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Buildings around the world are gradually evolving in the way they are built, managed, and maintained. Technology has entirely changed the most fundamental aspects of commercial real estate, shifting focus towards space and resource optimization to adding value to the lives of people using those buildings. With artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and the internet of things (IoT) making buildings smarter than ever, the facility management (FM) industry has been experiencing a rapidly increasing demand for digital transformation. As a result, there is a paradigm shift in age-old practices of maintaining and managing facilities, which, in turn, is enhancing the overall people experience.
Smart buildings, with their multitude of sensors and connected assets, create access to powerful information, ranging from temperature and humidity to utility consumption and operational status of equipment. The core capabilities of various cutting-edge solutions that these smart buildings employ involve enhancing tenants’ comfort and security along with promoting energy savings and sustainability for the facility. Less commonly covered in mainstream discussions is the use of building data to enhance FM operations and drive efficiencies in FM related services. However, not all building owners and facility managers have the necessary expertise and resources to select and leverage technologies most suitable to support their desired smart building and smart FM transformation. Much of their interest in adopting emerging technologies, is countered by inadequate evaluation of the complexity around integrating new technology with legacy systems and processes, and their real potential to deliver the intended outcomes. Singapore-based AECUS Asia assists such building owners and facility managers with deep data analytics, IoT, and AI-based, as well as digital FM solutions and consulting beyond simply installing sensors and delivering data visualization dashboards. AECUS educates clients on technology and provides affordable solutions that operate seamlessly alongside existing systems, striking a balance between clients’ investments and tangible benefits.
AECUS’s AI platform for FM—ADAM—acts as an assistant for building owners and facility managers in realizing untapped efficiencies, improvements, and savings in a building’s operations. While clients can drive actionable outcomes and make informed decisions using ADAM, AECUS also guides them on realistic ROI identification, investment planning, and solution selection. Whether the client is a small retail store or a large hotel, AECUS designs and deploys solutions that ensure optimal facility performance with regard to energy conservation, utility management, predictive maintenance, equipment lifespan, health and safety, cybersecurity, and more.
From Consulting to Developing Digital FM Solutions
“We recently rebranded our company from AECUS Consulting to AECUS Asia, purely because we have transcended beyond just consulting clients on improving FM and better managing their contracts with service providers. The ability to build technology-integrated FM solutions that help improve facility performance and save operational costs is a major boost to our value proposition,” states Aileen Neoh, founder and CEO of AECUS. Aileen has vast experience in the FM space and has worked with Johnson Controls and Sodexo before founding AECUS Consulting in 2016.
Back then, AECUS focused entirely on providing FM advisory services until a major telecommunications client approached the company over a year ago. The client, with no prior understanding of buildings and FM, was looking to venture into developing IoT-based smart building solutions and hence, sought AECUS’s help.
Based on What a Client's Desired Outcome is, we Design the Ecosystem of Hardware, Software, Cybersecurity, Connectivity & Cloud Solutions to be Implemented Along With the Actual Business Value that these Investments Would Deliver
“From their perspective, the client was keen on reselling various sensors and devices in the smart building solution space. However, I observed that those technologies did not quite resonate with the FM business requirements,” points Aileen. “That is when I realized that tech organizations find it challenging to comprehend the context of FM and how a building operates, while traditional FM players struggle to readily adopt new technologies. This gulf between current FM and modern technologies was a huge market opportunity, which led us to develop in-house tech capabilities, resulting in our company’s rebranding from AECUS Consulting to AECUS Asia.”
AECUS’s background in FM consulting plays a vital role in precisely understanding clients’ unique challenges and goals. Working hand in hand with clients, AECUS first builds the most effective roadmap based on the problem statement, advises them on the technologies that they can optimally benefit from, and accordingly develops cost-effective solutions. “We approach clients’ requirements from a gap and value proposition perspective, determining what the actual necessary investments for a client are, educating them about various emerging technologies, and demonstrating how these technologies can add value not only to their buildings and facilities but also the occupants,” remarks Allan Neoh, CTO at AECUS.
