The Benefits of Systems Integration
In this article, originally sent as a three-part series, we’ll be discussing some of the benefits and challenges of implementing a new building systems management platform.
Constantly changing regulations and higher demands from tenants put a lot of pressure on building managers to improve overall efficiency. Whether you manage a large building or a small building, integrating your building automation system so that you can use a top-of-the-line facility management and maintenance software program has multiple benefits, including:
- Reduced downtime
- Real-time data that can help you make managerial decisions
- Increased productivity and employee retention
- Ability to control maintenance expenses
- Lower operating and utility costs
- Helps you optimize labor usage
Not only does integrating a building automation system help you lower costs and reduce downtime, but it makes future planning a lot easier. When you combine system data, your facility manager isn’t limited to analyzing data from one system at a time. Instead, they can access all of their data in one place, making maintenance decisions simpler and smarter.
One of the most important benefits of linking two systems is that it gives facility managers system capabilities that neither system offered on its own. For example, once your systems integration is complete, the fire alarm would trigger the HVAC system to control ventilation and smoke and the elevator system to either bring the cabs to the bottom floor or provide cabs for quick evacuation. Without an automated systems integration both of these components would need to be adjusted separately and manually.
Common Issues with Integration in Existing Buildings
Automation systems in older buildings often use proprietary or legacy network protocols, which need to be mitigated (migrated) to open protocols. Changing the system protocols is a necessary step. Unfortunately, it’s also a step that too often causes headaches. The good news is that as long as you have a detailed plan in place for each integration phase, you can work around even the toughest network protocol issues.
In addition to network protocol issues, some other common issues include:
- The original as-built drawings for the building may not be available
- It can be difficult to find existing cable pathways
- Organizational issues that involve coordinating facility management and the information technologies (IT) department
Keep in mind that while these issues are common, none of them should deter you from integrating your building’s systems. As long as you’re aware of problems you’re facing during the planning stage, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter any problems that can’t be resolved.
Creating a Plan for a Successful Integration
Now it’s time to discuss creating a plan for your successful integration.
Before you begin integrating your systems, it’s important that you gather all of the information you can find about your building’s existing systems. By the end of the process your facility manager needs to know the details of every system inside and out. Once you have all of the data in front of you, it’s easier to identify opportunities that provide additional functionality and automation. Some of the areas you should consider are:
- Setting up a system for off-hours activation
- Event scheduling management to control lighting, doors, and the HVAC system prior to scheduled events
- Setting the HVAC and lighting systems up so that they coincide with the amount of sunlight coming into the windows during the day
- Using a power monitoring and control system to provide data that triggers energy reduction sequences
With any building systems integration the ultimate goal is to have one database that links to other business systems and facility management systems. This way, one software platform is used by everyone, making everything more efficient. When you combine your building automation system and your facility management system, it also integrates data that’s used in accounting, budgeting, and purchasing, allowing you to access building automation functions, as well as the financial side of facility management in the same place.
There is no reason why an older building can’t reap the same benefits of newly constructed buildings. While it takes some time to plan and implement the transition, it doesn’t have to be difficult to integrate systems with an existing building. When you’re ready to cut your expenses and increase your productivity, contact Eagle Technology, Inc. for a no-obligation quote at 262-241-3845
Thanks so much for reading our email series Save Time and Money with Systems Integration.