Comment: Technology can be a disruptive force in countering MEP challenges

Prabhu Ramachandran, the founder and CEO of Facilio Inc., talks about MEP adopting emerging technologies.

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Prabhu Ramachandran is the founder and CEO of Facilio Inc. Facilio builds a unified suite of facilities and energy management software that harnesses IoT and Machine Learning to manage buildings efficiently and sustainably.
Prabhu Ramachandran is the founder and CEO of Facilio Inc. Facilio builds a unified suite of facilities and energy management software that harnesses IoT and Machine Learning to manage buildings efficiently and sustainably.

The current scenario and MEP challenges

While the MEP industry has had rapid technological advancement and innovations in the last ten years, building services engineering processes still lack a software-led approach to maximising building management efficiencies.
Being a services-driven business, MEP providers need to satisfy multiple objectives and criteria for design, installation, commissioning, operation, and maintenance of buildings. From Building Management Systems to HVAC, plumbing, electrical, fire protection, AV and other controls, the current scenario involves managing multiple vendor products, across all these services, with minimal software technology implementation to aid efficiencies. This results in disjointed, and therefore, slow and expensive processes. Siloes of information across a matrix of services and a lack of engagement also mean customer relationships tend to remain fluid in this space, with no compulsion to stick with providers. Additionally, optimising workforce efficiencies remains a key challenge, which can help improve profits, as well as customer experience.

Changing the game for MEP: Improved customer experience & profits with a software-led approach

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Effective building management requires effective MEP coordination, and the biggest hurdle in this regard has been the lack or slow adoption of software-led technology to help the MEP sector tackle specific business and technical issues.
While technologies like object-oriented 3D models have enabled some efficiencies, using software to capture the distributed knowledge concerning the different types of systems, and customising the software to meet the special needs of MEP coordination, has hitherto been elusive.
However, MEP providers can now benefit from specific software-led tools that converge the power of IoT, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to add true value to customer relationships and for the MEP industry.
By providing a 360-degree hub, starting from work order management, preventive and predictive maintenance, asset and space management, to fire safety, LEED assessment, water management, deep HVAC monitoring and energy analytics, a software-led approach can help MEP providers predictively manage the health of their building management systems, improve end customer value, revenues and profits as well as expand their services portfolio.

Real-time, actionable insights enable value engineering for MEP

The true potential of IoT and machine learning in building management systems is also being leveraged to preserve and optimise the large value investments that buildings incur.
An enormous amount of data is created from building systems, which is currently unused. Software-led solutions enable this existing date to be analysed to create real-time, actionable insights that can help MEP professionals optimise their building management and improve everyday efficiencies, through instances like ideal temperature control, proactive alerts on a broken damper or an AHU component that is due for maintenance as well as being able to pinpoint precise information on the cause of electrical, plumbing or mechanical issues in a building portfolio.
This eventually translates into proactive and sustainable building management, resulting in cost and energy savings for customers, and a smoother user experience, which finally enables MEP professionals to transcend into becoming value players.
By unifying siloed systems, software-led applications for MEP also provide deep insight into workforce performance and technician productivity. This data, combined with information on which equipment yield the best financial results – value-engineering - ensure higher ROI’s for customers and improved compliance to SLAs, spelling out not just better revenues but also return customers through sustained performance.
MEP professionals who work on HVAC, lifts, fire and power systems can immensely benefit if these systems are software-enabled and can be monitored, predictively, on the go by MEP teams, greatly improving efficiencies and revenues, and adding immense value to customers.

The way forward

Software applications and technology platforms aren’t just improving efficiency anymore. They are also changing the way that companies engage with the customer. With drill down metrics of available data, MEP providers can predictively ascertain issues within building systems and circumvent heavy investment costs. The efficiencies created through seamless functioning of these assets in turn ensures customer retention and overall improved customer experience.

In the evolving scenario, facilities management and sustainability are converging and even becoming a necessary mandate. MEP, being integral to the BMS eco system, is looking to adopt emerging technology – specifically IoT, machine learning and AI for enhanced performance, return on investment and customer engagement and value.

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