Maintenance, monitoring, energy efficiency: today we talk with Davide Ariata of Garc Ambiente SpA

For us at GFM Group, doing business means building partnerships, working side by side, finding with customers the best solutions to their specific needs. And we are pleased to host them to have a chat about the issues of greatest common relevance.
We begin this interview series by meeting Davide Ariata of GARC Ambiente SpA SB, a GARC Group company that offers innovative services for CO2 reduction through material recovery, circular economy and energy efficiency.
In the energy field, Garc Ambiente specializes in maintaining and improving the efficiency of industrial plants. It provides services that include the installation, maintenance, and operation of photovoltaic systems and also performs targeted revamping of existing plants in order to optimize and increase their energy performance.

Let's start from our first meeting

I can still remember when we started working together: it was 2007 and I was working in Coster T.E., a company that deals with temperature control controllers. We were using your remote management system to go and read data about energy and regulation of thermal systems.

In fact, even then there were quite important projects...

Sure. The first one that comes to mind is for Iren in Reggio Emilia, where we went to the GFM Group platform to collect consumption data from their meters. Or in Legnano, with the company that managed the data collected by Coster regulators, when we did an audit of the energy performance of the plants to go and highlight where there was optimal regulation and where there was waste. Even then the goal was to intervene to make the regulation perform better, have good comfort and adequate consumption.

We have seen that there is a clear advantage in combining software solutions with thermoregulation, achieving optimization of consumption and reduction of environmental impact...

Yes, it's really critical to have platforms allowing more precise analysis of the data collected: it's not just about having the macro data, it's about having the ability to go into the specifics, with greater granularity, of the thermal and electrical energy data.

Let's come to today and the software solution we have implemented for maintenance operations...

Together we are pursuing a Proof of Concept (POC) to geolocate maintenance assets and detection sensors within a building's digital twin to ensure digitized-dynamic and updated real-time control.
Just because we believe in it, we used BIM modeling technology to generate the digital twin of our headquarters in Carpi, which GFM integrated with its own software and made it dynamic and updated in real time, with all measurement data, both in the electrical and climatic parts.
Data arriving from electricity meters and in-room sensors that measure temperature, humidity, and CO2 are geo-referenced on the digital twin, allowing for energy trend, environmental comfort, and even predictive analyses regarding optimization of energy consumption useful for managing the entire life cycle of the work.

All this involves the use of machine learning algorithms to do predictive maintenance or to correlate energy consumption with weather forecasts and people's behavior in environments. What can you tell us from your experience?

The regulation and monitoring system, made by Enerbrain and accompanied by machine learning, allows the BMS (Building Management System) to adapt, making it faster in response, more suitable to what are the needs of the plant, precisely because it considers the loads of people within the environment, so it also works according to occupancy. Last but not least, it can use the weather forecast to adapt the settings to what are the changes in the climate in the following days. The response is faster, waste is avoided, and comfort is increased. In fact, all wasteful overadjustments are removed.

From your point of view, for a company that deals with construction/building maintenance, what is the importance of having a technology system integrator like GFM as a partner?

For us, it is fundamental, because it allows us to have a much simpler and direct interlocution with people who are technically prepared and who can quickly adapt a software or service to our needs. We have the possibility of having a single interface that collects data from multiple platforms, and this allows us to have a product that we can almost call "our own," a tailor-made quality product cut to our precise needs.

Going on a topic of general relevance: what do you think is the right time to introduce technological innovation in an all-too-traditional field like construction?

The time is: now! When we build, we have an advantage as we introduce something innovative in the projects, and this is not only in the structural and architectural part but also in the plant engineering part, so also in the regulation. Having partnerships with companies like GFM allows us to stand out from the rest of the market and have a better focus on the customer and propose solutions that will actually save energy not only at the beginning, but continuously over time. And then we are able to do predictive maintenance, going to see the decay of the efficiency of certain parts of the plant allows us to alert the customer of the real risk of a failure occurring and intervene before it happens with a repair or replacement of a machine. All with very different costs.

Does this also happen for photovoltaics?

Of course: customers who have a monitoring system are notified when any small problem arises. I would add that customers, when they do not want to put it in, can run into serious problems, with the risk of system downtime and the possible loss of many days of solar production as a result.

Let's talk about a topical issue: sustainability...

In the conferences I attend, I explain in a very simple way that energy conservation equals the elimination of waste. If we want to talk about sustainability, we have to start here. We have to remove overregulation and everything that is not strictly necessary. But this can't be done if you don't have the data in hand: if we don't measure something, we can't go and improve it.

Is this a feasible discourse in the domestic sphere, or is there a level of complexity that makes it impractical?

It takes the will to do it. Any control system that there may be in the home environment is certainly less complicated than using a cell phone. A user who knows how to use a cell phone is certainly able to go in and manage the heating system and the electrical system. In this area, too, the current evolution is to move toward photovoltaics, and here the approach needs to be changed: home appliances need to run during the day, when I have the most energy available! To get to this we need to promote a culture among citizens, do proper training, on all ages.

What perspective do you see for the future?

There is no other way but the way we are going: if I don't measure something, I have no objective data and therefore no tools to be able to improve it. If I don't have data, it's just my personal opinions. We need a lot of data and we need to have it in the right way. And then we need to use AI more and more to analyze KPIs more deeply and perform better.

Are you satisfied with the partnership that has been established with GFM?

In the relationship with GFM, I am struck by the speed with which the company puts ideas into practice: the right ideas are received and immediately implemented and made to work properly. And then it is a partner with an excellent in-house technical background, something that has also been noted by my colleagues. And that is why I have always maintained contact with GFM.