Control & Automation
Integrated connected (IC) virtualization
I see virtualization as the next big thing. Through integrated connected virtualization, the world of large buildings will soon view everything connected differently. New web-based services architected in the cloud are the new business models evolving in the many articles and interviews in our AutomatedBuildings.com website.
By Ken Sinclair
We must unhinge our minds and find new pivot points from which to build our future. We must embrace the power of the cloud while increasing our comfort level in using the solutions within. Below are powerful words from our site to provide you insight into how folks are now thinking out loud about integrated connected virtualization.
Here is some wisdom from my columnist Toby who I respect immensely as a cloud consultant:
“Enterprise energy monitoring and building control, then, are in the low-lying cumulus clouds. A well architected system does not put the EMCS centre in the middle of any control loops. TCP/IP is by design a non-deterministic protocol, meaning it does not belong inside a control loop. Anything off the ground is in the clouds. Anything in the clouds should interact using internet protocols.
“Keep some clouds close to you, ones in which fast response and control are the most important. Let some clouds drift up into the atmosphere, not where forces out of your control may determine their performance and availability, but where superior resources or specialized knowledge can be purchased. And put services where enterprise identity and line-of-business interaction are the most important in the stratus layer.
To get information out of the cloud, artificial intelligence (A.I.) does the work of many, providing a deal maker and creating a differential in your business model. Cimetrics Inc., for example, provides high-value energy and facilities management services to owners and occupants of commercial, institutional and industrial buildings. Through its flagship Infometrics suite of products and services, the company collects real-time data from a customer’s building automation systems (i.e., HVAC, lighting, fire control, etc.), integrates information from multiple facilities, applies proprietary algorithms, and generates regular and highly detailed reports for the building owner’s facilities and energy departments.
Automated continuous commissioning
The process of collecting and mining data is the heart of automated continuous commissioning (ACC). ACC uses access to the existing building automation system (BAS) and data from traceable external sources (such as NOAA weather data) for this new class of analysis. The data is then used to create performance models of each piece of equipment to track actual (vs. design) operation. New techniques have emerged to create models that persistently predict actual performance within a 2% margin of error. By leveraging these models, building operators and facility managers have a powerful means to diagnose and control component and system faults and anomalies.
The level of granularity provided by an ACC system can identify anomalies that can be generally categorized into three basic groups: control, maintenance, and system performance degradation.
Connectivity of everything is a growing reality, and with each new connection comes new opportunities and new perspectives. Just as low-cost powerful connectivity is changing and actually simplifying our personal lives with internet extensions (i.e. “apps”) to our handheld devices, building automation is caught up in the same connectivity growth.
Using Real-time Data to Foster Behaviour Change
How do you maximize the value of your investment? How do you engage these audiences so that they directly experience, learn from and respond to the environmental consequences of your decisions? How do you make the invisible visible?
The operations centre is where technicians, engineers and management monitor, manage and troubleshoot issues. The operations centre monitors building performance, systems configurations, policy implementation, scheduling, report generation and documentation.
At the heart of an operations centre are the “human factors”. “Human factors” sounds like some mushy soft science, but it is a well-recognized scientific discipline called human factor engineering. It is utilized to address the environmental design of an operations centre, ergonomics, re-engineering of operational processes and the human interface to the technology. There is a tendency to focus on the technology in the operations centre rather than the human factors (who isn’t wowed by a video wall of high-def plasma displays?), however, the focus on the bells and whistles misses the underlying premise that technology is simply an enabler and should be used to change the behavior and operations of the people using it.
Why an Operations Center?
I C virtualization is the new medium but there are still those darn “human factors”. We always start with the premise that improved management of buildings requires improved monitoring of the building and building systems, (i.e. gathering data through sensors, meters, surveys and other means). This exponentially increases the volume of data available to building and facility managers. However, additional data does not necessarily provide “actionable information” that will result in improved operational performance. The continuing question is how to convert data into meaningful information that is contextual and actionable. The operations centre is an environment where meaningful information can be extracted and presented to produce a high level of situational awareness, align related work processes, minimize workload and errors, enhance task performance, and provide information and reporting tools required to manage the building’s operations.
Welcome to a changing world…virtually.
Ken Sinclair is the editor/owner of AutomatedBuildings.com.