Features, Insight, Opinion

ABB’s MEA MD on Smart Building Management

By Loay Dajani, Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, ABB

Thomas Edison is known to have said “The value of an idea lies in the using of it” This rings true as we discuss the value that digital insight can bring to asset and operational strategy across all industries and sectors deploying smart buildings.

This gets to something crucial about asset management and maintenance. It’s not “the more data we have, the better.” It’s how operational managers leverage digital intelligence that creates value.

The concept of digital intelligence continues to accelerate here in the Middle East. According to IDC research, 63% of CIOs in the Middle East have brought their digital roadmaps forward by at least one year as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic*. With digital acceleration in full swing, and many organisations now on their way to recovery it is then vital to take a look at how using digital intelligence compares to more traditional strategies, and how CIOs, operational managers and facility managers can adopt a more digitised approach.

The groundwork for success

Let’s take the example of an efficiency-focused strategy – key to unlocking time and cost savings for every kind of facility in the region.

Using data to support the same strategy offers greater operational visibility and creates new opportunities for optimisation, like identifying and addressing problems before they lead to unscheduled downtime, or extending asset lifecycles and ensuring smooth, stable operations.

A good digital strategy also feeds directly into more efficient maintenance management. It enables operators to assign and trace service activities and ensure personnel have real-time and historical asset information right at their fingertips. It’s smarter visibility for everyone.

Taking steps towards evolving a strategy digitally is also a clear statement of intent. It conveys a mindset of adaptation and improvement, and it sets the stage for futureproofing business growth, by creating opportunities for modular, pragmatic onboarding of future digital technologies.

Identify a maintenance strategy

Let’s explore the most common strategic styles and where there’s scope to drive improvements:

A purely reactive model, when maintenance teams fix problems with assets as and when they occur.

Although this method is extremely attractive for facility managers and building operators looking to keep their OPEX low, corrective maintenance is an expensive long-term approach due to frequent unplanned downtime and asset replacements.

A model based on regularly scheduled asset maintenance, whether at predefined times or after intense use.

Preventive maintenance is the usual answer to high direct and indirect costs, since usually the additional required OPEX (routine maintenance) is lower than equipment failure costs (repair or replace, loss production, safety, etc).

This approach is often applied in both industrial maintenance and facility management, however, the OPEX is higher in the longer term.

Moreover, it still leaves operations vulnerable to both random asset failure (a good portion of failure cases), and efficiency drag, where maintenance workers routinely work on assets that don’t need priority attention.

A data-based approach which allows operators to pre-empt problems by proactively monitoring sensor readings against predefined condition parameters.

This method, an enhancement of preventive maintenance, is an ideal entry point for managers who are just starting the digitalisation journey. It demands a more modest upfront investment, and offers a scalable, sustainable strategy. By monitoring conditions, managers can proactively prioritise maintenance, prevent unplanned shutdowns, and create long-term cost savings.

This method combines the capabilities of condition monitoring with powerful analytics that draws on vast libraries of historical data to produce fine-tuned predictive asset health analysis. With the proper asset management solution, operators can access this intelligence with ease and clarity.

Predictive strategies use sophisticated operational insights, that allow operators and facility managers to predict and prevent asset failure, ensure safer maintenance strategies (continuous health analysis), and consistently maximise operational savings (maintenance only when prescribed).

Find your data-driven strategy

Let’s return to the efficiency strategy. Data-driven asset management gives companies in the region the insights and they need not only to optimise efficiency and maintenance now, but also to make better decisions about building and adapting for the future. Although transitioning to a digital asset management solution might feel like a big step, the return on investment makes a compelling case: up to 40% reduction in maintenance costs and extending asset lifecycles by up to 15%.

At ABB, we have developed our own ABB Ability Asset Manager to harness the full potential of data to monitor asset health by logging into a quick and easy dashboard, from anywhere in the world. We are also futureproofing for ourselves and our customers by building this vital tool on a platform that is tried and tested, Azure from Microsoft. But the true value of digital intelligence lies in using it. The sooner, the better.

*Source: IDC Research

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