Building and Campus Automation

Building automation is the automatic centralized control of a building's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, lighting and other systems through a Building Management System (BMS) or Building Automation System (BAS). The objectives of building automation are improved occupant comfort, efficient operation of building systems, and reduction in energy consumption and operating costs. A BAS should reduce building energy and maintenance costs compared to a non-controlled building. Most commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings built after 2000 include a BAS. Many older buildings have been retrofitted with a new BAS, typically financed through energy and insurance savings, and other savings associated with pre-emptive maintenance and fault detection.

Technology advancements in cloud-based building automation services and smartphone and tablet interfaces grant building owners an incredible degree of personalization in the way they interface with their building systems. Systems can be personalized on a wide scope such as turning off lights during unoccupied times, or on a smaller scope such as having specific room temperature settings for certain personnel.

The Connectivity Challenge

A key requirement for a BMS or BAS implementation is that various devices and subsystems used in the building to implement specific HVAC or lighting or security or metering functions need to be physically inter-networked and logically integrated into the centralized management system, and furthermore into the cloud for remote management. The challenge is that many devices or subsystems in the building speak different languages or “field" protocols that need to be translated into the management protocol used by the BMS/BAS.

Protocols are a set of standards/rules for data exchange within or between computers, networks, or programs. One can think of protocols as being different languages that machines use to communicate with one another.

Although it is common to connect Modbus to BACnet, the real world is a “protocol soup". For example, a building may have standardized on BACnet/IP or a JCI Metasys N2 based management, but may need to incorporate a heating subsystem based on LonWorks, a fire and gas detection subsystem based on Modbus, a metering subsystem based on M-BUS, a fire alarm control system based on the vendor's proprietary protocol, an event logger that speaks SNMP, and a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) that speaks Ethernet/IP. Furthermore, the facility manager may have a requirement to log critical alarms and data points in the cloud, and may want to use a modern standard like REST or JSON or XML to connect the building to the cloud in a secure manner.

The Need for Protocol Gateways

Facility managers can place the integration requirement either on their integrator or on their equipment and subsystem providers (the Original Equipment Manufacturer - the OEM). Integrators buy and use specialized protocol gateways to connect different best-of-breed devices and subsystems developed by OEMs to the centralized management system and the cloud. Alternately, the building specification can insist that every selected device or subsystem OEM must speak an agreed upon protocol in order to simplify the integration task. In this case, it is the OEM that has to effectively embed a protocol gateway inside their device to translate from their preferred protocol to the specified protocol. 

Additional Campus Automation Requirements

University, government, or business campuses are often complex organizations incorporating many different building controls that have been implemented independently. For example, a typical campus might have multiple types of fire alarm panels added over different periods of time. In addition, the buildings on a campus may range from a historical building to a modern biotechnology laboratory requiring vastly different control approaches. The campus facility manager is responsible for bringing the diverse products and subsystems into a common central building control system to monitor energy usage, maintain safety, and provide the necessary learning and working environment for the occupants.

BAS & BMS Integration

Modern building automation systems require the integration of many different components into a unified operational view that allows all of these devices to be managed through a single interface. Proper BAS and BMS integration allows facility managers to reduce operating costs, increase security, and achieve greater energy efficiency. This is integral to the creation of modern "smart" buildings.

Facility managers must be able to integrate their BAS into a single, common operational view that offers the capabilities to make critical control decisions that impact monitoring, security, and energy costs. An effective facility manager must have a BAS integration solution capable of analyzing multiple sources of data and providing collaboration between these sources. With Sierra Monitor's BAS/BMS integration solutions, you'll enjoy more efficient performance, simplified operations, and reduced energy and operating costs.

Our BAS and BMS integration solutions are scalable to your facility's needs now and in the future. BAS and BMS integration in a modern facility can include myriad systems, including lighting, elevator, boiler, chiller, fire alarms/suppression, access control, HVAC, and others. All of these systems may operate on different networks using different protocols: BACnet, Modbus, LonWorks, SNMP, etc. Effectively connecting these systems improves operational efficiency.

Key Components of BAS Integration

  • Web-Based Interface: Viewing and managing integrated systems is easier and more efficient with a familiar interface, such as a web browser. These platforms make them easy to scale as operations expand and the need to share data among users grows.
  • Open Data Communication: The sheer number of standard and obscure protocols in use today make the ability to provide open data communication essential for BAS integration. An effective solution will take control of the varying protocols, eliminate the need for multiple control consoles, and allow open communication between all devices, controllers, and sensors.
  • Reporting: The ability to quickly and easily configure, run, and distribute data reports is critical to effective BAS integration. Standard reports, such as energy consumption data, as well as reports customized to the user's requirements make it easy to deliver and share pertinent information.

Increased security concerns, steadily rising energy costs, and the continuing need for improved productivity have made building automation systems integration a necessity for modern facility managers. With Sierra Monitor's BAS integration solutions, you'll have a powerful, user-friendly tool with all the capabilities you need.

Benefits of BMS Integration

  • Automated monitoring and control through a single interface
  • Better control of HVAC for heating/cooling, potentially down to individual room control
  • Optimized energy efficiency, productivity, and performance
  • Improved plant reliability
  • Reduced maintenance time and cost
  • Flexibility to change with facility equipment upgrades and improvements
  • Central or remote control and monitoring capabilities

Products for Building and Campus Automation

Sierra Monitor's FieldServer protocol converters and gateways contain over 140 different protocols to enable interoperability between various devices, the BAS, and the cloud. Integrators value the flexibility and ease-of-use offered by the FieldServer protocol gateways because it allows them to complete their integration projects quickly and with low risk. OEMs embed the FieldServer protocol gateways with their products as it enables them to become “multi-protocol" aware (without increasing R&D costs), so they can bid on different project specifications

FieldServer Gateways

Additionally Sierra Monitor also offers its Sentry IT solution – a comprehensive Nationally Recognized Testing Lab (NRTL) approved gas detection system suitable for large campuses. Sentry IT detectors and controllers offer the industry's best Return on Investment (ROI) to the facility manager through innovations that minimize installation, commissioning, calibration, and life cycle maintenance costs. Moreover, the Sierra Monitor products are more analytics capable and integration-friendly than alternate solutions.  

Gas Detectors

Fire and Gas Detection Controllers