Award winning manufacturer of IT-based building automation.
EMAIL INTERVIEW – Rick Rolston and Ken Sinclair
Rick Rolston, CEO and Founder, BuiltSpace Technologies Corporation, Vancouver BC, Canada.
Rick has over 20
years of experience in building information management, and in 1998
launched one of the first successful building related
Software-as-a-Service applications on the internet. Find him on
LinkedIn at http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/rick-rolston/4/29/26a
BuiltSpace provides building information management, integration, and related services to the facilities and construction industry. The company launched the industry’s first integrated, collaboration FM platform in 2012, and now manages assets in over 17,000 buildings . For more information, please visit our website at http://www.builtspace.com.
Sinclair: In last month’s A Perspective on the IoT in Buildings,
John Petze proclaimed ‘that there is no such thing as the
“IoT.”’ Do you agree with John? How does BuiltSpace
fit into the IoT, (if there is such a thing)?
question, Ken. I think John’s comments confirm that we are
all trying to get our heads around what exactly the IoT is, and how IoT
technologies should be implemented. John’s right in that the IoT
is a concept, not a “thing.” A lot of the buzz in the
industry is about connecting everything in buildings, but personally, I
think that’s putting the cart before the horse. I believe
that IoT is the transformation of business processes, and that process
improvement and collaboration are necessary prerequisites to connected
devices in buildings. If successful, this transformation
will provide large cost savings, not hard drives filled with incoherent
data. BuiltSpace’s role in the “IoT” is measurement,
verification and accounting for services, whether performed by people
Sinclair: Measurement and verification of services. I can see the need for that. What IoT technologies come into play?
Rolston: If an IoT
device can trigger a service intervention alert in milliseconds, but it
takes months to close the react, you are looking at an IoT process that
can’t be effectively managed.
Manual labour costs are the big-ticket
items in buildings. We want to minimize these costs,
sometimes with sensors in the buildings, but more critically with
efficient business processes. Measurement and verification
of services will calculate the savings achieved by automation of
building processes. This is not at all unlike M&V for energy,
but only labour costs at $4 for every dollar spent on energy in the
same building. We are replacing traditional work order
processes with digital, asset-centric, processes that provide
standardized operations and maintenance procedures, whether the work is
completed by in-house staff or external contractors.
processes with cost data should let facilities operators better gauge
the cost of future repairs. That’s pretty useful data for
operational analytics. Do you see a role for AI in your database?
Rolston: Yes, we’ve
been working with IBM Watson in this area. It’s very exciting to
think about the potential savings from better understanding operations
and maintenance across an entire facilities portfolio. AI
analytics will combine operational data (for example, the pressure drop
across an air filter), with analytics to determine the most
cost-effective strategy, which will likely still be bulk filter
changes, based on similar operational environments. It’s simply
cheaper to do many changes in a single trip.
Sinclair: What other roles do you see for AI?
Rolston: We are working
on conversational service requests. Buildings are still
designed to meet the needs of people, so why not have building
occupants talk their building. Amazon (Alexa) is
doing it for single-family homes. Commercial buildings are
much more complex, but why not?: “Watson, I’m
cold.” It’s quite possible that having Watson take the
first “Hey Watson” request, and act on it, could save people a
lot of time, and even provide an enjoyable experience for building
occupants, even optimizing building set points based on AI cognitive
talked about bringing financial and operational data together, for use
in operational analytics, and using cognitive services to make it
available to people. Will that all be on the Builtspace
platform? How do you get the data?
Rolston: Gartner calls the digital twin,
a digital representation of a physical asset, to be “the” technology of
2017. Digital twins, which bring OT & IT data together across
large facilities portfolios, are the killer app for cost-effective
building operations. We’ve built over 17,000 digital twins so
far, and that pace is accelerating. It’s here that we can apply
cognitive services and take facilities management to the next level.
Sinclair: So what kind of cost-efficiency savings are we talking about?
Rolston: Facilities services are a $1.12 trillion annual spend globally, and that doesn’t count self-managed buildings. A survey by Employable.com
found that as many as 66% of employees in the UK workers believe their
time is wasted on a daily basis because of the inefficiencies of
business processes and systems. They found that 32% of workers
estimated waste of 2 – 3 hours of their workday as a result of these
systemic inefficiencies. If, as the survey suggests,
systemic inefficiency in facilities management means that 2-3 hours per
day, per employee, is wasted, this suggests that global facilities
operators can potentially save $400 billion annually. This
may be the world’s largest data-mining opportunity, and the rewards
will go to those that capture and mine the best operational
Sinclair: BuiltSpace has a very interesting take on the IoT. You’re saying that automated buildings need to be managed by IoT compatible business processes that focus on building assets rather than work order tasks. You provide digital business processes that digitally include building occupants, tenants, facilities staff, and all your service partners, as well as your IoT devices in a single integrated solution. That’s a big idea, and it looks like you guys are doing it. Good luck.
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