Operators’ work order descriptions in computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) represent an untapped opportunity to benchmark a facility’s maintenance and operation performance. However, it is challenging to carry out analytics on these large and amorphous databases. This paper puts forward a text-mining method to extract information about failure patterns in building systems and components from CMMS databases. The method is executed in three steps. Step 1 is pre-processing to convert work order descriptions into a mathematical form that lends itself to a quantitative lexical analysis. Step 2 is clustering to focus on interesting sections of a CMMS database that contain work orders about failures in building systems and components – rather than less interesting routine maintenance and inspection activities. Step 3 is association rule-mining to identify the coexistence tendencies among the terms of cluster of interest (e.g. coexistence of the terms ‘radiator’ and ‘leak’). This text-mining method is demonstrated by using two data sets. One data set was from a central heating and cooling plant with four boilers and five chillers; the other data set was from a cluster of 44 buildings. The results provide insights into per equipment breakdown of failure events, top system and component-level failure modes, and their occurrence frequencies.

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Keywords building operations, building performance, diagnostics, facilities management, fault detection, HVAC systems, maintenance, operator logbooks, text-mining
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2018.1459004
Journal Building Research and Information
Gunay, H.B, Shen, W. (Weiming), & Yang, C. (Chunsheng). (2018). Text-mining building maintenance work orders for component fault frequency. Building Research and Information, 1–16. doi:10.1080/09613218.2018.1459004