Crown Group |

Executive Summary

The Portfolio Operations Digital Strategy (PODS) delivered a superior digital strategy across the entire portfolio of built assets under operational control including serviced apartments, a conference centre and shopping centres. This project brings data from physical systems into the era of the internet of things (IoT) to improve operational management and control, driving automation of processes and action programs for efficiency, productivity and innovation across the entire organisation.

The overarching model provides a single-source-of-truth (SSOT) – a centralised data store fed by the Building Management Control System, plant, metering devices and consumer facing systems into the cloud for real-time, uninhibited access to information across the entire organisation.

An SSOT will enable Crown Group to realise a high level of technology infrastructure integration and automation, increased correlations and data access. These benefits will drive outcomes in operations, sustainability programs and initiatives, With the potential to be extended to finance and marketing sectors for a business wide operational strategy.

As the technology matures and achieves more widespread adoption into organisational roles and processes, the outcomes and value of the system, efficiencies, productivity and innovation will increase exponentially.

Location: Australia

Industry: Design & Infrastructure

Project value: 400k

crowngroup.com.au

Business Drivers

Technology is being used by the retail and property sector to increase value at a site and portfolio level by creating actionable insights into asset performance. Market leading retail property organisations are investing heavily to integrate data from all areas of business to make better decisions. For example, Scentre and Vicinity Groups are making significant investments to:

  • Provide access to information when and where it’s necessary.
  • Realise efficiency and productivity programs for increased profitability.
  • Engage consumers and mitigate the threat of online competitors such as Amazon.

Most notably, these outcomes are being achieved by:

  • Real-time operational monitoring for efficiency and productivity by automating processes such as preventative maintenance scheduling and peak demand management, amongst others.
  • Automation of mandatory and voluntary reporting requirements.
  • Program development technologies such as free Wi-Fi networks with apps to engage consumers, gather and mine data, to better devise marketing, retargeting, incentivisation programs, and realise new correlations for decision makers.

Integrated, asset-wide analytic capabilities and data driven decision making are what e-commerce businesses such as Amazon enjoy as standard. It enables them to achieve a competitive advantage over brick and mortar retailers. The underlying premise is quite simple: data stores that are segregated provide multiple and/or limited versions of the ‘truth’ and are not congruous with the provision of quality information necessary for decision making.

Industry best practise points to a technical model that can be adopted by Crown Group – one that divides between Operational Technology (OT or location services) and Information Technology (portfolio asset management). This architecture is otherwise referred to as a “Smart Building” or “Internet of Things” (IoT) building, but augments with business intelligence to provide a vendor agnostic platform.

We started by realising business outcomes through engagement and by providing requirements and specification for data acquisition to   various departments within Crown Group to gather their data requirements and formulate the overall digital strategy. The outcomes from the resulting specifications stipulated development the best-of-breed, open-standard technological solutions required to ensure freedom of choice in vendors, contractors and continual commissioning agents. This overarching process ensured that Crown Group are not locked into contractual agreements for access to information.

The initial roll-out was over base-level infrastructure deemed necessary to meet Crown Group’s Initial requirements – yet shall be scalable enabling strategic ops to freely add data from a single site to an entire property portfolio if necessary.

The infrastructure proposed will function to ‘future proof’ building assets by providing technology that is integrated, standardised and in-line with the competition. Thus, Crown Group will be well poised to gain advantage from the data it collects with a ‘do it once, do it right’ technology plan.

The data sources comply with existing mandatory and voluntary reporting requirements  and provide information to a broad range of internal and external stakeholders through customised dashboards and reports;  Centre Operations can be supplied with simple performance metrics, accounts payable can run reconciliations against a machine data source, while sustainability and regional operations can data mine for energy efficiency opportunities.

As more data sources are connected, the reporting and analytics capabilities will expand exponentially.  The commissioned documentation sets shall be maintained as a record of how the PODS data paths work in relation to the system architecture.

Business Drivers

Technology is being used by the retail and property sector to increase value at a site and portfolio level by creating actionable insights into asset performance. Market leading retail property organisations are investing heavily to integrate data from all areas of business to make better decisions. For example, Scentre and Vicinity Groups are making significant investments to:

  • Provide access to information when and where it’s necessary.
  • Realise efficiency and productivity programs for increased profitability.
  • Engage consumers and mitigate the threat of online competitors such as Amazon.

Most notably, these outcomes are being achieved by:

  • Real-time operational monitoring for efficiency and productivity by automating processes such as preventative maintenance scheduling and peak demand management, amongst others.
  • Automation of mandatory and voluntary reporting requirements.
  • Program development technologies such as free Wi-Fi networks with apps to engage consumers, gather and mine data, to better devise marketing, retargeting, incentivisation programs, and realise new correlations for decision makers.

