In previous posts on the Modern Equipment Manufacturer, we’ve discussed the emerging trend of cloud-enabling commercial and industrial equipment.
Today’s original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have found that by cloud-enabling the equipment that they design, build and sell, they can harvest the data of their equipment in the field – delivering actionable insights into how owners use their equipment and how their equipment performs in the field. This also gives them the ability to diagnose issues with equipment more proactively, and better understand equipment malfunctions – ensuring that repair personnel show up already knowing what the problem is and how to fix it.
Ultimately, OEMs have found that the cloud gives them the ability to harvest important data that they simply would have left behind before.
You may be asking, “Just what kinds of equipment are we talking about when we say commercial and industrial equipment?” Honestly, it’s really only limited by the imagination. Any piece of equipment that utilizes a BACnet or another BMS tool to generate operating data can have that system connected so that it pushes data to the cloud.
Want some examples? Here are five common types of equipment and systems that we’re increasingly seeing get “cloud enabled.”
Fire Alarm Control Panels (FACP)
A FACP is the controlling component of a fire alarm system. The panel receives information from environmental flame sensors designed to detect changes associated with fire, monitors their operational integrity, provides for automatic control of equipment, and transmits information necessary to prepare the facility for fire based on a predetermined sequence. Cloud-enabling these systems provides the ability to view the ancillary information and not interfere with the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) approved fire control system. In a future post, we’ll be taking a closer look at these devices and what connecting them to the cloud can enable – including one very innovative implementation that can help to save lives.
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Equipment
HVAC equipment and systems are used in residential, commercial, and industrial settings for indoor environmental comfort. A HVAC unit may also be responsible for providing fresh outdoor air to dilute interior airborne contaminants such as odors from occupants, volatile organic compounds emitted from interior furnishings, and chemicals used for cleaning. Overall, the goal for HVAC is to provide building tenants with thermal comfort (heating and cooling) and acceptable indoor air quality.
Modern industrial buildings today have building service designers, mechanical engineers, or building services engineers that analyze, design, and specify the HVAC systems. As HVAC units are typically installed on rooftops, controlling and monitoring a unit’s health from one location is more efficient than climbing to the roof for every problem. It is up to the specialty contractors or system integrators come in to commission the systems, integrating HVAC units with the central building management system.
Cloud-enabling HVAC systems makes it easier for OEMs to monitor and diagnose issues with their equipment. This can be important for ensuring that businesses don’t have to close in the middle of winter or summer because working conditions are unsafe – saving time, productivity and money. OEMs are also cloud-enabling these devices to enable something called HVAC as a service (HVACaaS), which we’ve discussed in a previous post.
A lighting control system is an intelligent network based lighting control solution that incorporates communication between various system inputs and outputs related to lighting control with the use of one or more central computing devices. Lighting control systems are widely used on both indoor and outdoor lighting of commercial, industrial, and residential spaces.
Lighting control systems serve to provide the right amount of light where and when it is needed. They’re also employed to maximize the energy savings from the lighting system, satisfy building codes, or comply with green building and energy conservation programs.
Within a large building with multiple stories, lighting control systems can be installed on every single floor. Integrating the many lighting control systems with a building management system helps provide oversight over energy consumption within an entire building from a central location. Cloud-enabling these systems can provide the ability to translate proprietary protocols into industry-standard protocols such as BACnet, LonWorks, and Modbus, enabling integration with facility-level management systems.
Boilers are pressure vessels designed to heat water or produce steam, which can then be used to provide space heating
and/or service water heating to a building. In most commercial building heating applications, the heating source in the boiler is a natural gas fired burner. Installed alongside a boiler is a boiler control system or controller, which is an interface for maximizing boiler and system efficiencies.
Oftentimes, boilers and their control systems need to be integrated with a building management system for monitoring purposes since boilers are typically located in dedicated boiler rooms, basements, or otherwise hard-to-access locations. Cloud-enabling boilers can give manufacturers the ability to support BACnet, Modbus, LonWorks, Metasys N2, and other protocols to seamlessly integrate with building management systems.
Chillers are machines that remove heat from a liquid to be used in cooling and refrigeration processes. Industrial chillers are used for controlled cooling of products, mechanisms, and factory machinery in a wide range of industries. However, different types of chillers, like vapor compressor chillers and absorption chillers, are selected depending on specifications from a facility.
When integrating a chiller to a building management system, one must consider monitoring control panel features such as the local control panel, remote control panel, fault indicators, temperature indicators, and pressure indicators. This is necessary for any industrial business operation.
These are just a few of the different types of devices that are getting cloud-enabled by OEMS. In a future post on the Modern Equipment Manufacturer, we’ll look at five more and why they need the cloud.