The Building Management Automation Environment

The Building Management System and the practice of building automation in the age of IoT.

By Xolani Zuma

Building management systems (BMS), also known as building automation systems (BAS), refer to computer-based control systems that can be installed in buildings to monitor and regulate the buildings electrical and mechanical equipment.

The role of the building management system has changed several times. Before the advent of IP, a BMS was typically a twisted pair of cable systems with relatively slow technologies such as Open Protocol Connectivity (OPC) used to connect systems to each other and share data. Today, we are experiencing once again – and maybe this time highly transformational – changes in the building management industry as a result of the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and cloud.

As the IoT movement gathers momentum, what impact will it have on the BMS world?

The easy answer to this question is: A huge one!

IoT is aligned with one of the biggest priorities of modern age facilities managers, that is Energy Management and Conservation. As such facilities managers are looking to increase the amount of automation their BMS can provide.

IoT.nxt offers building managers the ability to create interconnected and interoperable rule-based operations which benefit landlords and tenants alike.

When combined with a well-designed and executed solution, these technologies can address the following industry challenges:

  • Disparate building management systems make it impossible to fully and efficiently utilise existing infrastructure.
  • Modern methods and tools seem out of reach because legacy systems are entrenched and often proprietary.
  • Difficult to streamline processes to boost visitor management experiences and tenant comfort levels.

IoT.nxt and Dell technologies have combined to create an IoT solution that transforms buildings, creating horizontal interconnectivity using the IoT.nxt Raptor™ intelligent edge gateway and Commander platform visualisation dashboard, and Dell gateway hardware. This solution has the ability to integrate into all existing BMS systems, sensors and PLC’s. This technology-agnostic solution can be further enhanced by adding any new sensor technologies available.

IoT.nxt technology makes buildings smarter by creating real-time interconnectivity. The ability to harvest data gives us unprecedented views into the actual workings of the building with a view to accentuate and improve these workings- from automated parking to multi-modal client visitor experience to energy vs. occupancy savings and lighting comfort levels- we give occupants of a building the knowledge that they work in a first-class environment with the added benefit of lower carbon footprint and related cost savings.

The IoT.nxt solution enhances existing ecosystems and enables new or old buildings to experience powerful resurgence with compelling benefits:

  • Sensors to measure and control air quality, vibrations, temperature and humidity, parking spaces, occupancy in rooms, water usage, energy usage and HVAC are being developed at a rapid rate allowing building managers to get accurate data from the building on which decisions and processes can be efficiently improved on.
  • Modern technologies integrated into the IoT platform allows enhancement and new capabilities to legacy and dated systems. Raptor™ allows for the connection of any sensor or data point- wireless or wired- Analogue or Digital.
  • Knowing that all things are connected in the building and being able to create rules against which all things in the building operate is a great source of comfort for landlords and tenants alike.

Building Management Solution Diagram

Offering a solution that has the flexibility to work with existing devices and services, means the customer will derive immediate value. The following diagram illustrates how, correctly implemented, components of this solution can be used to unify an entire building- creating a SMART BUILDING. Our core digitisation technologies lay the foundation required for true transformation.

Open IoT and Digital Experience Platform Components

5 Steps: The path to success

1| Reimagining business processes

Applying business analytical best practice, consider current SOPs, process and workflows that are performed across your building to identify areas where standards and processes have not been optimised or where they can be enhanced.

  • Take existing technologies off the table and develop strategic intent- what is it you want to achieve at a high level?
  • Identify key areas of data collection.
  • Leverage automation and integration to create a fully interconnected and interoperable environment that supports precision practices.
  • Then re-look at existing technologies with a view to retrofit rather than rip and replace.
  • Ensure you are creating an environment that is NOT vendor locked in but rather agnostic to any new technologies that may be created in the future.

2| Avoiding an information overload

IoT should make it easier to operate based on data and rules. Having insight into down-the-line effects of activity may boost efficiency and the business bottom line. To ensure effectiveness, work to provide the right information to the right people to drive better decision making and improve employee accountability.

