A step towards smarter operations

With increased emphasis on making buildings greener, industry players are now investing heavily on technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), integrated building management and control system for making smart buildings smarter. There isn’t any one specific element that makes operations smoother, but a set of elements that need to be in place.

According to Ninad Deshpande, Head-Marketing, B&R Industrial Automation, occupied environment control, lighting, efficient movement of people such as escalators, elevators, safety of people are some of the factors necessary for smooth functioning of a building.

Smart homes: efficiency, comfort and convenience
Considering the current technology trends, the amount of ‘smartness’ quotient in a building determines its smooth functioning to a great extent, says Manoj Kodakkatery, Manager-Business Development, OMRON Electronics and Mechanical Components Business Division. He adds, “The smartness quotient is imparted by automation which basically comprises of an automatic centralised control acting as a nodal centre to manage the basic functions such as building’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting as well as other smaller yet important systems with an overarching goal to make it safer, convenient, energy efficient, cost efficient, comfortable and future ready for the residents to live in.”

Energy-efficient building
Rajesh Adhangale, BDM – Building Automation, BECKHOFF Automation Pvt Ltd, says, “Large amount of energy is consumed in residential, public, and commercial buildings where it is used for space heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting control, water heating, and refrigeration.”

Improving energy efficiency
• Improved design and using advanced construction techniques can introduce building energy efficiency codes during construction stage.
• Buildings can be made greener by continuous maintenance, upgrades and replacement of high energy-using equipment.
• By constantly monitoring, comparing and controlling energy use, analysing HVAC and lighting equipment data, buildings can be made greener.

Safe and secure building
Safety of buildings is the mainstay of people living there and must be attended to. Here are some ways to ensure better safety.

• Install motion detector lights and high-resolution security surveillance system.
• Install access control system within entrance or exit gates, premises and inside of the building thus granting access only to verified personnel.
• Install fire alarm and evacuation system.

Monitoring and control
“Maintenance, operations and monitoring of the work place is a key requirement for seamless business operations,” believes Rajat Bhambri, HOD, Building Automation Business, Delta Electronics India Pvt Ltd.

He adds, “Major factors that determine smart functioning of building includes proper monitoring and control of building managing its security and surveillance systems, measures to prevent any disaster like fire break, flood, etc.”

Proper cooling and ventilation system, efficient energy consumption, automatic lighting solutions, monitoring of electricity consumptions, noise and vibration control, checking on utility of equipment, among other features play a pivotal role in building operations.

Creating perfect places
“Buildings are far more than just four walls. They nurture the occupants and hence should be strong, aesthetically designed, safe and comfortable,” says Devidas Kulkarni, CEO – Building Technologies Division, Siemens Ltd.

When it comes to the functionality, there are four major aspects – safety and security of people and assets; comfortable environment; energy efficiency which would minimise operating costs; sustainability which would mitigate adverse environmental impact.

How building automation system works
Sensors and controllers
“We are moving to a connected world and want to access everything on our smart phones. This needs connectivity from the sensors and controllers to the internet in a secure manner. Edge computing provides the necessary connectivity and security demanded by building management system (BMS),” Deshpande says.

In addition, it acts as a final piece of hardware in the building before the data is moved to the cloud or internet. This is rather easier for greenfield buildings, but the question would be to leverage these benefits for brownfield buildings. Edge architectures from B&R not only make greenfield installations smart, but also make existing BMS smart. They provide greenfield benefits to brownfield buildings. To upgrade the existing buildings, the management does not need to invest in upgrading individual components but can have these edge devices in place to satisfy the new requirements.

A strong platform
A typical building automation system works as a controller of the vital facilities in a building like heating, air conditioning, ventilation, security, etc. It basically creates a strong platform where all these functions are collated and automated to deliver better efficiency, convenience, comfort, safety at a reduced cost.

“The key constituents of a building automation system comprise of sensors, controllers, output devices (such as relays), varied communication protocols and terminal Interfaces. All these components not only control the current functionalities but also render predictive maintenance which play a major role in making a building smarter, especially the sensors which form the bedrock of a building automation system by tracking and transmitting data on varied important factors such as temperature, humidity, level of lighting, human presence, to name just a few over to the controllers which in turn transmit it ahead in the cycle,” says Kodakkatery.

Maximum financial returns
According to Adhangale, “It is imperative to make the building energy efficient, safe and secure. This not only extends the life span of the building but also extracts maximum financial returns through energy savings and offers safe and secure environment to tenants.”

