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Customer Story

The PI System supports the missions of NASA, Harvard Medical School, and the NIH

NASA spacecraft
  • Challenge
    Research campuses have large numbers of assets with varying needs and the kind of work that requires precise monitoring and oversight.
  • Solution
    PI System components help with such tasks as gaining real-time data from meters and offering high visibility for researchers to monitor their rooms
  • Benefits
    Facilities are able to meet energy-reduction goals and are better able to control aspects of their experiments and research, as well as experience increased equipment reliability.

Research campuses imagine a future we can’t yet see, preparing astronauts for flight, or conquering diseases to save lives. They have important work to do—whether it is planning space missions, designing safer airplanes, or finding important cures. These campuses need equipment that operates safely and efficiently as the workers go about the work of serving humanity. But because of the work they do, these campuses present some of the biggest challenges in facilities management. Maintaining optimal conditions such as temperature, lighting, and energy usage can mitigate utilities costs, and might spell the difference between a failed experiment and/or new discoveries that can save lives. PI System components are advancing the work at the NASA Langley Research Center, Harvard Medical School, and the National Institutes of Health, helping improve efficiency and obtain real-time data.

The PI System is really at the heart of the actionable operational intelligence in our plant. We emphasize the actionable because if the data is really not actionable, then it’s not really so useful, so valuable, for us.
Eric Wisehart
Enterprise asset management administrator at NIH

NASA Langley Research Center

The NASA Langley Research Center comprises 130 buildings monitored by a mix of 400 metering devices. Previous solutions produced only time-consuming monthly energy usage reports, and the team saw meter data and insights long after problems arose. With lofty energy-reduction goals of 2.5% per year from 2015 until 2025, Langley needed real-time data from the meters to gain the right insights to quickly correct issues.

The team implemented the PI System as part of its energy-information system to improve meter-data quality, fill in data gaps, and easily run usage reports. “The beauty of this system is that you don’t have to have—I don’t have—an IT background,” said Todd Herbert, energy analyst at NASA Langley Research Center. “I’m not an engineer. I’m just a guy looking to find some data and solve some problems.”

With the stream of real-time data coming from the PI Server on a live dashboard display using PI ProcessBook and PI Vision, the team gets immediate consumption levels and meter-data quality. For example, by identifying that supplemental chillers weren’t properly turned off during the fall, Langley was able to save over 3,000 kilowatts per year in energy consumption. The insights from the PI System allowed the Langley team to quickly implement behavioral and maintenance changes that could help it meet energy goals.

Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School is not only one of the world’s premier medical schools, it is also a well-respected research center. The facilities-maintenance team must monitor all 33,000 assets every day of the week, including 20 buildings totaling 3 million square feet of wet lab, computational research, and educational infrastructure. Energy consumption has to stay within budget, and certain areas—especially those with animals or rare assets—have specific environmental requirements that can severely affect the outcomes of experiments and research.

The team implemented the PI System and used Asset Framework and PI Vision to monitor and control electric, steam, and chilled-water assets to prevent expensive overages during peak times. Later, it layered in a heat map that showed a pictorial view of current usage and any buildings running above or below prediction. The team took the implementation one step further to monitor individual research rooms, creating a web portal to give researchers access to room data. As a result of using the PI System, researchers are happier with the visibility it affords, and overall, Harvard Medical School has reduced energy usage by 15% since 2010.

The Pi System at Harvard Medical School DashboardAt Harvard Medical School, the PI System helps facilities managers monitor energy consumption and maintain environmental conditions, sometimes accessing data room by room.

National Institutes of Health

Reliability is crucial to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where the Central Utility Plant (CUP) operates the chiller, boiler, and co-generation plants that keep the facilities up and running. Using the PI System, CUP facilities managers collect 10.5 million data points per day. The real-time view of the entire plant is now visible from anywhere, giving managers insights into all facilities, all the time. Using Notifications, CUP team members receive emails or text messages when assets are performing outside of set parameters.

With this data, the team monitors asset conditions, performs predictive maintenance, and has created optimization algorithms for an emergency-response plan that provides operator training to optimize processes. Since 2013, despite increased energy demand, CUP has saved millions of dollars per year and has seen equipment reliability increase by 50%, leading to a 10-17% utility savings per year.

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