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5G and Wi-Fi 6 will disrupt building automation system communication protocols

December 30, 2020  By  Anthony Capkun

December 30, 2020 – Open communication protocols help building automation systems provide better interoperability and connectivity among connected devices than proprietary protocols.

According to Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis “Advancements in communication protocols transforming building automation systems”, features such as scalability, networking flexibility, and interoperability offer smoother integration of third-party devices to the BAS network.

With multiple proprietary communication protocols, the lack of a common communication standard among devices and systems is one of the major challenges hampering market growth, notes F&S. Further, non-traditional building automation communication protocols are emerging due to the increase in IoT devices.

“5G and Wi-Fi 6 will have a major impact on the connectivity of building technologies, and are likely to accelerate the growth of IoT,” said Harikrishnan Manoharan, Frost & Sullivan. “5G can provide greater accessibility when managing buildings more remotely, and Wi-Fi 6 can provide faster data transfer speed between devices and enhance device performance at low energy utilization standards.”

Manoharan adds the emergence of IoT in BASs has “somewhat blurred the lines of traditional networking standards”. Protocols such as LoRaWan, MQTT, OPC-UA, and IQRF remove the need for all the IoT devices to be physically connected to the same network in the BAS, and “allow limitless connectivity and expansion scope”.

“One of the key communication trends in the industry is the ‘Everything over IP’ approach, which provides high levels of standardization, reliability, and availability in building automation communication standards,” Manoharan added. “Leading industry players are, therefore, working toward developing IP-based communication standards that can work alongside the existing communication standards.”

As an example, Manoharan points to initiatives such as Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP).

Ongoing smart building or green building development initiatives, and facility managers focusing on improving the tenant experience, are factors driving the adoption of emerging technologies, says the F&S analysis, adding that the following growth opportunities should also be considered:

• Building automation service providers need to consider IP-based communication standards as they help access multiple channels for communication.

• BAS suppliers and connected device manufacturers need to increasingly focus on enabling IP as the standardized communication protocol to improve interoperability between devices without complex and expensive gateways.

• New product innovation and integration should be leveraged to their full potential to introduce efficient products in the market and stay competitive.

• Considering the possibilities in emerging technologies, building automation suppliers must partner with reputed and reliable system integrators, and acquire innovative start-ups to bring best-in-class solutions to the BAS market.

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