Traditional building automation system’s primary function is to monitor the parameters and provide the control in standalone mode.

Every building automation’s OEM has its own proprietary protocol and seamless integration with the central system is not possible. End user generally finds himself locked with proprietary hardware, software and mostly become dependent over the OEM and system installers.

In short, conventional building automation cannot be termed as intelligent and user-friendly and doesn’t yield maximum financial returns over a period of time.

“A complete set of building automation system is able to carry out smart decision making and independently control and program functions based on its intelligence. It is like a human body where sensors, controllers, communication and terminal interface are the sensory organs, providing control over heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting and other critical building systems. The system works behind the scenes with the primary goal of improving system efficiency, reduce costs and increase safety,“ says Bhambri.

The sensors take charge of detecting temperature, humidity, controlling the lighting level depending on the number of people in a room. The controllers collect data from the sensors and send commands to HVAC units, lighting systems, security alarms and other devices. Upon receiving the commands, actuators come to action and fulfil the command. The terminal interface helps user to monitor the conditions.

Awareness is must!
Building automation is the automatic centralised control of a building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning, lighting and other systems through a building management system. Many building owners are not aware of the amount of energy their buildings consume and most buildings in the world consume much more energy than necessary. Hence, the primary focus of building automation systems and solutions is for providing comfort, safety and energy efficiency.

How engineering and control of buildings be made more efficient
Edge controller from B&R
B&R has implemented edge architectures across various sites, either greenfield or brownfield, helping optimise operations and improving efficiency.

Edge controller from B&R, makes buildings smarter, incorporates energy monitoring and condition monitoring solutions in the same system. It is able to communicate on various protocols including BACnet and provide secure connectivity to the internet.

Deshpande says, “Today, we are witnessing an increased demand for edge solutions in the market. Monitoring assets in the building helps plan the maintenance of various assets before they fail and lead to a downtime. Monitoring energy helps in tracking energy consumption, making amends and optimising consumption. The energy could be in various forms helping the management to keep track of the costs and optimise it.”

Efficient communication protocol and proper IoT platform
Approximately 3 billion units of electricity are wasted in India in buildings. This can be reduced to a great extent by automation of buildings. Detecting the occupancy and detecting the status of environment and objects with the help of sensors, one can optimise lighting, heating, drying and cooling levels in a building.

Kodakkatery informs, “With an efficient communication protocol and proper IoT platform, the power consumption and comfort level can also be improved to a great extent. Not only this, day-to-day safety could go a sea change since there will be hardly any need for a person to come in contact directly to the switches and electrical equipment.”

Open protocols
Need of the hour is to provide a building automation system which works on open protocol and integrate different field buses like BACnet, Modbus, DALI, KNX, OPC etc.

Adhangale says, “Preferably modular system and capable enough to combine all the building services like HVAC, electrical, plumbing, fire alarm and evacuation, access control, CCTV surveillance, lighting control, and all the third party integrations onto a single platform thus providing seamless connectivity not only with central SCADA but also with the cloud services.”

New-age building automation system shall comprise not only building services but also various data logging applications, reporting applications, SMS or email and voice alarm applications and should comply to 21 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) used mainly in pharma industry. These services offer predictive maintenance schedule which alerts users to take care of wear and tear of equipment.

A building could be termed efficient on the back of the following factors:
• Embedded power management
• Integrated controls
• No or minimal emission of greenhouse gases
• Monitoring and surveillance
• Reduction in electricity consumption with proper monitoring.

Focus on making buildings efficient has led to adoption of newer engineering systems and solutions.

Bhambri states, “With rising awareness about building automation and sustainable efforts, Delta’s smart buildings can be achieved with optimal operation efficiency, comfort and energy savings.”

We are moving to a connected world and want to access everything on our smart phones.
Ninad Deshpande, Head- Marketing, B&R Industrial Automation

Key constituents of a building automation system comprise of sensors, controllers, output devices varied communication protocols and terminal interfaces.
Manoj Kodakkatery, Manager-Business Development, OMRON Electronics and Mechanical Components Business Division

Major factors that determine smart functioning of building include proper monitoring and control of building.
Rajat Bhambri, HOD, Building Automation Business, Delta Electronics India Pvt Ltd

One of the ways is to introduce building energy efficiency codes during construction stage.
Rajesh Adhangale, BDM – Building Automation, BECKHOFF Automation Pvt Ltd

High building performance levels combined with low operating costs allow customers to optimise energy costs and reliability of buildings.
Devidas Kulkarni, CEO – Building Technologies Division, Siemens Ltd

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