Building management evolutions in the age of IoT

July 12, 2018

The building management and building automation market is changing fast. Internet of Things  is impacting the industry with smart buildings as one of the fastest growing cross-industry IoT use cases. Buildings today are more connected than ever. It is not unusual to control temperature, lighting, and other mechanical components automatically or remotely. With the IoT making it possible to access data about everything from temperature to equipment effectiveness in real time, it is easier than ever to control and monitor a facility remotely. The data collected by the IoT allows facility management teams to be more effective in preventing maintenance issues and reduces the time spent on repairs and regular maintenance tasks.

DigiConsult help you understanding the accelerating role of IoT in intelligent building management

The Building Management badge is predominantly for system integrators and partner companies which have been working in the building management and building automation field. It is an evolving landscape, whereby the Internet of Things is a key game changer .Since the traditional main background is mechanical, they originally provided rather simple automation services for HVAC equipment such as boilers, air handling units, chillers and heat pumps in commercial buildings. Over the years their skillset moved from traditional HVAC controls and the understanding of essential thermal dynamics of creating heat or cooling in a building to more advanced skills.These include programming and networking skills at a proprietary level as the technology evolved to control systems and integration into third party systems, whereby they, for instance, acquired knowledge about how lighting systems and fire systems work and about security access control and video technology. Most BMS partners don’t install the latter but they are able to connect to them. However, this is changing too and that’s where the Internet of Things comes even more in the picture. Today they are looking at this new challenge and opportunity to move to a complete Internet Of Things approach which requires true open IP protocols connectivity and network design, using hubs.

IoT makes building management become more central 

So, today it has increasingly become a mixed environment in the ongoing integration of IT and OT, in this case in the BMS space, with the need to combine several skill sets for a more future-proof offering in times where IoT becomes more important.  The integration of IT and OT is indeed key. Once a challenge for partners is to understand how they can bring these two technologies together in order to create a building that will add value to the customer.

Interestingly, this convergence and integration, along with changing demands, is putting building management more central again. This is also related to the growing importance of energy in the whole commercial building management equation. In a sense, that also brings us back in time.

In the early days of building management, the systems were called building energy management systems . Then people started dropping the ‘E’ and talked about a building management system instead of an energy system. Later on, with the advent of the IT world of things, buildings were designed around the network connectivity.  If you combine those evolutions, the Internet of Things and IT networks, there is somewhat of a debate as to whether the full IT needs to remain independent from the BMS or whether the BMS is part of the IT system. As you can imagine, IT executives aren’t keen to have a BMS on the same bandwidth as the office network. These are the kind of challenges that show up and impact our BMS certification program. We also see an evolution happening in BMS and IoT with a shift to the edge and an impact on the thinking about the network. Intelligent building management and IoT – standards and protocols amidst the movement to the edge

 

 

While the network architecture did not change a lot, the use of hubs and/or switches entered into the BMS world.  Many saw this as an opportunity to move the BMS onto the already installed IT infrastructure of the building but due to the earlier mentioned concerns, there was a choice for separate networks.

The future is bright for the IoT

As costs come down, it will become easier to implement, and more companies will take advantage of the benefits it provides. As such, maintenance technicians will need to become more proficient in turning data into actionable insights, in addition to their current skills.

In the coming years, the IoT will become the norm, instead of the exception. As companies find ways to overcome cost, connectivity, and security barriers and gradually update their maintenance systems, it will be easier to implement the IoT in commercial buildings of all types.

 

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