The performance of a building automation system can have a profound impact on its occupants and our environment and the businesses that depend on them.
Even as the Internet of Things (IoT) enables more individual devices to be monitored and controlled from a single station, the purpose of building automation systems has expanded from providing basic operation to creating high-performance buildings whose integrated technology can save energy, make maintenance easier and improve service to building occupants.
The management of a single building involves a complex web of essential systems and services: temperature controls, internal and external lighting, fire suppression, security, access control, video surveillance and power management. The monitoring and management of each of these building automation systems disciplines traditionally requires many specialized software applications that send and receive data to specific controllers, such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units, closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras or employee badge readers.
Integration for higher performance. Many custom integrations are needed to bring separate aspects together, or to add or upgrade controls. Somebody might have to build an adapter to support a proprietary protocol or design interfaces so different alarms and alerts make sense when viewed side by side. As sustainability and energy conservation goals are added, the system needs to not only maintain proper temperatures, but also optimize the performance of fans and chillers to reduce energy use or respond to weather changes. Creating high-performing buildings requires a holistic approach that can constantly evolve and adapt.
Taking into consideration all these complexities and requirements, Siemens Smart Infrastructure developed the Desigo CC integration platform. Desigo CC provides the software required to turn existing buildings into high-performing ones. Desigo CC makes it easy and cost-effective to integrate existing automation systems or add new ones using general programming expertise.
For example, facility managers can use classroom-scheduling software to predict when their rooms are occupied or unoccupied. With that information, 15 minutes before class starts, the system can automatically turn on the lights, unlock the doors, set the temperature, deactivate the motion detectors and do anything else to ensure the room is ready for occupancy. Then, 20 minutes after class is over, it can lock everything down again and go back into an energy-saving mode.
APIs for easy integration. This kind of integration was possible before, but it was hard. Siemens Desigo CC software makes it easy. Desigo CC software uses application programming interfaces (APIs) to retrieve classroom schedules, pull them into the automation system and then align the building control schedules with the classroom schedules. The same technique could be used for other situations. Facilities are starting to monitor electrical vehicle charging stations, for example, and adjust their operation during peak time when energy costs are high.
The more systems that are connected, the more efficiently a building can be run. Then there’s the lower cost of maintaining one software package instead of five or six: It’s cheaper to create and maintain one set of graphic floor plans, set up one remote notification scheme and maintain user accounts in just one application. Finally, a holistic view of all controls provides additional benefits. Users who can prioritize all the things going on in a building, discipline by discipline, can make sure the right things are getting attention in the right order.
“The Desigo CC building automation platform is used everywhere from a small office building and a K-12 school up to some of the largest university and hospital campuses,” said Rule. “In some cases, the platform allows users to connect multiple buildings located in different parts of the world back to a central management station.”