Intelligent building asset management

Wireless sensors and other tools can help optimize building management and use.

By Andrew Schneider, CMO, EnOcean April 18, 2018

The Internet of Things (IoT) is increasing the performance of everyday tasks. Using individual sensors, which are networked with a large and growing number of smart devices that send data to the cloud, paves the way for many new application possibilities in a facility.

Today, buildings are more than just providing a roof over our heads. They can help support everyday tasks to save time and money.

Building-use management

Smart building-use management is an important new tool in which companies establish the requirements for the optimum use and management of cost-intensive resources in terms of space, personnel, and objects. On average, half of the available space in a typical office building remains unoccupied over the course of a business day.

Energy-harvesting wireless room sensors supply detailed information on how building areas and rooms are actually being used, which permits optimum room planning that assigns employees to available spaces. Services in the area of human resources and inventory management can be significantly optimized with the aid of suitable sensors. These sensors supply detailed information on usage patterns during normal operations as well as events, and they also take into account differences in times of day and the weather. Usage patterns of the building, personnel, and inventory thus can be prepared to determine the optimum use of resources and security requirements.

Use management in office spaces and hotels

Building space is an extremely expensive resource, costing up to several hundred or even thousands of dollars per square foot. However, less than 70% of many spaces are used, such as office working areas, hotel rooms, conference rooms, cafeterias, hallways, and storage rooms. As a result, operating expenses in the millions are unnecessarily incurred for heating, lighting, and maintenance. Existing hotel rooms can be upgraded easily with the aid of wireless sensors—without impairing normal building operation—, thereby reducing energy consumption by 30% to 40%.

Suitable sensors can be used to prepare the use pattern for the building, personnel, and inventory: presence detectors in the room or at individual seats; door contacts; sensors for counting people; or power meters for detecting the activity of electronic devices (i.e., printers, copiers, soap dispensers, coffee machines, electric kettles, ventilation units). Transmitting "wireless beacons" are used to determine the locations of mobile devices and furniture. If the capacity of company facilities is only partially used, for example, combining multiple sites can help reduce costs. And if the building system determines that no employees enter the building before 8 a.m., the heating times can be adjusted accordingly.

Sanitary facilities management

It is practically impossible to forecast the optimum maintenance and cleaning of sanitary facilities in office buildings according to their actual use. For example, toilets are often not cleaned when needed, and paper and soap dispensers can empty out in the middle of the day, which is frustrating for users. Simple monitoring of sanitary facilities with presence sensors makes it possible to efficiently clean the areas and plan resources, which in turn, substantially lowers costs and increases user satisfaction.

There is an enormous amount of unstructured data that needs to be sifted through, analyzed, weighed, interpreted, and learned. The latest data must be used for control purposes, but this data should also be compared against historic information and other data available on the internet, to discover any unknown correlations that may exist. This will result in new insights and a deeper understanding of interrelationships.

Andreas Schneider was appointed president of EnOcean in January 2017. He is one of the co-founders of EnOcean and has been Chief Marketing Officer of the company since 2001.

Andreas Schneider’s career has focused on creating markets for innovative wireless technology and developing worldwide sales strategies for these products. In the 5 years before EnOcean GmbH was founded, he was responsible for worldwide marketing of global system for mobile communication modules at Siemens AG. Prior to that, he spent 9 years working in the global systems and product business for a number of companies—including serving as sales director for trunked radio systems at Rohde & Schwarz BICK Mobilfunk GmbH.

Schneider studied electrical engineering at Munich Technical University, with a special interest in RF (radio frequency) engineering and components. In the course of his career, he has obtained various management qualifications from institutes including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, INSEAD, and the Indian Institute of Management.