Integrated, asset-wide analytic capabilities and data driven decision making are what e-commerce businesses such as Amazon enjoy as standard. It enables them to achieve a competitive advantage over brick and mortar retailers. The underlying premise is quite simple: data stores that are segregated provide multiple and/or limited versions of the ‘truth’ and are not congruous with the provision of quality information necessary for decision making.

Industry best practise points to a technical model that can be adopted by Crown Group – one that divides between Operational Technology (OT or location services) and Information Technology (portfolio asset management). This architecture is otherwise referred to as a “Smart Building” or “Internet of Things” (IoT) building, but augments with business intelligence to provide a vendor agnostic platform.

We started by realising business outcomes through engagement and by providing requirements and specification for data acquisition to   various departments within Crown Group to gather their data requirements and formulate the overall digital strategy. The outcomes from the resulting specifications stipulated development the best-of-breed, open-standard technological solutions required to ensure freedom of choice in vendors, contractors and continual commissioning agents. This overarching process ensured that Crown Group are not locked into contractual agreements for access to information.

The initial roll-out was over base-level infrastructure deemed necessary to meet Crown Group’s Initial requirements – yet shall be scalable enabling strategic ops to freely add data from a single site to an entire property portfolio if necessary.

The infrastructure proposed will function to ‘future proof’ building assets by providing technology that is integrated, standardised and in-line with the competition. Thus, Crown Group will be well poised to gain advantage from the data it collects with a ‘do it once, do it right’ technology plan.

The data sources comply with existing mandatory and voluntary reporting requirements  and provide information to a broad range of internal and external stakeholders through customised dashboards and reports;  Centre Operations can be supplied with simple performance metrics, accounts payable can run reconciliations against a machine data source, while sustainability and regional operations can data mine for energy efficiency opportunities.

As more data sources are connected, the reporting and analytics capabilities will expand exponentially.  The commissioned documentation sets shall be maintained as a record of how the PODS data paths work in relation to the system architecture.

Building Shared Values

Consultation in quality technological systems - Identify value, ethos and culture necessary to drive efficiency and discover innovations

Requirements

The business case, stakeholder engagement sessions and functional requirements documentation mapped out the technical infrastructure and data paths necessary to facilitate a class-leading technology strategy. The appropriate infrastructure and vendor technologies to facilitate analytical dashboards had also been considered and evaluated. From this, the most mature and suitable platform was proposed to enable equitable access to information and value to the company.

Technical Overview

The Portfolio Operations Digital Strategy (PODS) project seeks to establish data paths from external and internal data sources through specification, development and maintenance of real-time MQTT based messaging, ELT programs and APIs.  Once data is structured into the overarching data model, the chosen reporting tool, Power BI, can be connected to the data sources for class-leading insights into operations and building performance across the Eastlakes site and eventually, the entire portfolio.

Reference system architecture:

  • At the centre of the OT architecture is the Building Management Control System (BMCS) which connects to real-world devices such as plant, metering and other equipment.
  • The BMCS has a local interface for the building manager to “tune” the building with the objective of reducing costs wherever possible.
  • The data is relayed into the cloud in real-time so analytics can be run centrally, reports created, and data can be accessed by the entire organization as well as outside experts.
  • The overarching system provides broader access to data for analysis of correlations and causation to be discovered resulting in consumption reduction and efficiency programs. Such as:
    • monitoring data and faults in real-time, deriving optimal thresholds for equipment and processes using artificial intelligence + machine learning algorithms to find and track energy efficiency opportunities,
    • monitor consumption and output of any given piece of plant and equipment to track efficiency and plan maintenance based on need.

OPTIMISING TECHNOLOGY

Develop organisational goals - translate problems into opportunities through technology to deliver value and return-on-investment

INTELLIGENCE IN BUSINESS

Turning data into knowledge at a building and portfolio level - provide business solutions that are specific and actionable

The Solution

At the centre of the IT architecture is the “data lake” – essentially, a giant storage of original unaltered source files and data. All data flows to the data lake – and from here, daily ‘snapshots’ of the data are taken into the “data warehouse” via a computer program that is labelled literally: Extract, Transform, Load (ETL or ELT). The ELT extracts data from source files, transforms it so comparisons can be made between disparate data sets, and places it into the data warehouse. This now ‘structured’ data can be used by anyone in the organization to run a report using drag and drop tools like Tableau or Microsoft Power BI:

