Beyond BeMS solutions
The Internet of Things opens up whole new possibilities for managing all the systems associated with running a building. Brin Sheridan of Utilitywise comments on the changing shape of building-management systems and the impact of IoT.
Most buildings have a huge number of systems such as BMS, refrigeration, boilers, lighting, fire, and security - all purchased with licence and maintenance agreements from a wide number of system suppliers. This means that a single facilities manager or facilities-management company may operate all these devices for the building owner and operator but that there still remains the requirement for a number of licence and maintenance agreements — all adding to the cost of running a building. Coupled with the ever-increasing utilities costs, building operation is an expensive overhead on businesses of all shapes and sizes.
So, what if someone could wave a magic wand and reduce costs to operate a building? And remove the complexity of the multiple system operators, maintenance agreements and multiple licence fees? And do all this and reduce costs in your business utilities bills?
This is where the emergence and growing interest in IoT is having a significant impact on the building management, maintenance and energy industries. IoT is leading industry into a new world, where a single gateway can attach to the head-end of all these refrigeration, security, fire and BMS systems to bring all the data through a single point in the building and deliver it into a cloud-based software platform supported by big-data storage and analytics. This single gateway negates the need for multiple licences and maintenance agreements with each of the systems providers. It can open up your building — unlocking the previously ‘locked-down, closed-protocol’ devices and creating a truly connected building.
Connectivity is forefront, as it delivers a wealth of insights to enable building owners and operators to better understand system performance and use. Automation is key, and interlinking this with energy insights and utilities market movements means these connected systems can deliver utility cost savings.
Smart buildings are the future – but what are they?
A smart building is one which uses monitoring, targeting and sensor technology, consolidating the results into a single reporting platform that allows the building to work at its maximum efficiency, achieve maximum security and make for a more productive and comfortable working environment for its occupants. By understanding how a space is being used we can ensure it is being used most efficiently and effectively. Smart buildings allow this to happen through analysis and automation.
However, smart buildings come with a word of caution — and that is ‘consolidation’. Having every asset, every utility and movement monitored and measured does mean a lot of boxes and gadgets, or ‘gateways’ as they are known.
These gateways will all report data back to different platforms. That means you may get swamped in information — making the analysis of data, the assigning of tasks and the improvement of productivity very difficult indeed. Software, like Utility Insight, allows for the consolidation of these data sets into one, easy-to-understand platform. Smart buildings require a dynamic and adapting platform that works for the individuals needs, with analysis backed by actions and control.
The day is coming where whole buildings will be automated, from lights to HVAC. These are exciting times, when synchronised data and proactivity will dominate building services and design.
Internet of Things– the impact of IoT on Smart Buildings
IoT building-automation solutions connect Internet-enabled devices with powerful software to provide users with a more granular level of control over energy-consuming assets. Devices include heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), security, refrigeration and lighting, which have traditionally operated as standalone entities. Connecting disparate devices together in a single, intelligent system can provide significant cost and performance advantages over traditional Building Energy Management Systems (BeMS) solutions.
IoT is the network of physical objects — devices, vehicles, buildings and other items — embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data. IoT technology can instinctively adjust heating or turn off equipment automatically to help cut wastage, reduce inefficiencies and lower energy and water bills.
It cannot be denied that IoT is changing the way we connect with our smart buildings. The building management industry is on a path to converge with IT and with the rise of IoT, a world of opportunity has been opened up for the improved management and maintenance of building systems.
Where IoT becomes powerful is when it is linked with big-data analytical platforms which use processes to examine hidden patterns, unknown correlations, market trends, customer preferences and useful business information. It brings data to life via complex algorithms and rules-based analytics.
IoT solutions can work for micro businesses right up to large factories and buildings. Essentially IoT brings the BMS out of the basement, which makes it ideal for any size of business; it creates a positive impact on building performance, maintenance services and energy consumption while remaining focused on energy efficiency and cost reduction measures.
Brin Sheridan is chief operating officer at Utilitywise Plc.