4  FM quick reads on BAS

1. Integrate newest technology into BAS

Today's tip comes from Douglas Yon, Project Manager, Facility Engineering Associates. The newest BAS technology updates involve opening up control protocols, integration of intelligent and layered internet dashboard interfaces, cloud-hosted technologies, and wireless networks.

Some of the integration programs offer platform intelligence in conjunction with the existing building automation system, overseeing the activities of large single or multiple heating and/or cooling plants. Most of these systems are demand-oriented and follow pre-programmed performance and demand criteria. Other platforms operate purely as dashboards providing performance data, communication with remote sites, and offering limited master controls for multi-building sites.

Cloud-based building operations and efficiency programs provide an opportunity for facility managers to access to applications and data storage at hosted, third-party locations and not on end-user hardware.

Internet dashboard interfaces and cloud integration have provided new ways to connect with other building systems through the building automation system by facilitating the exchange and collection of BAS data. This connectivity allows building managers and operators to access, monitor, and control building systems. From a building automation system dashboard, potentially any number of buildings and systems, regardless of automation system sophistication, can be represented and accessed.

The most important way a building automation system can contribute to performance is through system optimization, in a way that is consistent with the established performance parameters. This is followed by monitoring the building systems, providing timely and accurate data, and critical alarms to the building operator or facility manager. Along a similar line would be using the building automation system for continuous commissioning.

Wireless Option for Building Management System Has Pros and Cons

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from Josh Thompson, of Point Source, LLC: Be familiar with both the pros and cons of wireless building management systems.

Here are

  1. Most BMS systems now afford integration with wireless solutions. Those that are not "native" to a certain technology can be translated with gateways that are readily available and affordable.
  2. Wireless devices allow BMS devices access to challenging and hazardous spaces, including historic/renovation spaces where cables simply cannot be used.
  3. Because there is no need to re-route cabling, there is flexibility in design and facility re-purposes.
  4. In deployment, wireless solutions are often less expensive than hardwired alternatives, particularly when the cost of conduit and copper are factored.
  5. Wireless systems are electrically isolated, making them immune to lightning or other electrical damage.
  6. When properly configured, wireless systems are more secure than a wired equivalent, both in terms of data security and protection from physical damage to infrastructures/cabling.

But beyond those benefits, there are other factors that must also be considered.
  • Wireless solutions require frequency planning coordination and potential IT coordination in design and integration.
  • The bandwidth of a wireless system is limited when compared to wired equivalents.
  • All wireless systems are subject to random interference, with no protection from future encroachment due to an unregulated spectrum.
  • Wireless solutions should never be deployed as part of a life-safety system.
  • Many require a consumable power source (batteries) which requires maintenance (at a cost) or line power, which defeats the benefit of using a wireless device; however, EnOcean devices do not require batteries. If you can get power to a location, you can generally get a signal wire there.
  • Not all spaces are accessible or are shielded from radio frequency transmission.
  • Many sensitive spaces and government facilities do not allow RF radiation of any kind.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.

Building Automation Systems Offer Real Time Data

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from Rita Tatum, contributing editor for the magazine: Thanks to advances in technology, building automation systems now offer real time data that can be of great value to facility managers.

In an economy built on speed and rapid response, real-time monitoring and Internet protocol (IP) capability are essential in a building automation system or energy management system (BAS/EMS). Alarms are faster and more detailed in today's systems. Knowing and being able to respond in seconds can correct potential problems before building occupants are aware anything's amiss.

"Using a Web-based protocol, the BAS/EMS lets the facility manager know what's happening in seconds,” says Jack Althoff, owner of ProJeX, Inc. "System reports are generated so quickly and so often that they can actually be used as measuring tools for performance.”

Precision real-time information is an important tool for facility managers looking to purchase energy at the lowest cost. "One motivator is being able to go to the energy market with solid usage data in real time so you can get better deals on energy,” says Jim Sinopoli, managing principal, Smart Buildings.

The real-time capability of newer building automation systems and energy management systems improve building management in multiple ways. For instance, real-time capability is beneficial for companies wanting to take advantage of utility pricing. They provide better time-of-day use data, which can allow the facility manager to budget utility costs more accurately. New building automation systems and energy management systems offer another advantage that makes real-time capability even more valuable: They allow easier network expansions, crucial in many companies that are using enterprise-wide management systems.

"If the building has tenant meters, it's easier to separate loads," says Althoff.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.

Analytics, Fault Detection Improve Building Automation Capabilities

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from Rita Tatum, contributing editor: Today, detailed analytics and fault detection systems are starting to offer the potential for improving the performance of building automation systems.

New technology starting to be deployed today offers the ability to predict when something is going wrong, before systems stop working altogether. "The BAS operator can't just keep his or her eye on the chiller and big air handling units anymore," says Robert G. Knight, senior associate with Environmental Systems Design. "Now, the facility manager's got fountain pumps and pool chemical controllers and kitchen grease precipitators, all revealing their every inner parameter to the network. So analytics are really becoming necessary to filter through that noise and help direct the operator's attention to the problem."

The diagnostics come in many capabilities and price ranges. One software application for HVAC systems uses fault-detection diagnostics (FDD). The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed FDD some years ago. The software evaluates equipment relationships, such as the chiller's connection to the air handler and the air handler's reliance on variable air volume devices, to diagnose a problem in performance. Using predictive analytics rules, the software analyzes and identifies faults or conditions where HVAC is not running optimally and alerts the BAS/EMS front end station.

"Some of this software really takes on not only DDCs but also systems normally considered outside BAS/EMS monitoring," says Jim Sinopoli, managing principal, Smart Buildings. "These systems are handling exterior shading, interior blinds and even seismic monitoring."

Analytics and fault detection and diagnostics capabilities are sometimes being offered within BAS/EMS applications themselves, and sometimes they are separate applications from companies that don't make BAS/EMS.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.


BAS , dashboard interface , wireless , cloud

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