This article was originally published in the Autumn 2018 issue of The Record.
Based in Lincoln, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is the oldest public research university in the US state of Nebraska. It currently serves more than 25,000 students and employs nearly 6,500 staff and faculty members.
A few years ago, UNL set an ambitious goal of reducing energy consumption in many of the university buildings by more than 15%. To achieve this, UNL’s assistant vice chancellor Jim Jackson and the Building Systems Maintenance (BSM) team turned to advanced technology. They decided to implement a fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) solution developed by Microsoft CityNext partner ICONICS. Built on Microsoft technologies such as SQL Server database for configuration and runtime operations, the solution combines big data with the internet of things (IoT) to help UNL identify and fix problems well before mechanical equipment breaks down.
UNL selected ICONICS’ GENESIS64 HMI/SCADA and AnalytiX actionable intelligence suites, along with Facility AnalytiX predictive software for facilities management. The BSM team installed energy-efficient equipment and automated building systems to minimise energy waste from mechanical and electrical equipment, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. The team installed more than 60,000 sensors and control devices on equipment throughout the university, which now collect around 7.4 million pieces of data every day to help maintenance workers reduce energy use in the buildings and perform predictive maintenance.
When a sensor captures a reading outside of designated parameters set by the BSM team, the university’s maintenance control centre automatically receives an alert so the team can fix the issue remotely or dispatch a technician to the building. Thanks to FDD, UNL can avoid catastrophic equipment breakdowns, while maintaining energy efficiency gains. Rather than recommissioning campus buildings every five years and watching energy efficiency diminish over time, the BSM team can now continuously commission mechanical systems and make small adjustments to preserve building equipment performance.
The technology from ICONICS has also transformed how the BSM team operates. When an alert is triggered, engineers are often able to fix the issue remotely, at little to no cost. If technicians need to physically travel to the building, they have detailed information about the problem before they arrive, allowing them to repair issues faster.
“We don’t want to be just your traditional maintenance organisation,” says Jackson. “We want to be innovative and cutting edge, and in collaboration with Microsoft partner ICONICS, we are able to continue achieving our goals as an energy efficiency leader.”
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