New Guide To Building Analytics Shows Power Of FDD

How leading facility teams are leveraging Fault Detection and Diagnostics (FDD) for more proactive maintenance.

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Fault Detection and Diagnostics

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Operations & Maintenance Best Practices Guide, the promised land of proactive maintenance could result in a reduction in maintenance costs of 30% and a 70% to 75% elimination of system breakdowns (a 10x return on investment!).

So, why isn’t everyone doing it? Well, it’s not easy. And that’s because we’re using the wrong tools.

A new 16-page white paper from Clockwork Analytics and Nexus Labs, the Building Analytics Comparison Guide, compares the range of tools available to Operations & Maintenance teams. On the spectrum of maintenance—from what is utilized by the most reactive teams to what is utilized by the most proactive teams—those tools look something like this:

Building Automation System alarms to fault detection to fault detection and diagnostics (FDD).

So, how can facility teams move beyond BAS alarms and achieve the holy grail of Fault Detection and Diagnostics?

Fault Detection and DiagnosticsMoving Beyond BAS Alarms

Alarms are most familiar—they come with every BAS. You get a popup that says, “Hot Space Temp” with a nice blinking red light on the front end. Frankly, they are not very effective at supporting the move from reactive to proactive. They provide very little actionable information and are usually only slightly less reactive than using no tool at all. Worst case, they get ignored. We’ve all seen the BAS with thousands of unacknowledged alarms. Even if you have done a lot of work to standardize alarms and deploy them to their fullest potential, the best case is that they’re a solid trigger for critical response and monitoring critical equipment.

Fault Detection And Diagnostics (FDD)

Making the jump to an optimized building with a proactive staff requires getting ahead of critical problems and going beyond them. Fault diagnostics means performing an in-depth analysis and pinpointing one or more root causes of problems, to the point where corrective action can be taken. The tool to help with that jump is analytics software with FDD capabilities. But not all FDD tools are created equal. There are actually two kinds of FDD software: those that stop at the first “D” (Detection) and those that go all the way to Diagnostics.

The Building Analytics Comparison Guide tells the story of that second “D” and why it’s so important. To illustrate the importance, the Guide uses an example that every facilities team knows well: a large air handling unit, AHU_03, experiencing several issues.


The paper also investigates the three main steps required fulfill the full potential of fault detection and diagnostics (FDD):

  1. Analysis Accuracy
    The system needs to understand the attributes of the system and contextualize each fault on the list. For example, if one fault identifies that an air flow or static pressure sensor is reading below its setpoint for an extended period of time, other faults should take that finding into account before they run.
  2. Automated Root Cause Analysis
    The second component of the diagnostic process is to automatically and dynamically determine one or more root causes at the heart of each fault analysis—boiled down to a few recommended actions.
  3. Automated Prioritization
    The third requirement for the jump from detection to diagnostics should automate that step by quantifying the impacts of each fault, including costs, energy, comfort, and maintenance impacts.

This transformation to proactive maintenance is no longer the “future.” It’s possible now with building analytics software. Building owners need FDD, not just FD. If you’re in the position of specifying or buying analytics software, you need to understand this distinction. Don’t ignore it, or you’re going to pay for it later.