4 FM quick reads on Building automation
1. Evaluate How the BAS Will Connect With Other Systems
A building automation system does not exist in a vacuum. When deciding whether to install a new building automation system, it’s important to look at other building systems as well. For example, to take full advantage of the building automation system, the system will have to connect to HVAC systems. So check the controls on HVAC systems to ensure that they have the capabilities needed.
As with any powerful software system, it is essential to consider how information will be provided to a building automation system. Many facilities already have some form of building automation system. If that’s true, the facility executive will have to determine how useful maintenance and operation information will be transferred from the old system to the new one. In the best case, it will be possible to import the data automatically from the old system. Talk to the building automation system vendor to determine if it’s feasible to do that. The other route is manual data entry.
2. Facility Staff Essential to BAS Success
As important as hardware and software are to a building automation system, they aren’t the whole story. If the facility staff doesn’t have the proper qualifications and training, the best technology in the world won’t ensure long term success.
That’s why staffing should be considered during the planning process for installation of a building automation system. Ensure that the building automation system implementation plan includes sufficient time and money for training. That may be especially important for experienced facility staff members who have worked for years with old controls and are now being asked to make the transition to new technology.
That’s not to say that those veteran employees don’t have valuable knowledge. Their years of experience has often taught them invaluable lessons about how the building actually operates. Younger employees may adapt to new technology more quickly, but they can benefit from working with experienced staff to get a feel for the operational quirks of an individual building.
A properly trained staff offers facility executives flexibility. In one hospital, the building automation system plays a central role in the operational plan for the emergency power system. But because of the number of factors that have to be considered in implementing the plan, the hospital chose not to automate the process. Instead, the building automation system operator is responsible for getting input from key parties to determine how to proceed.
3. Interoperable Systems Work Together, but They're Not Plug and Play
I’m Ed Sullivan, editor of Building Operating Management magazine. Today’s topic is interoperable building automation systems.
Interoperability offers facility executives the flexibility to link products from different manufacturers. But even interoperable products and systems require engineering.
Interoperability enables systems from different manufacturers to work together. The reason that you can connect a printer from one manufacturer to a PC from another vendor is because they’re interoperable.
The same basic idea holds for building products and systems. If a chiller from one manufacturer is interoperable with the energy management system from another manufacturer, the two systems can readily be connected so that they can work together. There’s no need for a gateway or other extra software bridge between the two systems.
But that’s not to say the systems are “plug and play” the way that home computer or stereo systems are. Building control systems are far more complex than stereos or home computers and need to be properly designed and configured for a specific application.
4. What Interoperability Is and Isn’t
If two devices are interoperable, they can share information and commands without the need for a gateway or other special hardware or software to translate from one protocol to another.
But that doesn’t mean the devices are interchangeable. In other words, just because thermostats from two different manufacturers are interoperable, facility executives cannot simply replace one with another and expect the second to work exactly the way the first did.
For devices to be interchangeable, both the way protocols are implemented and the capabilities of devices would need to be standardized to a far greater extent than is currently the case.
If devices were interchangeable, facility executives would have far more freedom to mix and match devices from different manufacturers. But there would be fewer choices about features and the way those features are implemented.
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