote early detection of issues and repair them before they become major issues.

The cost of the tool is relative to the size of the building and number of points being monitored. A typical Schneider installation is less than $40,000, with an annual subscription service of less than $15,000. A report of nonconformances is generated each day, and a “bureau” of experts reviews the nonconformances and opportunities monthly in a detailed report. Both reports indicate the priority of the nonconformance, determined by the degree of wasted money and energy, and methods to make improvements. The tool also gives real-time trending data that is invaluable to determining building comfort levels and trends and optimizing set points.

Schneider Electric’s annual goal is a 3.5% improvement in energy intensity. The tool allows the company to “audit” the BMS with confidence and make changes to optimize performance and reduce maintenance time. This confidence allows for experimentation with the systems with fast response times without affecting customers. The work can then be used as a best practice and shared with other facilities (see exhibit 1). 

Exhibit 1. Daily summaries of potential issues and energy impact.

Exhibit 2. Temperature variation across a facility.

Exhibit 2 shows the outside temperature and temperature variation across the space. This is used to quickly identify issues and communicate them to stakeholders

During the peak heating season in January 2018, set points in shipping areas could not be maintained. The facility services provider suggested that the unit was undersized and recommended a replacement. Using the analytics tool, it was determined that the discharge air temperature was low, and the real issue was an internal set point. The root cause was identified, and a technician resolved it in less than one hour. These set points were then checked on all units (see exhibit 3).

Exhibit 3. Troubleshooting.

EcoStruxure Building Advisor, with its real-time trending reports, as well as daily and monthly reports, has changed the way sites maintain their systems and service their customers. It allows sites to be proactive to weather events and optimize responses to issues and opportunities. Preventive maintenance can be reduced as verification of pressure drops, temperatures, and valve positions are continuously monitored, allowing a reduction or elimination of traditional preventative maintenances. EcoStruxure increases the visibility of programming faults and helps address comfort concerns. It also identifies inconsistencies between BMS commands and actual status.

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Using data (or technologies) to track progress

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Case Study