THe changing shape of bms and the impact of iot

Brin Sheridan, Chief Operating Officer at Utilitywise PLC, one of the UK's largest and leading independent utility cost management companies comments on the changing shape of building management systems and the impact of IoT.

Buildings, by their very nature will incorporate a huge number of ‘systems’ that manage the daily operation of the facility. From lighting to BMS, to security to refrigeration, each of these systems run separately, all with individual licenses and agreements with the system providers. They are also all independently maintained and independently run – which is both costly and time consuming. 

This is where the era of Smart Buildings steps in, unlocking the closed protocols and bringing all the systems to a single platform with a single maintenance and licence plan. All costs for the individual licensees and maintenance from the number of equipment manufacturers becomes a thing of the past.

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 meaning 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. This is a Smart Building.

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 you cut wastage, reduce inefficiencies and lower your energy and water bills.

Improved maintenance

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. 

The Utilitywise IoT platform is ‘elastic’ in its configuration allowing the solution to grow as demand requires.  It features a linearly scalable big data storage platform, cutting edge analytics and reporting software utilising Microsoft Azure cloud services. 

At Utilitywise, we embrace IoT solutions that will work for both 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.

Connectivity, data and interconnected systems

IoT starts with connectivity, creates a platform for interconnectivity and facilitates an end goal of collecting and interpreting data. 

Installed within buildings, IoT solutions seamlessly connect to any number of devices and systems allowing vital information from the building systems to be collected and automatically delivered to a central database where the data from multiple sites and systems is processed, aggregated and analysed through the cloud based software suite; delivering remote validation on system operations, performance status and immediately issuing real-time alerts against operational issues. 

With multiple systems now connected through the IoT gateway, the IoT installation creates a platform for interconnectivity of building systems, resulting in harmonious operation and improved building and energy performance. 

Data visbility provides business with both energy and proactive maintenance savings

Data visibility is key to understanding how our buildings operate and IoT helps businesses do this.  For most businesses, building data is complex, difficult to access and building systems such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting and refrigeration as well as BMS, security and fire are rarely connected and always locked down through closed protocols; restricting access and connectivity to the data they hold.

IoT and cloud based software platforms not only bring visibility to this data but provide great insight into performance and operational activities allowing operators to know more about system failures and faults as they happen, predict downtime and provide informative data to field service engineers or onsite personnel to allow for quick rectification.

Changing the shape of building and system maintenance

Once systems are opened, individual licences eradicated and all devices communicate through a single IoT enabled gateway, the way the buildings and systems are maintained and operated changes. 

IoT facilitates the opportunity for remote data visibility and interconnected building systems, it is changing the way our clients handle their maintenance and service contracts.   Gone are the days of predictive planned maintenance, system and business downtime and multiple system maintenance/operators.  Welcome the age of remote and proactive system maintenance. Alerting operators of faults before they occur and enabling maintenance teams to rectify issues for business continuity.

While remote visibility allows for immediate awareness of system issues for pro-active resolution - improving the customer experience and vastly reducing costs – interconnected systems through the IoT controls hub eradicates the need for a number of service contracts and associated licences as the locked-down, closed-protocol BMS, HVAC&R and lighting systems for example are ‘opened-up’ by the IoT controls gateway.

IoT will allow businesses of all sizes to:

  • undertake demand side management activities saving kWh and £s/pence
  • opt into National Grid demand side management strategies as they develop
  • optimise building and equipment performance
  • reduce maintenance and service costs

In essence IoT is putting power back into the hands of the business owner whilst cutting costs and complexity from licences, multiple service providers and closed protocol systems.  The single gateway and single interface also means that systems work together in harmony; no more disparate systems and building operations.

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N.B. The information contained in this entry is provided by Utilitywise, and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

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