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June 20, 2013 -
Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from Rita Tatum, contributing editor for the magazine: With widespread use of interoperable protocols, building automation and energy management systems connect better with each other and with enterprise systems.
Not that many years ago, marketing for building automation systems and energy management systems (BAS/EMS) focused on which interoperable protocols was being used. That debate seems to have ended. Major manufacturers today offer open protocol products. Commonly used protocols include BACnet, LonMark, and Modbus.
"Flexible middleware appliances and software platforms are equally adept at all common protocols," says Robert G. Knight, senior associate with Environmental Systems Design. "The focus shifted rapidly from 'Which one will win?' to 'What's the best fit for this application?' and 'Which contractor do I prefer for this project?'"
In addition, modern BAS/EMS systems are relatively easy to install. "The average mechanical contractor can pull off multi-protocol integrations without too much trouble," says Knight. As a result, system integration leaders are bundling "best-of-breed software enhancements as a standard offering," Knight says.
Today's BAS/EMS connect better, not only with each other, but also with other enterprise systems.
Jim Sinopoli, managing principal, Smart Buildings, sees more software that creates standardized databases so the BAS/EMS merges into an enterprise-wide network. "Smaller to medium size companies, often regional control companies, are creating this software, which goes way beyond traditional EMS," he says.
What's more, "islands" of facility data are now being connected. "We are quite pleased to see some very innovative software coming to market that bridges the gap between BIM, CMMS, asset management, document management and BAS," he says. "This is a real killer app and it certainly isn't anywhere near the mainstream yet. But we think this is what the future of building operations will look like."
Knight enjoys imagining how the silos of data from such diverse software applications would interoperate. "We think these systems will have a transformative effect on the entire life-cycle of managing a building," he says.