Turning the Tables on BAS Movement

Turning the Tables on BAS Movement

Posted by: Steve Shaw | Posted on: Monday, June 18, 2018

How OEMs can use cloud connectivity and visibility for profit.

The rise of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has forced networking concepts like IP addressing, packet encryption, and BACnet protocols onto equipment manufacturers—folks far more accustomed to worrying about building the best boiler, HVAC, pump, or generator. 

If your products participate in a building automation system (BAS), you’ve figured out how to connect your equipment to a network. You might have done so grudgingly, because connectivity to a BAS has become table stakes for HVAC and other equipment sales. But what you might not realize is that your newfound connectivity also affords new revenue opportunities for you.

So You’re Connected. Now What?

You might be connected using Sierra Monitor’s FieldServer gateway (you plug your device into our gateway, which plugs into the BAS, and, voila – connectivity!).  Or you might have embedded BAS connectivity protocols, such as BACnet, directly into the control panels of your equipment yourself.

Either way, somebody else—the BAS supplier or the facilities or IT group at your customer’s company—is gaining control of your products, thanks to the connectivity you’ve provided. Because your product is networked, anyone can write software to control, manage, and analyze it, with bells and whistles that add value and increase margins for the BAS makers and earn revenues for the developers. But what’s in it for you?

It’s time for you to capitalize on that connectivity for your own profit. Revenue opportunities are coming your way largely thanks to that other big trend: cloud computing. You can use our FieldServer gateways to manage and monitor your devices through our SMC Cloud software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering.  Using the SMC Cloud, for example, you gain visibility of all your installed equipment across customer locations and geographies. Knowledge is power, and this puts you in a position to competitively step up customer service: if, for instance, you monitor your furnaces and see one failing, you can proactively notify the field service team and even get a replacement part or unit on its way ahead of a crisis.

Incremental Revenue-Building

How does this translate into predictable income? Perhaps a customer with a large, distributed installation of your gear purchases a monthly monitoring and troubleshooting subscription to help ensure that operations always remain smooth. So instead of just a one-time product sale, you now have a service sale to go along with it, with incremental revenue per device coming in every month.

Yes, BAS personnel also monitor the equipment in each of their customers’ buildings, including yours. In many organizations, the facilities network (usually running BACnet) is merging with the IT communications network (running IP communications protocols). So it’s not uncommon to see IT personnel attempting to manage your facilities devices, too.

But the intricacies of the facilities equipment you make are foreign to the BAS and IT folks tapping into your data. While they can detect issues with your equipment using data analytics, they really don’t know much, if anything, about how to fix your particular piece of equipment.

You’re the Expert

This is where you come in. You’re the expert, so you have unique value to bring to the IIoT table.

By getting data about all your equipment through the cloud and knowing what’s going on with it, you can compete more effectively. You can do alarming and notification throughout the field. You’ll learn when a particular piece of equipment is commissioned, because Sierra Monitor automatically gets notified when the device connects to the cloud. This is particularly helpful when it comes to managing customer licenses and warranties.

Your staff can remotely access a unit through our IIoT gateway to troubleshoot any issues throughout your widespread, cross-customer installation of equipment without leaving their desks. That allows you to service many of your customers from a desktop or mobile computer—without costly truck rolls.

The cloud service can gather all the statistical data analysis you want. You can pair that data with your favorite analytics system or application for views, trends, and alerts that make sense in the context of your business.

How You Use the Data: It’s All About ROI

The basic operation of your equipment can be handled by a relatively small data set.  But now it’s possible to also collect and store huge volumes of data so you can monitor trends and predict when things will happen. Now, this is a function you have to evaluate for its return on investment. For example, what’s cost of gathering, storing and analyzing trend data – of processing possibly terabits of data – compared the savings or incremental business revenue you can derive from the result you get?

How much data do you need to see, monitor, and act upon? That’s up to you, your equipment type, and your business plan. But thousands of data points are available to you for logging, alarming, notification, and analysis using your own system.

To help ensure you have the data points you need, Sierra Monitor offers basic cloud data storage included in the price of our FieldServer gateways.  For most monitoring services, there is no additional charge to you, the equipment manufacturer, to use our cloud.  If you’re interested in collecting large amounts of data for future processing and analysis, we have extremely low storage rates based on Amazon AWS services. 

So if you’re connected, make the most of it. Turn it into profit with monthly incremental monitoring and troubleshooting services, improve your customer service, and use your data as a competitive tool.

And if you’re not connected, it may be time to finally plug in.

Learn more about connecting to a BAS and how to gain valuable insights into your devices with SMC Cloud.

Steve Shaw

Steve Shaw