Why Integrated Operational Technology is helping to streamline building maintenance

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What is Integrated Operational Technology? Cameron Exley from GEG to talk about how integrating technology into the facility can be a long-term cost-effective solution.

Often confused with Information Technology, OT is the focus on behaviours and outcomes. Most control systems employed across industrial and manufacturing installations in the past weren’t networked. The result? Siloed specialised devices, each electronic, but lacking the ability to communicate or share information with one another. This results in human operators to bridge these gaps.

At GEG, Cameron Exley has been brought on board as the Head of Technology Commercialisation. The role has been created to help customers working in facilities management to solve different tech challenges and differences within their operational technology environments. It’s essential in streamlining these technologies and making sure that they are talking to one another.
It’s so important for these technologies to be able to read one another. This is done by aligning different resources in-house with traditional service lines. Combining teams to bring in the right players at the right time, and the problem is solved. Exley concentrates at searching for the best solution. It’s important to him that businesses and organisations know that it’s not always a tech upgrade.

Traditionally the OT environment has been sold as individual products. This includes CCTV systems, air conditioning and purifying, lighting, the list goes on. It was individual things that helped the operations of the building. But, with the tech advances, it’s turning into an interesting space. The whole concept of Master Systems Integrator (MSI) was born and is starting to mature.

As an example, building managers and facility managers have been looking at air quality sensors a lot recently. With the pandemic and less bodies in the office, air quality has become so important, in addition to temperature. Integrating operational technology will help with this: air quality sensors will talk to the air conditioner and improve comfort and efficiency, it will then measure the air quality, including particulate matter that includes VOCs and CO2 levels in the air and report back on the air quality. Customers are looking for things to operate holistically, and this is where we can assist. The newly appointed roles are to make sure that a single environment of technology ecosystem is created.

At GEG, there is a focus on four outcomes for building’s tenants. These are:

  1. Reduce risk. This is top of the funnel of importance. The health and safety of GEG’s building’s tenants. A need to assess failures, look at the commercial uses of the buildings. But it’s also about so much more than this. Part of risk reduction is looking at cyber risks. Cyber risks have become such a major player in people’s setup, huge companies have fallen victim to cyber breaches. Exley wants to provide assurance that people’s cyber safety is the best it can be.
  2. Reduce expenditure. But what does this mean? This is about showing tenants that a one time cost can mean huge savings over a period of time. Office places and commercial spaces are so different to what they once were, with less people coming in and out, more hybrid work. Maybe less lighting needs to be used, maybe an air conditioner needs to understand how many bodies there are in one room at a time, and minimise the power. These are the sort of things Exley chooses to focus on.
  3. Improve environmental stance. Sustainability is so important these days. And there is now technology that allows monitoring in much greater detail the energy usage in a building. GEG invented a system that would detail this, pre smart metres.
  4. Reduce complaints. Exley wants to have his tenants having no reason to say that their systems aren’t operating smoothly.

There has always been some hesitation when it comes to adopting new technology. However, Exley sees this hesitation changing. The technology is coming down to an affordable price point now – tenants are able to see this as an affordable and worthwhile investment. There used to be no data to prove that there were savings to be had, but now there’s ways to prove that retroactively fitting things can (and will) be cost effective.

The industry is becoming more technology forward, and this is the way of the future.

Cameron Exley is the Head of Technology Commercialisation at Grosvenor Engineering Group.

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