  • Real time reporting – e.g. programmatic peak demand management and fault detection, alerts and alarms
  • Operational reports from internal sources;
    • Employee Log
    • Electricity Consumption
    • Electricity Peak Demand
    • Water Consumption Report
    • Gas Consumption Report
  • Invoice reporting from external sources;
    • Electricity
    • Gas
    • Refrigerants
    • Water
    • Waste
  • Sustainability and mandatory reporting;
    • NGERS Report
    • Scope-1 & 2 Emissions Data Requirements
    • NABERS Report (NABERS)
    • GRESB
    • GRESB Data Requirements

An asset register was developed as a central, user editable database that will be utilised to accurately reflect on-site operational plant and equipment as an SSOT. The information entered into the asset register provides crucial contextual and reference data for the PODS system to achieve quality data and reporting output requirements. It functions to allow reports to be generated displaying data correctly for each centre and the portfolio. The asset register user interface provides users a better understanding of operational technology by indicating the relationships between assets and acting as a repository for metadata.

The overarching intent of PODS is to develop an extensible data gathering framework to provide Crown Group consistent data gathering, analysis and reporting capability across all assets and business units.

Technological Capability

A SSOT will enable Crown Group to realise:

  • A high level of technology infrastructure integration – holistic data system that is vendor agnostic, eliminating the need for various vendor solutions and thereby reducing operational costs.
  • Increased correlations – reducing data siloing by distilling the many and varied data stores, formats and protocols into a unified system for advanced reporting and analysis.
  • Data access – retain ownership and control with real-time access to data at a single device level predicating up to the minute action programs such as demand response and customer-centric marketing programs.
  • A high level of automation that reduces the need for tedious aggregation tasks, data entry and manual labour, thereby reducing staffing costs.

Capability of fully integrated data systems have outcomes in many and varied business sectors, the most notable are outlined below.

Finance, bill validation and reconciliation tasks can be performed in an automated manner, providing resultant data on-demand to users. For example, cost and budget estimates can be automatically generated and used by both accounts payable and operations for reporting and managerial processes. Such as

  • Developing a universal journal for financial/controlling data.
  • On-the-fly aggregation of transactional tables.
  • Automation of central finance consolidation tasks.
  • Reduction of cycle-time for planning and consolidation.
  • More useful comparison between actuals and budget on consolidated levels by managing consolidation, planning and budgeting in one application.

Operations will benefit from access to real-time data from sensors, plant and equipment that will feed into an automated preventive maintenance and continual building commissioning regime – analytics and machine learning to drive building and operational efficiency. Such as:

  • Visual metrics that convey information effectively. Heat maps are a good example, where colour coding is added in a cross-tabular fashion, like a colour coded spreadsheet to help spot outliers and abnormal figures.
  • Ability to define drill-down options and analytical tools for individual KPIs.
  • Automate responses to drive action programs to events as they occur.
  • Analyse data in concert with other departments and systems for uninhibited cross-metrical analysis.

Sustainability reporting, such as GRESB and NABERS are mitigated as business overheads by having access to reportable information, gathered in an automated manner.  With such information at hand, lengthy delays and time-consuming manual data entry is avoided.

Marketing and management automation tasks can deliver location-based statistics, track customer dwell times, occupancy rates, network usage, loyalty points, event-based, traffic-based and rules-based promotions. Data streams can be correlated against footfall and tenant sales to realise the effectiveness of promotions and advertising spend, better understand consumer trends and help develop customer-centric infrastructure and programs.

Digitisation, integration into SSOT and automation of transaction and financial lease agreements enables commercial real estate businesses to track critical dates, perform valuations based on new lease accounting standards, and analyse leasing costs. Contract and lease administration integration with finance and operations will aid in understanding expenses and revenue. Leasing software can be integrated to effectively manage contractual relationships with property owners, tenants and service providers for capability in:

  • processing lease contracts,
  • advance payments,
  • service charge invoices,

rental payments, etc.As more organisational departments adopt the PODS, the value of the system will increase exponentially.

Future Proof

Realise capability & limit risk - Open source standardised technoloy solutions

Summary

We mapped out the technical infrastructure and data paths necessary to facilitate a superior technology strategy that can be used across the entire Crown portfolio. One that can accommodate any future developments. The appropriate infrastructure and vendor technologies to achieve the stated benefits have also been considered and evaluated, from this, the most mature and suitable platform was specified to enable equitable access to information and value to the company.

The technical specifications we developed enabled Crown Group to make a choice to take the overarching technology strategy to tender or to develop inhouse. The data architecture will bring Crown Group’s operational technology into the age of the internet-of-things and specify a framework for all future developments. An organisational roadmap functioned to address any gaps between skills and capability in line with organisational goals and ensure that the strategy becomes a reality.

As the technology matures and achieves more widespread adoption into organisational roles and processes, the outcomes and value of the system, efficiencies, productivity and innovation will increase exponentially.

Single Source of Truth
Future proof assets
Realise efficiencies
Discover innovations