How the IoT can keep your buildings more comfortable, cost-efficient, and secure

Sheila Kennedy explores the future of smart environment controls.

By Sheila Kennedy

Intelligent building systems and smart environment controls are among the greatest representations of the internet of things (IoT). Integrating all of the automated technologies used to manage temperature and humidity, light, water, energy, air quality, and motion in buildings allows owners and operators to reduce their operating costs and improve performance while enhancing the comfort and security of all occupants and lowering buildings’ carbon footprint. Following is a sampling of the enabling technologies and software.

Integration, automation, and control

Smart buildings allow for real-time monitoring of environmental conditions. The integrated building management platform Desigo CC from Siemens improves control of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, and shading. All disciplines can be accessed and managed remotely from any device, at any time from the single platform.

Tom Rule, business line manager at Siemens’ Building Technologies Division, says the Desigo CC building management station is an open integration platform built on proven SCADA technology. “With support for a broad range of open protocols including OPC, Modbus, BACnet, and SNMP, it can seamlessly integrate all of your building and industrial process controls into a single interface, giving you complete visibility and control of your entire facility,” Rule says.

The Metasys Building Automation System from Johnson Controls improves efficiency of industrial building energy management, including HVAC, lighting, security and protection systems in industrial spaces. Metasys provides a completely mobile-optimized interface that can be accessed from any phone, tablet or laptop.

“Metasys controls a variety of equipment types that serve very different spaces with very different comfort needs, from small packaged units controlling the office spaces to larger applied systems conditioning the manufacturing floor space,” says Mark Ziolkowski, director of building automation system product management at Johnson Controls. “Because it’s a distributed system, Metasys also supports a variety of networking and wiring options ideal for industrial spaces including serial-based wiring, IP/Ethernet-based wiring, wireless, or a mixture of all three.”

SmartStruxure from Schneider Electric supports centralized, automated control of power, lighting, electrical distribution, fire safety, and HVAC systems to create healthier, more-productive environments. SmartStruxure’s connected mobile technology, says Robert Hemmerdinger, director of business development for SmartStruxure at Schneider Electric, breaks down traditional information silos and delivers information and real-time data via web access, graphics, trend visualizations, rich reports, and mobile applications. This increases employee satisfaction, productivity, and real estate value, he says.

Advantech’s factory environmental monitoring solutions address water, temperature, humidity and air quality, the latter of which includes dust, gas, and carbon dioxide. The company’s latest product technology supports more interconnected and intelligent environmental control systems.

“Our WISE-4000 Ethernet-based wireless IoT devices are integrated with IoT data acquisition, processing, and publishing functions, and provide data pre-scaling, data logic, and data logger functions in just one device,” says Tom Wohlwender, product engineer at Advantech. “All of the data can be accessed via mobile devices and published to the cloud with security anytime, anywhere, in any type of environment.”

Condition monitoring software

Web-based energy and water monitoring software from Noveda Technologies is compatible with building automation systems, energy management systems, and utility meters. Noveda Technologies partners with a variety of platforms, including Siemens and Honeywell, to simplify the integration and ease of use of multiple building systems, enabling real-time oversight of electric, gas, steam, water, and oil sources in addition to heating and cooling systems.

“With the proliferation of IoT-enabled devices in the field, operators and decision-makers across the value chain need access to integrated and simplified intelligence that also enables collaboration and distributed decision-making in real time,” says Govi Rao, president and CEO of Noveda. “This will drive the need for interoperability of systems across industrial IoT platforms and devices.”

Extreme energy efficiency

Robotic automation product manufacturer FANUC takes an innovative approach to energy management. Some of its own automated factories are capable of operating for extended periods of time without lights, HVAC, or even personnel.

FANUC’s factories in Japan are among the world’s most highly automated “lights-out” manufacturing facilities, says Claude Dinsmoor, general manager of material handling at FANUC America. “For example,” he says, “the CNC factory has a capacity to produce a total of 25,000 CNCs and robot controllers each month.” Dinsmoor adds: “The automated lines utilize a large number of FANUC intelligent robots to robotize the operations that were previously manual.”