IoT Operational Transactional
Farming vehicle telematics and GPS positioning, Soil moisture and temperature sensors, Pump controls, dams and borehole monitoring and actuating, security, animal tracking (cows/sheep), people tracking, inhouse processing monitoring Routes, stop locations, appointment windows, vehicle ID, Geomap routes, animal temperature and location, relational data between soil moisture sensors and pump stations or pivot Work order processed, GRS processed. Trip start/end, stop start/end, miles driven, product loaded/unloaded. Position of load/unload.
Stock count automated, water levels
Vehicle CANbus, GPS, Temperature/ soil moisture sensors, Biometrics, gate/boom/nozzle relays, flowmeters, depth transducers, IoT.nxt Commander visualisation, ERP integration, Analytics Rules engine
Fleet management, asset management, ERP, Commander visualisation and control, analytics Agriculture management platform Rules engine

3| Ready, set, configure

Ruggedised to suit an industrial environment, designed to endure even the harshest condition and proven effective in the fields, the IoT.nxt technology stack is the answer to ensuring competitiveness, and relevance, in the years to come. Quick to install and easily customisable in any industry, an entire business ecosystem is connected into a centralised Commander dashboard and accessible remotely enabling real-time visibility and in-shift optimisation without disruption.

4| Connected your way, from edge to cloud

This flexible end-to-end solution connects non-IP based devices (2-wire and similar) through Raptor™, our intelligent edge gateway, and connecting IP enabled devices directly to our IoT platform, Commander. Once connected, data is consolidated from all devices and systems to provide a single horizontal view of your systems and devices entire business ecosystem.

Raptor™ technology creates a normalised, edge layer of physical and virtual intelligence that can be retrofitted, deployed and connected seamlessly into an ecosystem of existing technologies and things, radically reducing the cost of having to develop multiple edge integrations into disparate cloud applications.

Being able to retrofit onto all deployed devices, whether analogue-, or IP-based reduces:

  • disruption to business processes
  • cost of implementation
  • cost of training
  • cost and impact of enterprise-wide change management
  • vulnerability at the edge
  • technology disparity at the edge
  • data strain on – and therefore costs of – networks
  • processing required at the cloud platform level
  • cost of edge integrated gateway maintenance

Real-time subsystem integration allows cloud platforms to be leveraged as the up-, and downstream effects of an event-triggered occurrence are recalibrated throughout all edge-connected devices. The pieces of any business puzzle are in the box, and ready to be pieced together to create a big picture.

5| Operationalise and harvest the benefits

Switching IoT on in your building should not be daunting – by looking at the most obvious problems first (you know what they are) and tackling them one piece at a time gives you financial and operational safety, driving YOUR own objectives and allowing you to harvest the benefits of your digitalisation decisions. Get staff and tenants involved in the process and use a series of dashboards to show progress in what is iterative improvement based on real data, create a sense of pride in efforts being made to lower carbon footprint and improve staff and visitor experience.

An entire ecosystem, in your hands

Implemented anywhere, this solution becomes an enabler for optimal results across the rest of your business. Operational requirements tied in with big data and market shifts unlocks the opportunities for organisations to move into the future – and beyond – with agility, dynamically shifting with supply and demand, resource availability and, ultimately, growth. Watch it all from the palm of your hand.

Demystifying IoT

IoT.nxt is a unique rapid digitisation technology enabler that future-proofs enterprises, helping them leverage existing infrastructure investment and integrate into new technologies. The resulting interoperability and interconnectivity break down data silos and cuts out vendor lock-in.

Our IoT solution allows our clients to rapidly transform their businesses and move into the digital age quickly, and without disruption to operations.

Together with our solution partners, we work with businesses to design digitalisation strategies that are deployed in line with business goals, harnessing the magic that makes each organisation unique.

It’s still your business. Only better.

To learn more, email [email protected] to learn more about our ecosystem and to deploy this solution today.