Ben Harrington, business development director - UK, Ecocentric, looks at how monitoring and analysing a building’s electrical infrastructure can give an accurate picture of a business’ built environment.

The last 12 months have been disruptive and challenging for all of us but as we come out of lockdown in the UK many organisations are using this time as an opportunity to change working practices including where we work and how we interact with colleagues.

Whilst it seems unlikely that the commute has completely vanished, the idea that we get into our car/bus/train every morning will be consigned to history with working from home becoming a more normal and acceptable practice for at least part of our working week.

At the end of last month accountancy firm PWC announced their strategy for returning to work ( where flexibility of hours plays a more important role no doubt changing our need for office space.

Changing built environment

Whilst some aspects of the workplace may be changing, the Covid pandemic has also brought into focus the need to transform how we manage and maintain buildings, physical infrastructure and machines. Restrictions on movement have shown that the practice of having hundreds or even thousands of engineers firefighting asset failure or unscheduled maintenance is outdated and unnecessary. Businesses are turning to technology, now readily available, to transform how they operate, manage, maintain and understand their critical infrastructure.

The technology now exists to efficiently and accurately measure devices/asset performance from a remote location with the requirement to visit those sites/assets only needed when sub-optimal performance, potential breakdown or failure is likely to occur.

As well as measuring failure or suboptimal performance, the capability to understand specific asset faults well in advance of them manifesting in the device performance is also readily available. Imagine knowing that a bearing failure on a pump or a blocked filter on that ACU is occurring well before it manifests into an issue or failure, all this detected from using highly accurate data.

Numen from ecocentric

Our business Ecocentric is one of these next generation technology and data companies based in the UK and Australia dedicated to supporting the global industrial sector.

Our product Numen uses intelligent, interconnected technology to continuously monitor, analyse and learn the performance and usage patterns of a building’s electrical infrastructure. Unlike many existing technologies the aim is to perform this work across the entire organisations’ infrastructure providing a true and accurate picture of a business’ built environment.

This technology is a step beyond existing methods of sensoring technology where condition based monitoring requires intensive and expensive on-site data analysis. This is about gathering high-fidelity data to form part of a connected data-set which is used to understand the behavioural patterns of all connected devices. Ecocentric’s Numen system learns the operation and behavioural patterns of devices and machines.By learning how a particular device performs, we can apply those learning to where we see that device again enabling a true digital transformation and operational change.

Through continuous monitoring, faults can be predicted as well as providing an ongoing diagnostic about performance and status, safety and efficiencies

Numen’s proprietary data acquisition technology uses non-intrusive Current Transformers to acquire high-frequency electrical data that is fed into machine learning and AI algorithms, enabling the system to identify individual machines and devices, monitor their performance and predict faults.

With Numen Intelligent Monitoring, you can set up alerts on critical devices and choose who to notify and how they will be notified in the event of a fault condition or lead indicator.

Numen has the capability to digitally transform multiple sectors including infrastructure, facilities, airports, water/utilities, healthcare and mining.

Numen Launchpad

Typically, Ecocentric engages with clients through its Numen Launchpad programme. This is a phased approach where Numen technology is applied to a particular industry based challenge which is initially proved in controlled conditions before the solution is rolled out into the field. Ecocentric works with a variety of clients and verticals in this space with an overriding objective of being able to apply the Numen technology to scale.

Numen in data centres

One vertical of particular interest is in data centres where efficiency of critical assets is paramount to the operation of the business. One of our clients IAG has found Numendata of particular high value across their business.

Numen has been installed in one of their largest data centres in Australia and has provided easy to access and accurate data in real time. Key benefits to using Numen have included:

  • Providing Realtime Accessible Data. IAG previously had access to asset data via their BMS but they’ve found it much harder to integrate and understand, requiring a lot of interpretation and analysis. With Numen it’s simple to digest and enables fast and accurate decision making.
  • Fault and Anomaly Detection - As Numen can benchmark sub-optimal asset performance Numen provides accurate data on anomalies. IAG’s Data Centre Manager David Wait says “Every time something electrically funny comes up we turn to Numen as it’s so easy to get the data''
  • Providing and Validating Business Cases Numen has been extremely valuable in both providing and validating the business case replacement of key assets. For example IAG have recently replaced one of their main data room chillers with clear energy savings of over $250k AUD per year.
  • Measurement and reduction of PUE - A commonly used metric in measuring data centre efficiency is Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) which is the ratio of total power used to run the facility to the power to run the hardware. A high PUE means cooling is inefficient so Numen has been used to benchmark levels to provide a business case in change in assets or behaviour. As Numen can alert to fault conditions and sub-optimal behaviour it enabled IAG to reduce their PUE 1 from 1:4 to 1:2.

IAG are now planning an expanded installation of Numen across their other sites in Australia.