Without a doubt, managing energy costs while driving sustainability and efficiency is one of the biggest power management challenges that facility professionals face today.
While advances in technology are making building power management and electrical maintenance more efficient, there are new obstacles that come along with these improvements.
For example, one of the biggest trends impacting power management in a facility is the growth of complex electrical networks that operate hybrid power generation models like solar.
In the past, every building was designed the same way from an electrical perspective, with the primary power source coming directly from the electrical utility.
Now, we have much more complex buildings with different needs regarding where they consume energy and how they manage the various power sources, be it the grid or other renewable sources.
This adds a layer of complexity for building managers because now they are not just a consumer of energy but also a producer of energy and must manage those two actions in parallel to maximise the building’s operations.
Additionally, the face of the building facility manager is changing. Traditionally, a facility manager was an engineer and, in many cases, had been stationed in the same building for years.
We see a shift in that profile as older workers retire and a new generation of facility managers emerges. They may not know a particular facility’s intricate ins and outs but bring unique backgrounds and skill sets that require training and knowledge transfer to leverage today’s digital opportunities.
It’s also important to consider that many facilities view electricity as a critical resource. Hospitals, for example, have always considered electricity as mission critical as the loss of power becomes a life safety issue. Now, buildings like shopping malls view it with the same magnitude.
If the mall loses power and the stores within it have to close, that outage can drive customers to competitor malls and significantly impact the bottom line.
To tackle these challenges, the convergence of IT/OT combined with the increasingly digital and electric world allows Schneider Electric to offer smart interoperable solutions, systems and products that do not cost more to build and commission while bringing substantial cost efficiencies and operational synergies.
Thus, building owners can quickly run their buildings more efficiently. To do this, there is an increasing reliance on system integrators and their support teams to help optimise electrical equipment and energy performance, improve electrical system reliability, and manage energy costs.
This means that systems integrators need to be entirely up to speed and knowledgeable on the latest electrical and energy system technology to deliver the best service for their clients.
To ensure they are up for the task, system integrators focus on gaining access to the industry-leading technology solutions that will drive the future of intelligent buildings – and the highly skilled people needed to design, install and support those solutions.
This goes hand in hand with regular, specialised training on the most critical challenges facing building owners and facility managers and the solutions that can solve them. Such training sessions help system integrators broaden their expertise to offer their clients a greater range of products and solutions and help them stand out.
These days, building managers need a full range of technologies and an army of experts to optimise operational efficiency and management of energy and electrical systems.
Nobody can go it alone anymore. By partnering with competent solution providers, Schneider Electric constantly expands its expertise by creating the right partnership ecosystem, making the challenge at hand much more manageable for building owners to tackle.
Carol Koech, Country President, Schneider Electric East Africa.