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Wireless Controls Making Gains


When AWeber Email Marketing moved its headquarters from leased space into its own facility in December 2012, it was ready to pursue any innovation to manage the facility the way it wanted, says Mike Flanagan, senior facility manager. "Every innovation we could put into the building, we tried," he says.

Wireless access into the building automation, security, and lighting systems through WiFi is a major part of that strategy, allowing Flanagan's team the ability to troubleshoot devices on the fly with a laptop. But wireless controls at the system level also play a big part. For example, the lighting system uses occupancy sensors and daylight sensors, but Flanagan also has wireless sensors mounted directly on the windows which scan the amount of cloud cover every 15 minutes and, in conjunction with tracking the sun, control the window shades accordingly to get the maximum use of the available sunlight. This functionality would not have been feasible as a wired solution "because of the complexity of the wiring and too many connection points," he says.

For AWeber, pursuing wireless is in keeping with its ethos as a tech firm. But for more and more facilities, wireless systems and sensors are making sense, driven by evolving product offerings, and upfront cost savings. In fact, a recent study by Navigant Research predicts worldwide revenue from wireless nodes for building controls to reach $434 million by 2023, up from $84.8 million in 2013. While some facility managers are hesitant about wireless systems, others are beginning to address their concerns and cut the cord.

If wireless is not quite ready for prime time at your facility, get ready because that time will come soon enough. "It's the wave of the future," says Michael Isenberg, senior associate, building mechanical systems, WSP. "Everything is going to be wireless before we know it."

This Quick Read comes from Naomi Millan, senior editor of Building Operating Management. She can be reached at naomi.millan@tradepress.com. Read more from her about wireless benefits, risks, and best practices.

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