By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
Powerful, new building automation products make the workplace smarter and help facilities managers improve productivity. They’re designed to be part of a comprehensive Building Automation System (BAS) that makes centralizes and streamlines essential facilities management tasks.
It’s likely your business already has basic building automations in place. It’s even more likely you’re planning to increase the number of automation applications in the coming years. As you research automation opportunities, keep the following six applications in mind:
1. Time- and motion-sensitive lighting
Lights are a standard feature in any workplace. Leave them on 24/7/365 and you’ll burn through kilowatts—and utility budgets—at a tremendous pace. Thankfully, this illuminating problem is one of the easiest to automate.
Motion- or time-sensitive lighting can make a huge impact on workplace utility costs. Powered by sensors, automated lights are affordable, programmable, and easily integrated. Bulbs go off after a preset amount of time after no movement is detected. Timers can automatically turn lights on in parts of your building at specified times, then shut them off when the workday ends.
2. Air handling systems
Does your workplace suffer from Sick Building Syndrome? Poor airflow and inferior air quality can heighten allergies, spread cold and flu viruses, and aggravate breathing conditions like asthma and COPD.
Automated building automation systems for air conditioners and heating units dynamically monitor temperature, humidity, and even allergen counts. Filtering systems are activated as-needed, exchanging stale air for fresh, clean, and pathogen-free ventilation. Top-tier systems even offer programming for cycles, filter change alerts, and zone-controlled air exchange.
3. Occupancy sensors
A more sophisticated foray into building automation for facilities managers is the use of occupancy sensors. These act as triggers for other systems, like lighting and air.
For example, occupancy sensors automate the collection of room occupancy data. Gone are the days of reviewing log sheets. Occupancy sensors show how often a room is used, for how long, and even by whom if integrated with an activity badge system. Sensors aggregate trends into real data—information facility managers can turn into actionable space utilization planning.
4. Detection and alarm sensors
Safety and security are core concerns of facilities management with no shortage of automation solutions. There are sensors for virtually every workplace safety and security threat: smoke and fire, carbon monoxide, noxious fumes, intruders, earthquakes, and even inclement weather. Regardless of the threat, automated sensors provide early warning and allow facilities managers to trigger emergency plans.
Many of these products have been around for decades: smoke detectors are a prime example. Modern iterations provide more direct control via automation. A sensor-powered smoke detector doesn’t just detect smoke. It tells you exactly where in the building the smoke is and triggers alerts and actions—some even send an email blast to FMs, alert the fire department, trigger emergency lights, activate suppression systems, and override building access controls.
5. Access control systems
Larger facilities with tiered employee groups benefit tremendously from access control automation. These systems allow facility managers to centrally set permissions, dictate who has access to what on both a group level and an individual basis.
Gone are the days of traditional “keyholders.” Today, anyone with an approved ID badge can access the facility. Badges or key codes create accountability and an access system of record. Moreover, they’re a form of protection and employee safety. Access control eliminates duplicate keys, manual check-ins, and free-roaming guests.
6. Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) software
Building automation hardware needs a digital bridge—something connecting it all together. Building automation software is the solution: specifically, an Integrated Workplace Management System (read more on what is IWMS software). It’s the premier tool in centralizing and managing next-gen workplace automation.
IWMS software enables automation system control, aggregates data, and serves as a point of reference for the core areas of building management. IWMS software replaces traditional spreadsheets, paper documents, and non-standardized processes still used by many facilities managers. It’s both the first and final piece of the building automation puzzle.
As your building’s immersion into automation grows, consider adopting some or all of the above systems. Each is critical in streamlining facilities management—no matter the business type or size.
Keep reading: five simple building automation products that save your business time and money.
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash