What Is BAS Predictive Maintenance?

A technician checking on a building automation system.

Many property owners and operators are missing out on a key advantage offered by their buildings’ “smart” integrated management systems. Leveraging predictive maintenance for building automation systems not only saves money on upkeep and overheads but also allows you to catch problems before they start.

Stay Ahead of the Game With BAS Predictive Maintenance

Maintenance is a never-ending task and a major expense for any building manager. It has also become increasingly complex and specialized as building systems become more integrated through digitally based building automation systems (BASs).

As a building operator, you know the value of catching potential problems in advance and reducing system downtime. Still, you might be missing out on the benefits of a key maintenance tool that could already be built into your existing BAS infrastructure. Let’s take a look at what predictive maintenance is and how it can benefit your operation.

Preventive vs. Predictive Maintenance for Building Automation Systems

Cost-conscious property operators usually have a solid preventative maintenance program in place for their building or campus. Typically this involves a process of regularly reviewing manuals and maintenance records and then assigning maintenance time—ideally before a particular part or system requires attention.

Done consistently, preventative maintenance can help you plan and minimize expensive and inconvenient outages for your owners or tenants by ensuring you have replacement parts on hand. It also lets you have eyes on all your systems regularly, hopefully allowing you to catch other issues before they become a problem.

That said, preventative maintenance is also:

  • Time consuming: Records need to be physically maintained, checked, and updated
  • Labor intensive: Qualified staff need to identify and carry out maintenance work
  • Relatively inefficient: Parts are replaced and systems checked based on industry averages, rather than the needs of your specific system.

Predictive maintenance makes use of the smart technologies already running key systems in your building to make sure maintenance gets done when needed. It uses data collected from sensors monitoring environmental variables or system diagnostics to predict when a part or sub-system will need to be serviced or replaced.

In effect, predictive maintenance allows you to automate parts of your maintenance planning process, with real benefits for BAS performance and energy and maintenance costs.

Where Can Predictive Maintenance Be Used?

Predictive maintenance is already possible on components that impact overall system performance directly. These include:

  • Air filters on furnace and HVAC systems
  • Belts on air handlers
  • Cooling tower components

Increasingly smart diagnostics and data analytics will allow predictive maintenance of more physical and digital BAS infrastructure. While still in its infancy, artificial intelligence and machine learning are driving the development of sophisticated algorithms for managing and targeting maintenance across BAS installations.

Why Is Predictive Maintenance So Useful?

Just-in-time predictive maintenance offers a range of clear and measurable benefits for building owners, operators, and tenants. These include:

  • Improved performance: Replacing parts as needed means your BAS operates at peak-rated performance for longer, rather than deteriorating over time.
  • Lower energy costs: Key environmental systems run more efficiently, offering long-term savings on increasingly expensive energy overheads.
  • Labor savings: There’s less paper chasing to schedule maintenance, and your technical staff spends more time where their skills are needed.
  • Parts savings: You replace parts as needed, not before or after. You’ll spend less and get more out of the parts you do buy, while just-in-time (or even automated) ordering reduces paperwork and storage needs.
  • Longer system life: Constant monitoring and timely part replacement reduce wear and tear on your BAS components, extend system life, and improves return on investment.

How Does Predictive Maintenance Work?

Predictive maintenance is driven by two sources of primary information about systems’ performance:

  • Run time data: Individual units, such as HVAC pumps, can record and report how much runtime they have logged, allowing more accurate timing of part replacements.
  • Performance or environmental data: Sensors that measure the efficiency of systems, either directly through performance data or indirectly through environmental monitoring  allow real-time measures for optimal maintenance scheduling.

For example, an as-needed component such as a heat pump that reports its actual run time (as opposed to the total up-time of the entire HVAC system) will allow a more accurate measure of when it will be time to switch associated filters, seals, or other replacement parts.

Meanwhile, individual sensors measure the performance of individual units, rather than cross-system averages or industry standards which allows for more accurate predictions of maintenance trajectories. For example, increasing vibration within a cooling tower sub-system can flag that the unit will need maintenance to maintain maximum efficiency.

Predictive Maintenance for Your Building Automation System: Let BAS Take Care of Itself

Despite these advantages, the adoption of predictive maintenance services by building owners and operators has been slow. This is surprising, considering that much of the technology is readily already available and may even already be in place in your building.

While the full potential of advanced diagnostics may be some way off, predictive maintenance technologies offer real savings amid today’s soaring costs and skills shortages. If you’re not yet considering predictive maintenance strategies for your building, you could be missing out on advantages including:

  •     Low-cost setup using existing systems
  •     Lower labor costs and better use of your existing people
  •     Less human error in your maintenance program

With much of the BAS infrastructure already in place, integration specialists like Conexus are key to developing predictive maintenance functionality into your property. Talk to us about how we can help you cut costs using your existing BAS infrastructure or raise your maintenance game by rolling out the latest in integrated building management solutions.

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Click below to learn how Conexus can help you unlock the potential of BAS-driven predictive maintenance.

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