The Internet of Things (IoT) is completely transforming everyday life. These days, it seems like everything from TVs to refrigerators is connected to the internet. But this connectivity can go even farther — particularly in the commercial space.
Indeed, IoT is fast becoming an essential edition to any facilities maintenance plan. Entire systems stand to benefit from increased connectivity, helping identify opportunities for energy savings, mitigating maintenance issues and more.
For Costas Polycarpou, founder of Polyteck, the opportunities and challenges inherent in IoT show a clear path forward for better building performance.
IoT Applications In the Commercial Space
“What many people don’t understand is that IoT applications in the commercial space go well beyond what we see in residential homes,” Polycarpou explains.
“Commercial building advances have always paced ahead of the residential space, and IoT is no different. Yet, even though there are more resources available, there are still many companies lagging in adopting and implementing IoT systems. This brings opportunities for early adopters to cut costs and get ahead of their competitors.”
Adoption of IoT in commercial buildings is rapidly accelerating. In fact, one study estimated that commercial office buildings would increase IoT device adoption by 152 percent by 2022. These IoT additions don’t just include devices that will make everyday work easier for employees. They will also include products and solutions that will enhance the efficiency and safety of the buildings themselves.
Of course, commercial-level solutions require commercial-grade IoT systems. This means integrations that are more reliable — and even more advanced — than what is readily available for customers in stores.
Getting Beyond the Basics
Polycarpou is quick to cite examples of commercial building IoT systems that go well beyond what the everyday homeowner is used to with their Google Home or Alexa device.
“We have installed IoT sensors to monitor air and space temperature, water temperature in water tanks, hot water circuits, refrigerant pressure, boiler switches and more,” he says.
“Practically every system in a building can be monitored and improved upon with IoT integration. When you have IoT functionality tracking system performance, you can detect temperature fluctuations, leaks or any other issue before it gets out of hand.”
Naturally, such integration requires systems that are more advanced than what you’d install for your own home. Beyond providing accurate readings of the systems they are monitoring, these IoT systems must also be able to link with external building maintenance systems that may already be in place.
“Flexibility is key, and that is accomplished through an open architecture design,” Polycarpou explains. “Pairing this with an easy to read dashboard and taking steps to ensure the entire setup is secured against unauthorized access is vital for building managers to get the needed results.”
This is especially true considering how many different IoT devices and cloud systems may already be in use in a single facility. A commercial building (particularly one that is home to multiple companies) could have dozens of IoT suppliers and cloud services already in place, each housing sensitive data.
For building managers, ensuring that these diverse systems don’t interfere with building performance IoT makes the job that much easier.
Remote Monitoring and Control In a Post-Pandemic World
One of the chief advantages of IoT is the introduction of true remote monitoring. “Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that building maintenance monitoring need not always be in-person,” Polycarpou notes. “Our remote monitoring setup sends alerts and updates without the need for anyone to be right next to the system in question. Building managers, security and maintenance providers can get alerts no matter where they are, allowing them to respond swiftly and appropriately.”
Such IoT systems can go beyond monitoring for maintenance emergencies. The ability to control HVAC and other systems remotely can help facilities managers reduce energy costs for buildings that may no longer be operating at full capacity as they were pre-pandemic.
“A building manager working from home could use monitoring data to make critical energy-saving adjustments without needing to go into the building themselves. The ROI from such adjustments is often overlooked, but we’ve already seen it yield over £330k for a single property developer.”
Online monitoring also improves communication between the various parties involved in building maintenance. Online alerts can be sent to multiple points of contact who should be aware of an issue.
This eliminates the risk for miscommunications, as all invested parties have transparent, up-to-date information regarding current system status. Decisions can be carried out swiftly, relying on accurate insights to avoid costly maintenance mistakes.
A More Connected Future
As the IoT applications being created by Polyteck reveal, IoT has nearly limitless potential in enhancing building performance. “The key at this point is ensuring that building managers understand what IoT can do for them,” Polycarpou says. “The more people who experience it firsthand, the more willing they will be to adopt it for their own facilities. When this happens at scale, the savings and performance potential will be enormous.”
Only time will tell what additional IoT advancements are on the way, but for now, Polycarpou and Polyteck seem well suited to lead the charge.
(Syndicated press content is neither written, edited or endorsed by ED Times)