The challenges and opportunities of building automationThe automation of commercial premises offers many new possibilities for facilities management. With the evolution of building management systems, the supervisor has access to vast amounts of data about every aspect of the building environment. The BMS gives this building manager the ability to tailor the facilities to the exact needs of operations. With such levels of control come many opportunities, but some challenges need to be acknowledged too.
Challenges of building automationWhen exploring the potentials for building automation, it is easy to get excited. While we want to consider the opportunities, we also recognise that there are potential threats to be mitigated. Building automation means that all your devices and equipment are connected to your network and potentially also to the internet. This connectivity is the genius of the Internet of Things. Still, it also potentially opens the door to hackers who can access private data held on your network or wreak havoc on your automation protocols. BMS systems do not have to be connected to the internet to work within your site, so you can keep your building management as a closed system.
If you do connect to a wider network, as a consequence of this increased vulnerability, you need to treat each device on your network as a potential access point. Therefore, you need to build defences into each asset to ensure that it is tamper-proof. In short, you will need an end-to-end data privacy model.
As a result of the greater demands on security and maintenance, you also need to consider the cost of building automation. One of the reasons to move to an automated BMS is to save money, and we will explore how one of the opportunities of such a system is a return on investment. However, without a predict and prevent maintenance model, you may find the costs of your system increase, the more time passes. A good BMS vendor should offer training and support in the ongoing maintenance of the system so that it continues to be cost-effective.
Opportunities of building automationThe automation of your building offers many more opportunities than challenges. We have already hinted at the potential cost savings. A well maintained BMS can save you money on energy costs. With the rising price of utilities, the efficient use of energy in your building could be a significant saving.
However, automation of environmental controls in a commercial building can also improve productivity. A simple example would be temperature control during the hotter months. When people are too hot and uncomfortable, their output levels naturally drop. Where the air conditioning is centrally controlled with the use of sensors, your team will never have to experience the discomfort of a hot and humid workplace. Some automated buildings are also able to learn about the needs of the inhabitants and therefore adapt controls to usage.
The smart technologies also produce copious amounts of data that can be analysed to maximise the effectiveness of a building. Therefore, while automation takes the human element out of managing the environment, there is also the opportunity for partnership. The building supervisor can efficiently work to improve controls to maximise the balance between productivity and cost.
The bottom lineWhile security issues and maintenance costs are a genuine concern in BMS, the opportunities significantly outweigh the challenges. As with any technological advance, you need to be conscious of the potential abuses and misuses. However, with proper supervision, an automated building will be a productive building.
If you would like to discuss the challenges and opportunities of automation, contact our sales team today.