Precision Facility Diagnostics: Building Performance Management for Agriculture
November 22, 2023
David Norris

Precision Facility Diagnostics: Building Performance Management for Agricultural Operations

Precision Facility Diagnostics is a critical yet often overlooked aspect of sustainable, profitable operations in the animal husbandry and agricultural sectors. Such diagnostics conserve energy, cut costs, optimize animal welfare and production outcomes while efficiently utilizing resources to extend the lifespan of existing assets. As consumer preferences evolve to focus increasingly on emissions, animal welfare, and sustainable practices, the role of diagnostics in agricultural facilities has never been more pronounced. Precision Facility Diagnostics is critical for ensuring long-term brand viability and operational success.

Green Analytics is an experienced innovator with a proven track record in the use of technology-forward solutions to data gathering, aggregation, and analytics to diagnose and  address sustainability and operational challenges across an array of public and private sectors.

What is Precision Facility Diagnostics?

Simply put, Precision Facility Diagnostics is a proactive, data-driven approach to identify opportunities for emission and operating cost reductions while optimizing facility operations and internal environments. The approach empowers facility owners and operators to derive insights on maintenance practices, control and equipment interventions, and asset retrofit opportunities and to identify and eliminate inefficiencies in equipment and control systems. Additionally, an integrated Precision Facility Diagnostics platform provides an auditable record of internal environment conditions and energy emissions to meet the increasingly stringent requirements of supply chain purchasers and high-value markets.

Example Real-time Facility and Asset Management Dashboard

Implementation of a Precision Facility Diagnostics System: The specific needs and focus of a Precision Facility Diagnostics platform may vary from site to site according to the goals and challenges faced by owners and operators, facility operation type, and role the facility plays in a larger organization or supply chain. A good precision facility diagnostics system should be adaptable to the specific needs of a given site or organization but will include the components listed below.  

Assess Building Level Energy Consumption: All too often, multiple facilities share one utility meter on agricultural sites. This presents challenges for owners and operators as it is difficult to determine which facilities contribute the most to overall energy consumption and cost. This determination may be relatively simple to assume under ideal operating conditions but a lack of accurate building level measurement leads to issues with wasted energy and excess operational costs if control systems or equipment do not perform as expected. Low cost digital submeters can be installed at strategic locations within the site to accurately monitor building-level energy consumption and send the data to secure cloud platforms where owners can monitor consumption without the need to manually input data.

Benchmark Facility Energy Use Intensity: Normalizing facility energy use intensity by both building size and production outcomes empowers owners to make apples-to-apples comparisons between facilities of similar use both within their own portfolios and against regional industry averages or “benchmarks” for energy performance. These comparisons identify strong performers that can be used as replicable models for operational success as well as highlighting weaker facilities where further investment in energy efficiency initiatives is likely to yield the greatest returns.

Identify Equipment and Control System Retrofits: An onsite facility assessment and energy audit provides detailed, cost-effective strategies to reduce operational costs and energy emissions through control system interventions and equipment or facility retrofits. An energy model of the facility is developed to break out annual energy consumption by the major systems and equipment present in the facility. Various retrofit scenarios are then analyzed to determine the best options to achieve operational targets by balancing operational cost and emissions reduction potential against capital investment. A retrofit roadmap can be established where low cost, “low hanging fruit” interventions are implemented first and the savings used to invest in more capital-intensive interventions to achieve even greater long-term reductions in cost and emissions.

Circuit Level Energy Monitoring: Monitoring energy consumption on a building level provides key insights into overall facility performance but struggles to identify impending equipment maintenance issues or potential cost-saving control system adjustments on an ongoing basis. The use of circuit level energy monitoring on key systems and large equipment allows owners and operators to monitor both real-time equipment performance and trends over time, identifying issues in the early stages before they result in costly bills or potentially catastrophic failures.

Integrate Additional Data Points Through IoT Sensors: In agricultural facilities, energy use is only part of the equation for operational success. Modern Internet-of-Things (IoT) sensors and equipment provide access to more data than ever before available, allowing owners and operators to access real-time data on equipment performance, internal environmental conditions, and external factors impacting operations and costs. Precision Facility Diagnostics offers operators the ability to gain new actionable insights into their operations and acquire additional data points critical to operational success through the use of low cost, wireless IoT sensors in mission-critical areas.

Aggregate Data from all Sources for Holistic Facility Analysis: Each equipment system within an agricultural facility functions as part of a holistic mechanical ecosystem that keeps the facility running in optimal condition. The ability to aggregate data from various sources is key to maintaining operational control and managing costs and emissions against operational outcomes and production targets. Holistic facility data analysis and performance visualizations allow operators to identify previously hard-to-measure correlations between disparate factors and systems, unlocking previously hidden efficiency opportunities and providing greater insight into how to best manage buildings and their animal occupants.

Machine Learning Assisted Analytics for Data-Driven Insights: An ever-expanding pool of data provides challenges for manual monitoring and interpretation. Using proper data repository architecture, advanced algorithms, and machine learning technologies, Precision Facility Diagnostics automates data analysis to remove the time and expense associated with manual data analytics. This allows farmers and producers to spend their time doing what they do best, confident in the knowledge that insights and intervention recommendations are at their fingertips whenever needed.  

Digitize Asset Inventories and Auditable Records: Actionable insights are only part of the benefit to Precision Facility Diagnostics. A digital asset inventory allows operators to maintain up-to-date, accurate records of all equipment and sensors onsite, improving maintenance practices and reducing downtime. Exportable data records remove friction for brand claim validation, sustainability targets, and supply chain ESG reporting, providing auditable records for internal and third-party verification where required.

Green Analytics is a leader in the use of data, modelling, and analytics to solve sustainability challenges across a variety of sectors. Contact us today to discuss how the BarnSense Precision Facility Diagnostics platform can reduce costs, improve sustainability, and provide data-driven insights for your agricultural or animal husbandry facility management challenges.

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