How a Better User Experience Can Help Building Operators Drive Operational Efficiency

By Garry Kapoor, Lead User Experience Designer at Honeywell Connected Buildings

The workforce is changing in every industry, and building operations are no exception. Since the pandemic, the skilled trade industry has seen an imbalance in the number of building operators leaving the workforce and skilled trade employees entering the field. This trend is expected to continue as baby boomers exit the labor force.

 As younger people enter the industry, they’ll bring with them a natural affinity for technology, along with an expectation for intuitive and effective user experiences that provide them with instant access to information.

A user-friendly building-management system with an effective user experience (UX) delivers what the next generation of operators expects – cutting-edge technology that enables them to take immediate, informed actions without going through months of training to understand how a particular application or system works.

At its core, good UX delivers clear insights and enhances effectiveness, allowing building operators to concentrate on higher-level tasks and initiatives. It can also streamline interoperability between systems, ease workflow across all applications running a building and ultimately enable greater operational efficiency, comfort and satisfied occupants.

UX in action

Maintaining a comfortable and efficient building involves integrating and managing countless applications and assets. To do it all, building operators need insight into every asset, from lighting to fire safety systems. Every building is unique and generates massive amounts of highly fragmented data.

But how do operators get access to all this data? And once they get it, what do they do with it?

One solution to all these challenges is Honeywell Forge for Buildings. It’s designed to enable building owners and operators to readily access the diverse data in their buildings, third-party devices, or third-party applications through a single, consolidated platform, which turns that data into insights and actions and provides you contextual information to make better decisions.

That’s the beauty of a good UX. It enables operators to make better decisions at the asset level, building level or across an entire portfolio – and do it all from one location.

Honeywell Forge helps enable quick and easy building fixes

Why does UX particularly matter when operating a portfolio of buildings? UX offers valuable insights to building operators or portfolio managers to understand what their operations, energy consumption or carbon emissions are across their portfolio.

A good UX, like the one offered by Honeywell Forge for Buildings, brings the insights needed to help operators and portfolio managers identify which parts of a building are not performing as expected.

For example, a particular floor inside a building may consume 30% more energy or emit more carbon than other floors. Having this type of insight can help operators investigate and resolve the problem, which can have an impact on energy savings, the cost-effectiveness of building operations, and sustainability goals.

Obtaining this data doesn’t require a lot of technical know-how. Using a solution like Honeywell Forge for Buildings, operators can gain insights into what’s happening inside their building’s ecosystem and even drill down into the energy usage of various assets without navigating through multiple disparate applications, leading to greater operational efficiency. Leveraging this technology can also help building operators lower energy costs by observing trends over time; reduce downtime; and create a longer asset lifecycle.

Three key tips for building operators looking to leverage UX to enhance operational efficiency:

  1. Automate operations. Some buildings need to run 24/7, others need to run on a 9-to-5 weekday schedule, and some need to adjust their operating schedules constantly. Without automation, it’s possible that your building is running when it shouldn’t be and not running when it should be, leading to unnecessary energy consumption and additional wear and tear on your assets. By automating your operations, you can avoid these issues and ensure that your assets work as they should.
  2. Understand the lifecycle of assets. You don’t want downtime in your building because you lack insight into the status of your assets and are unaware of which assets are causing problems.  Having the proper technology can help you gain clear insight into asset performance and highlight critical issues, and Honeywell Forge for Buildings establishes rules to identify assets that consume excessive energy. When an asset exceeds predefined thresholds, the solution issues an alert so the problem can be addressed right away, not when the next six-month check rolls around.
  3. Focus on energy consumption. A good UX platform will give you a better understanding of your building’s ongoing energy consumption and the ROI of the solutions you’ve deployed. The solution will help you track energy usage over time and evaluate the effectiveness of your building’s management solutions.

Finally, a good UX brings greater efficiency and economy to building operations. It enables users to effectively address all the problems they have to fix in the building. At Honeywell, we listen closely to our customers to understand their needs and tailor solutions to meet them. We configure the features and functions of the applications for optimal alignment with customer needs and help them achieve maximum operational efficiency.

The highlighted language here should be tweaked to address the reality of how the HFB solution works. To clarify, Honeywell Forge for Buildings is a pre-configured solution for business operations. It is not designed in accordance with the specifications of any single customer and not customized or tailor-made to suit preferences from customer to customer. Though there are different products and features of the HFB solution, all customers enjoy uniform features, depending on the product they purchased. The language should be tweaked to align with this reality.