Case in point, a client was seeking to install cameras and video analytics to understand the employee footfall in their office space. However, this would have required significant hardware and infrastructure investment. AECUS instead recommended a lower-tech solution that could leverage the client’s existing infrastructure. “Not every problem needs a sophisticated or high tech solution. And that is how we engage with clients—based on what their desired outcome is, we design the ecosystem of hardware, software, cybersecurity, connectivity & cloud solutions to be installed along with the actual business value that these investments would deliver. We also ensure flexibility and maintainability of the IoT ecosystem to enable client future proofing,” says Aileen. AECUS offers end-to-end service from validating smart solutions and selecting the right combination of sensors and platform to seamlessly integrating them with existing building and FM systems and processes.
ADAM: AI, Analytics, and Forecasting
The common value proposition is the use of IoT sensors to generate large amounts of data. As opposed to most companies that merely collect data, provide a visualization dashboard, and require clients to make sense of it, AECUS takes it a step further with its ADAM AI platform, which analyzes the sensor data and delivers actionable insights. ADAM consolidates data from IoT sensors, weather forecasts, and every other data source, interprets it using built-in analytics, and automatically provides facility managers with recommendations about predictive maintenance, energy savings, space optimization, and more. “We also concentrate on thoroughly understanding clients’ business activities and operations, which helps us build context around the data that ADAM collects, and in turn, garner more meaningful insights.,” adds Aileen.
ADAM does not stop at just analyzing data and providing insights, but employs automation technologies to enable human-to-human and human-to-system interactions with regard to operations within a building. It automatically feeds information and updates to facility managers, thus simplifying an otherwise cumbersome process that typically relies solely on human inspection.
In addition, ADAM’s enterprise-grade security, bolstered by robust identity and access management, guarantees that the data gathered from sensors is not misused. “AECUS is also in the process of implementing threat detection, prevention and, management to closely monitor our endpoints, systems, and the ADAM platform itself. This 360 strategy ensures a holistic and comprehensive approach to our commitment to cybersecurity,” explains Allan.
Innovation, Partnerships, and the Road Ahead
Another piece of AI that AECUS is currently working on involves correlating multiple pieces of sensor data around a single problem. Each machine part has a distinct shelf life; every time a machine behaves abnormally, it is crucial to determine the exact cause of failure. ADAM studies the behavior of all kinds of equipment to understand their normal and abnormal behavior with respect to different physical conditions. This enables facility managers to apply a more concise and effective approach to maintaining equipment. “We can also predict the rate of deterioration or potential failure for the equipment as well as detect an already occurring malfunction, which the facility manager might have failed to notice,” adds Allan.
"We are Empowering Clients with the Ability to Evaluate their Equipment Performance in Real Time Based on AI and Predictive Analytics"
Although AECUS partners with a number of sensor makers around the world, the company’s platform, ADAM, can also integrate with clients’ existing sensors that are not manufactured by any of these partners. More importantly, AECUS does not offer a preconceived solution to clients but develops a custom solution based on their unique needs, making ADAM a highly scalable, flexible, and extensible platform. Additional digital applications of Health & Safety and Asset Management are also being integrated into ADAM, consolidating the functions and data for ease of use by the facility managers. “We provide a platform that we can bring to bear—accommodating all kinds of client requests and delivering results without requiring facility managers to figure out anything on their own. It bridges the gap between figuring out your pain points, devising a strategy to solve them, and also the value you get in return,” points Allan. To continually boost its capabilities, AECUS engages with researchers and innovators, working with them to curate or tweak their novel technologies and utilize them for various business requirements in the FM space.
AECUS’s clients range from fast food outlets and franchises to gas stations and hospitals, and they have been successful in scaling their technology across verticals and crossing borders with their clients. “We constantly endeavor to allow facility managers to interact with smart technologies using their mobile phones and immediately respond to the insights gained. Given my manufacturing background, I always emphasize the need for actionable outcomes, which separates us from our competitors,” states Allan. AECUS now looks forward to establishing its presence in Southeast Asia, with immediate plans of expanding into Malaysia, followed by Indonesia ,Philippines and Thailand.
August 12, 2019