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By Payman Farrokhyar
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As the BMS begins venturing beyond traditional spaces and integrating into other disparate systems, a greater demand is placed on creating and gathering more data. When layered within a server, this big data is only as useful as the insights or actionable measures it brings to attention. Making decisions based on data trends can truly make a difference in the management of systems. The challenge lies in doing this with the BMS, which is typically designed to command and control building systems while the data is being gathered. The BMS is valuable for running systems and alerting the operator of an emergency, but it is not ideal for taking a holistic approach toward proactive predictions. Enter the analytics platform, which can fill this void and support an ever-growing need and desire to leverage raw data for decision-making.The relationship between the BMS and the analytics platform can be compared to the relationship between a human being and a doctor. In this analogy, the overall facility is the human body, the brain system is the BMS, the spinal cord is the BMS backbone, and the devices and integrated systems are the nervous system. Humans maintain their health by taking vitamins, exercising regularly, and undergoing physicals once or twice a year. With facilities, the performance of preventive maintenance takes place either in-house or is contracted out to ensure that systems work correctly based on industry recommendations. In a perfect world, a doctor would know the body and make recommendations on exactly how many vitamins to take, what kind of exercise to perform, and what potential health issues may exist based on relevant data. Unfortunately, in reality this is not a luxury everyone can afford, nor are there enough doctors that could perform this kind of personal service. But for facilities, this is very possible.In the BMS world, this personal doctor is the analytics platform, with the ability to track and trend big data and analyze the behavior of the facilities. This “facilities doctor” measures the current state as a baseline and helps improve overall health and daily life through continuous improvements and recommendations. Similar to a doctor who has many patients and past experiences to make informed decisions to improve an individual’s overall health, analytics are able to make informed decisions based on systems of similar design and operational requirements. Analytics pinpoint problem areas before they occur, turning preventive maintenance into predictive maintenance and saving unnecessary time and resources spent fixing devices that may not need repair. The operating systems of both Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS platforms revolutionized how consumers use phones, which ultimately drove massive amounts of the business market away from Blackberry. Inevitably, the same consumers of these technologies will also drive change in what we consider standard building integrations, most commonly within facility environments where consumers work every day. Similar to the mobile industry, our industry is experiencing great innovation through disruption; and if we are not careful, the expertise behind how buildings work can go by the wayside. While controlling systems and trending data can help, the fundamentals of how HVAC systems operate remain equally important. Embracing and being part of the change can ensure that the shift in standards is done in the most efficient manner possible. So what are a few steps to begin preparing for the inevitable transition of the BMS to the world of the IoT and a focus on data-driven maintenance?
First, be sure you are trending data; and not just any or all, but rather the correct data that will be important in helping your current or future analytics platform make smarter recommendations or identify potential problem areas. This will allow your facilities staff to focus on problems before they arise, enhancing their productivity and enabling more care of your tenants. It is also valuable to become a partner with your IT department, and educate yourself on cyber security. The world has become more connected, for better or worse. According to the most recent Global State of Information Security Survey, “In 2015, there were 38 percent more security incidents detected than in 2014.” The age-old approach of IT adding the BMS system on a separate VLAN is quickly becoming extinct as we find ourselves integrating into more systems. Naturally, IT departments are becoming more curious about the facilities department. Engage them in the conversation to see what can be done to protect your building’s and occupants’ valuable data.Partner for IntegrationIt is important to find a credible partner for integration. Be wary of the marketing message when looking for a strong partner, and take the time for proper vetting. Ensuring you are equipped with the right product(s) is one challenge, but more important is the partner you select when researching options. Product-agnostic integrators guarantee an impartial recommendation on the product and approach for your technology needs.These are truly exciting times for our industry. Just a decade ago, the industry was dominated by a handful of players in a market handcuffed by proprietary systems. However, when competition is low and margins are high, why fix something that isn’t broken and risk opening a market to new competition? Today, technology integration and data analytics are embedded in our industry, and will only play a larger role in the years to come. There is no single event, person, or technology that drove this change. The evolution in our industry was a natural progression that aligns with the changes in our everyday lives. We look to technology to help solve our worldly challenges, and for our industry today that means technology integration and building analytics. Payman Farrokhyar serves as the vice president of Envise, a building systems integrator that helps building owners solve facility optimization challenges. He can be reached at PFarrokhyar@enviseco.com.
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