By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
Automation is the key to efficiency in the digital age. The boom of the Internet of Things (IoT) is bridging the gap between computers and real-world problems, while driving solutions for doing more with less. Building automation products like sensors, beacons, and relays—backed by powerful software ecosystems—put facility managers at the helm of a workplace that’s primed for automation.
Like any technology option, automation serves a specific purpose. It’s up to facilities managers to identify opportunities for automation in their workplaces. Addressing these opportunities with the right building automation system products stands to save you time and money.
Take a look at five simple building automation products that may save your business time and money from the moment they’re installed and programmed:
1. Motion sensor lighting
The more square footage you have, the more lights you’ll have driving up your energy bill. There’s no getting around lighting—employees need it.
Motion sensor lighting is the simplest type of building automation sensors, yet one of the most effective in saving money. Putting these sensors wherever you have lighting will immediately cut your costs. The lights turn on when people are detected and the room is in use; they turn off after a period of not detecting any motion. It’s a simple, efficient form of automation.
2. Smart thermostats
Another accessible form of automation is the smart thermostat. HVAC costs as one of the highest utility costs for any business, so these thermostats are great additions to building automation.
Instead of heating or cooling to a specific point, smart thermostats factor in machine learning and automation to heat and cool efficiently. For example, if your business is unoccupied before 8 a.m. and after 6 p.m., smart thermostats learn these habits and behave accordingly, setting different temperature ranges to conserve energy. Likewise, they’re quick to adapt to comfort changes like a heat wave or sub-zero temps.
3. Desk occupancy sensors
Installed near a desk, these sensors detect when someone is sitting and working at a specific workstation. For offices with hot desks and flexible workstations, they’re a must-have for automating workforce management.
When managed through an Integrated Workplace Management System (read more om what is an IWMS system), desk occupancy sensors give facility managers instant insight into what’s open vs. what’s occupied. This eliminates the need for manual check-ins, complicated email chains, or more expensive badging systems.
4. Access control systems
Managing personnel permissions is critical. Even more important is keeping unwanted people out of sensitive areas, like server rooms, filing areas, or tech rooms. With access control systems, gone are the days of overburdened keyrings or susceptible master keys. These systems make badges the only key your personnel need to access authorized areas.
Access control is centrally managed, with both tiered and user-level permissions. With a few keystrokes, facilities managers can authorize or bar access to any area of your facilities for any group or individual—all without a physical lock or key. If an employee quits, is promoted, or needs temporary special permissions, the solution is near-instantaneous. For sprawling facilities with various user levels, access control automation is invaluable.
5. Emergency systems
Because automation is trigger-based, emergency systems are a vital opportunity every facilities manager should capitalize on. Automation during an emergency can add crucial life-saving minutes to an evacuation or a layer of safety when it’s needed most. Consider the following emergency automations:
- A trigger that removes access restrictions for elevators in the event of an alarm
- A trigger that sends an emergency alert notification to all occupied workstations
- A trigger that provides emergency exit instructions to every employee based on location
- A trigger that turns on all lighting and activates flashing emergency signage
With infinite possibilities for improving safety, emergency automation systems are an investment every business should consider.
Automation’s bigger picture
For each of these products, build in automated data collection. Motion sensor lighting shows energy use savings. Access control provides a record of who accessed what areas and when. Desk occupancy sensors show how often desks are in use, painting a picture of utilization over time.
Data is the key to making smarter workplace choices. Each informed decision adds up to future time and cost savings. Building automation products provide twofold benefits: Convenience upfront and insights over the long term. In both cases, automation results in continuous workplace improvement by helping facilities managers control more variables.
Keep reading: deploying workplace occupancy sensors to improve agility, utilization and efficiency.