Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) refers to the wireless, often interoperable network of devices used to automate, monitor or measure things within a build environment. Some use cases (programmable lights, for instance) are more straightforward than others, but there’s no denying the IIOT is reshaping the role of traditional Building Management Systems. Let’s explore these themes and what they mean for building owners and operators.
Easier Upgrades and Extensions
The wired BMS has drawn acclaim for its reliability, an especially important factor when it supports critical operations and infrastructures. (If your HVAC system can’t be controlled and your product freezes, that’s a costly error.) However, as wireless systems have improved in reliability and redundancies, the sturdiness of a BMS sheds light on a downside: inflexibility.
Battery-driven wireless sensors are inexpensive, independent and easy to install and maintain. Unlike wired infrastructure, modifying a network of wireless sensors is practical and expected, especially as new technologies and capabilities emerge. It also allows operators to add new sensors to the wireless network, allowing for more intelligent control based on any number of inputs (think scheduling, alerts or emergency shutdowns). Making changes and additions to the wired network is possible, but costly.
Traditional building management systems tend to focus on lighting and HVAC controls, but modern wireless sensors open up the possibilities for building managers. Things like facility or equipment health, security, hazard monitoring (i.e. fires or floods), waste management, etc. are now within the field of vision for operations staff. And it’s not simply the monitoring of these different elements which make IIOT attractive, but actions and safeguards can be pre-programmed to automate responses where needed.
Greater Utility Savings
Energy efficiency has long been a primary driver for BMS adoption, and IIOT technologies possess the ability to build upon this value proposition. More granular, real-time data and micro-zoning make system optimizations much more intelligent. For example: programming on/off-logic is terrific if the circumstances (internal and external) never change. But whenever there’s variability to schedules, external conditions, internal preferences or any other factors, having a system with decision logic can drive additional savings. Further, the user will now have an abundance of insights and analytics to review to determine if there are more structural concerns which need to be addressed, such as preventative maintenance needs.
Facility operators understand the importance of occupant health and well being. Indoor ambient conditions are obviously a well-considered aspect of EHS, but now wireless sensors can provide more robust insights to things such as air quality, lighting and humidity. Moreover, the systems may also track and analyze traffic and occupancy rates to help prioritize things such as workstation design or sanitation. For businesses looking to gain an edge, being able to promote the healthiest and most desirable physical workspace is a huge leg up.
The days of paying six figures for a system which automatically turns on and off your lights are coming to an end. Today’s IIOT tools deliver greater and more economical opportunities for energy efficiency, facility management and employee/occupant experience while promising a more future-proof foundation upon which the latest technologies can be added.