IoT and smart buildings
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IoT-based Building Management Systems : The future of facilities

IoT-based systems bring various untapped benefits and professionals are latching on to the new technology to move forward. The industry is subsequently witnessing a major shift from traditional BMSs, and businesses are reaping the benefits of the change!

Geethanjali Manoj Kumar
A girl managing facilities digitally

Facility management has flourished as an industry since the emergence of thriving workspaces in the 1970s. It has gone through substantial changes and advancements over the years. With the rise in interest in Industry 4.0, it is evolving faster than it ever has in the past decades.

It all started with the introduction of Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) in the 1950s, initially used for industrial operations. Over time, these technologies expanded into the building automation space. In the 1980s, another significant development occurred with the introduction of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, which revolutionized large-scale plant and factory processes.

By the 1990s with the expansion of the internet and the development of cloud-based BMSs in the 2000s, facility management is on the path to faster and more efficient recent development.

So what’s the rage in the 2020s? What are our industry leaders looking at in 2023? The answer is IoT and cloud-based building management systems!

What is an IoT-based Building Management System?

A quick refresher - what is a BMS?

A BMS or Building Management System is a system facilities use to control their lights, HVACs, security, and so on. They are completely reliant on propriety protocols and other hardware-level communications and come with a ton of disadvantages. They are extremely difficult to scale up, devices cannot communicate among themselves, requires manual data collection, cannot be automated, and so on. 

Although in the 1950s when they first came in full force and eventually expanded to faster hardware-based systems and completely revolutionized the way facilities were managed, the conventional BMS is alarmingly lacking in modern times.

This is when the IoT-based systems step in. So what is IoT? What is an IoT-based BMS?

To begin with, let’s discuss what IoT is. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a connected network of “things” (physical objects/connected devices) connected through the Internet. These devices can collect and transmit data, perform control actions, and communicate among themselves, via the network. In a physical sense, one can imagine an IoT-based system to look like a massive interconnected web of devices and communication tools. 

An IoT-based BMS is hence a building management system hooked up to the internet in the simplest forms of explanation! It utilizes sensors and devices connected to the internet.  It enables cross-communication among devices and to the BMS software, easier data collection, remote access, aid in making data-based control decisions, and so on.

What does an IoT-based BMS look like?

In a broad sense, the structure of an IoT-based BMS can be visualized as a hierarchically built tree. The bottommost level is populated by field devices that are in turn connected to the second layer of IoT gateways. 

These two layers are the means to connect all devices and enable communication among them and to the cloud and BMS platform efficiently. The data collected by the IoT gateways are hence channeled to the cloud and BMS platform where they are analyzed, processed, and later visualized and presented for usage at the final level - the user interface of the BMS platform. 

This form of architecture is perfect when it comes to ensuring data security, quick and easy communication, remote access, data collection and analysis, and system scalability.

Changes brought about by IoT-based BMS in facilities.

Integrating an IoT-based building management system is becoming vital to efficient facility management, and here are the top few reasons why:

1. Efficient data collection and management

Data can be efficiently and safely collected from all connected devices and comes in handy in analyzing different metrics such as energy utilization and occupancy metrics. The addition of the cloud into the system is fruitful for real-time data collection and storage all without the requirement of hefty servers and immensely large control centres. This is great if you would want to pull up a dashboard at any time and view asset performances, energy usage, current occupancy within the facility, and such.

To add to the list of benefit these collected data can be quickly organized and visualized on the dashboard and be made available to anyone of interest. 

2. Scalability 

Unlike the traditional BMS, an IoT-based BMS can easily accommodate new devices and even be expanded over floors of a building or to new buildings across the portfolio. Furthermore all these buildings can be managed from a single dashboard.

3. Proactive maintenance

Data collected via the network and saved in the cloud can actively be used to monitor asset conditions and performance history. This data is important to be able to understand the asset requirements and other useful metrics such as mean time to failure and mean to time to repair. These varied data points and insights are utilized to create unique and efficient preventive maintenance schedules, raise emergency work orders, real-time safety or failure alerts, or keep track of all maintenance activities.

4. Increased security 

The potential of sudden breakdowns due to disrepair and ignorance can be completely avoided with the real-time status reporting available to us via the connected system. This subtends to greater importance other than analysis and maintenance. It is a wonderful feature that prevents any kind of workplace accidents and inconveniences by fixing issues before they are long overdue.

Apart from workplace security, data security is also something of utmost importance. An IoT-based BMS (even when linked to the cloud) comes with a sound security protocol and safety algorithms to safeguard information. There is no requirement for manual reporting and physical data storage that could be irresponsibly handled.

5. Cost efficiency 

Putting all the above points together we have: reduced downtime and increased asset lifetimes due to proper maintenance, efficient data management leading to optimal functioning of the facility and resource allocation, and easy cost-reduced scalability. 

All these benefits not only save your facility’s unwanted repair and maintenance costs and charges, but they also increase the return on investment.

6. Sustainability 

As mentioned in the last point an IoT-based system can be a means to be sustainable and mindful in facility operations. Keeping a check on all assets and physical processes can help identify unnecessary energy sinks and suboptimal resource allocation. It also helps prevents reactive maintenance as much as possible and this is something to look out for as an asset that eventually fails fully would have been consuming high amounts of energy or creating more than usual emissions and more. 

Moving Forward…

IoT is steadily but quickly becoming the new normal. With high-end enterprises and organizations opting for IoT and cloud-based solutions for the facilities IoT-based BMS are no longer just the future- they are the present! 

The numerous benefits and conveniences of IoT-based BMS aren’t the only golden points. Before you know it assets and facilities and work environments will be designed keeping in mind the norm for current-day facility management is IoT-based. So do not wait up! Contact us today to have a chat about IoT and cloud-based solutions best suited for your company!

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