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A discount retailer achieves multiple goals with AI, IoT and remote operations
What a difference a decade makes. Once a fledgling startup solely focused on saving energy, EcoEnergy Insights has since transformed itself into a trailblazing provider of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for smart building and equipment operations.
The company – now part of Carrier Global Corporation – leverages advanced digital technologies to enable businesses across the world to connect their buildings to the cloud and manage everything from air quality and temperature compliance to energy, fuel and water usage, equipment maintenance and demand response.
In an increasingly boundless world, remote building services – which can predict and avoid potentially catastrophic problems – are no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Indeed, today’s commercial, multi-site businesses – such as retailers – have come to rely on remote services for successful building and store operations. That’s where a command center – such as EcoEnergy Insights’ BluEdge Command Centers – comes in, ensuring that building operations are secure, smart and scalable in a way that not only empowers employees but also engages customers.
The judging panel for the 2022 IoT Innovator Awards recognized EcoEnergy Insights’ “finely honed ability to transform building operations into something truly intelligent,” naming the company a gold winner in its ‘Best of IoT – Services’ category.
The IoT Innovator Awards honor the best of the Internet of Things businesses and products across the globe by recognizing those pioneers who are channeling for users the infinite potential of the IoT in notably innovative and valuable ways.
IoT Innovator judges were struck by EcoEnergy Insights’ ability to establish central command centers that are able to give building managers always-on, ‘eye-in-the-sky’ views of entire building sites, thanks to AI and IoT technologies as well as expert human intervention.
“Our BluEdge Command Centers enable the realization of the opportunities that AI, IoT and other digital technologies bring. The buildings industry is not used to having remote operations deployed at scale like in other industries, so we’re proud to see our command centers at the forefront of this transformative deployment,” said Mansoor Ahmad, EcoEnergy Insights’ Managing Director. “We have been scaling up our capabilities as well as the number and type of buildings we manage over the past few years, and to see that growth recognized with a ‘Best of IoT – Services’ award greatly validates our innovations, hard work and focus on providing excellent service and value to customers.”
Remote services bridging the distance
Technologies such as AI and IoT have rendered buildings more efficient and intelligent, mostly by using data from equipment to improve operations. This includes gathering insights on energy consumption patterns and supporting maintenance efforts and optimization. AI and IoT can also predict potential issues with equipment, preventing failures while ensuring equipment continues to perform at peak performance. Meanwhile, IoT enables the same equipment to communicate, and be controlled to respond to or prepare for, a range of scenarios.
But data and insights in the absence of human intelligence and intervention provide limited value. That’s why more and more organizations are monitoring their operations remotely by installing smart pieces of equipment and using human expertise to effectively operate them. This means organizations can remotely monitor and control equipment to optimize energy costs while ensuring optimal conditions for building occupants and inventory.
“This is regarded as the decade of decarbonization. Commercial businesses today need to achieve their ambitious carbon reduction goals while operating healthier, safer and more intelligent buildings for their employees and customers. AI and IoT technology can help,” said Ahmad.
The underlying benefit of remote services is that they facilitate almost-instant access to service personnel and their availability, even in far-flung sites and locations. This allows BluEdge Command Center operators to promptly respond to a building’s performance problems without needing to immediately dispatch technicians. This means that Command Center operators attempt to intervene remotely before planning and scheduling any dispatches.
Scaling new heights
Remote services offered by BluEdge Command Centers are scalable, which means they can be used at thousands of buildings. What’s more, operations at each of these buildings can be optimized by benchmarking against the other connected buildings being managed.
The scale at which the BluEdge Command Centers operate speaks for itself: Teams of skilled analysts, data scientists and domain experts field 12,000 customer service requests and 10,000 technician service requests each month for more than 51,000 buildings globally. These teams also manage nearly half a million pieces of equipment and have remotely resolved, on average, 63 percent of issues raised by customers in a year.
People, process and platforms: The trifecta for successful remote services
Full service command centers such as BluEdge are like unicorns: they require the right teams (people) equipped with the right technology (platforms) to carry out the right procedures (processes) to ensure they can easily manage and improve equipment operations remotely.
The people include a cross-functional team of highly skilled personnel – which includes everyone from experienced operators and skilled technicians to seasoned analysts able to track and dissect multiple business trends. The technology includes all of the tools that empower the team to understand what is taking place in a building or buildings and then act accordingly to prevent any undesired outcomes. The technology also enables the team to do what they do best, which is to be proactive. This is where EcoEnergy Insights’ award-winning CORTIX platform plays an important role in feeding precise actionable insights to the team.
The third component of a full-service command center is the process. BluEdge Command Centers are constantly improving processes, using available technology – such as predictive analytics – to help execute timely and accurate remote interventions. One key process – the Change Management Process – allows the team to present a blueprint for a successful organization-level transformation that can lead individuals, teams and entire organizations through changes both all-encompassing (such as incorporating AI and IoT) and targeted (such as managing building equipment operations and maintenance).
‘Systems Thinking’ approach: The way of the future
In the past, solving a problem would typically involve working with a single expert. Today, the world has evolved to a point where problems have become more complex, requiring experts from multiple areas to be involved and to work collaboratively. This is certainly true when it comes to managing buildings and equipment operations.
Businesses are increasingly adopting complex, tech-enabled equipment that often requires not only the expertise of that equipment’s technician, but also others such as controls experts, data analysts, and IT experts. Essentially, problems need to be solved holistically with not just a “components” view but also a “systems” view.
Very few organizations have a specialized team dedicated to solving problems from multiple perspectives. That’s why it’s significant that the team at the BluEdge Command Centers looks at problems from a systems view, which allows them to make timely and precise interventions that are necessary to solve problems. The results from these interventions are captured to further refine the process and improve the accuracy of the predictions from the CORTIX platform. This way, the learning is applied when similar problems arise with other customers, thus bringing efficiency to customers regardless of how long they have been working with EcoEnergy Insights.
It’s clear that remote building services – with their ability to head off potentially disastrous problems – are a necessity in today’s world. Luckily, EcoEnergy Insights’ BluEdge Command Centers can ensure that building operations are ready to transition into a smarter way of working. Sounds to us like they have a distinct edge in the buildings industry.Reprinted with the permission of IoT Innovator ©️2022. All rights reserved.