How to Integrate a CMMS with Building Automation
Take your data management to the next level with these best practices for making sure all your facility management systems are working together in tandem.
Managers next can use data and workflows to promote CMMS use. Using a common CMMS database for asset information provides consistency between each database through a simple data download/upload process from the CMMS to the BAS or EMS. More sophisticated systems have advanced technology and processes to fully integrate CMMS and with the BAS and EMS to automate data transfer between each system.
Managers should establish a parent system indicating which system — typically, the CMMS — will control the asset management data and which system will provide the data to the parent system. The organization already is probably using modern technology, but it might not include full integration or even implementation of a BAS or EMS.
Depending on the manager’s role, the implementation or expansion of a CMMS can inherit challenges of coordinating this effort among departments and interested parties. Those most commonly involved include procurement, information technology, finance, accounting, vendors, and elected officials, with each looking from different viewpoints as to the need for investing in this system.
For organizations that do not have a BAS or EMS, the data a CMMS generates becomes available, providing additional information for data-driven decisions. For organizations that already use BAS or EMS and are advancing to system integration, the ability to see data real time enhances continued improvements.
Eventually, managers and technicians will come to rely on reports from the CMMS, and when the right reports are provided, they can enable quick decisions. For example, when technicians know the energy use of a building over time, they can better understand how the building is performing, and they can analyze seasonal use or compare it to industry benchmarks. Benchmarking and forecasting can become easier with CMMS integration because equipment runtime is more readily available, and they can generate an evaluation of the expected life of equipment.
When the CMMS is fully integrated with a BAS or EMS, data analysis can occur in real time, allowing measurement and reporting to the building component level. When one system can push or pull information between other integrated systems, operational consistency can occur.
CMMS and hardware coordination between systems could require manufacturer alliances and at the same time be a detriment if the CMMS developer fails to keep up. One capability of a CMMS’s internal programming allows data analysis to be performed while data validation is occurring.
A CMMS user can generate reports that include specific information. A frontline technician might be troubleshooting a piece of equipment and needs information from all three systems. Here, an automatically generated report on a defined frequency can help. An energy manager could be evaluating a building’s energy consumption and has modeled potential changes within the CMMS to generate return on investment and key performance indicators. Inputs from a BAS or EMS can help establish real-time trends about the equipment in order to maximize ROI.
Maximizing a CMMS also includes gathering data that a range of departments can use to get answers to their questions. A technician using the data for troubleshooting equipment might have to know specific information without working next to the equipment and with remote access to the right data, a solution might be found remotely.
Risk management might need to learn about the entire history of a building in order to evaluate the proper insurance coverage and at the same time audit the facility management program. Regardless of the user of the data, a CMMS’s capability to streamline processes and integrate advanced building systems provides an unlimited data collection and processing platform to continually improve building operations and management.
Investing in a CMMS is a significant expense, and developing the workforce to gain the knowledge and experience could require more time than expected. But once the organization makes the commitment, the speed of data flow often makes organizational leaders ask, “Why didn’t we implement this sooner?”
Rich Merrill, P.E., DBIA, FMP, is a project manager for Facility Engineering Associates. He has a background in municipal engineering, construction and facility management, and he provides solutions to maximize resources related to facility management programs.