june 2022
Interview

AutomatedBuildings.com

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7NOX is a cloud-based BMS interface that automates the scheduling and billing
 Ken Sinclair Founder, Owner, Publisher
AutomatedBuildings.com

 INTERVIEWElwin McKay-Smith

Bio
Elwin McKay-Smith, Managing Director of OpSys Solutions Ltd, makers of 7NOX. Elwin is an electrical engineer with 25 years' experience in DDC and industrial control systems, founding member and director of the Potter group of companies including OpSys Solutions Ltd.


                    



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Questions:

1.      1Sinclair — What is 7NOX?

a.      Elwin McKay-Smith – 7NOX is a cloud-based BMS interface that automates the scheduling and billing of on-demand/afterhours requests for heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)

2.      Sinclair — How does 7NOX work?  

a.      Elwin McKay-Smith — The 7NOX platform utilizes REST API technology to communicate between the 7NOX cloud service and the site device located within the building. The site device is a small Linux computer that communicates with BMS systems using BACnet protocol to schedule on-demand/after-hours HVAC requests. User requests are stored, managed, and updated on our cloud servers; the site device queries the cloud service every five minutes. The system manages both user and admin accounts.

3.      Sinclair — What sets OpSys Solutions apart from others?

a.      Elwin McKay-Smith — Well, we understand buildings inside out. Within our group of companies, we employ mechanical, electrical, software and embedded system engineers. We’re not just a software company. We bring a lot of hands-on, practical experience to BMS integration. We understand the complexities of building systems, and we leverage that knowledge when developing our software.

FMs and property owners need a seamless solution, something that just works. Our primary goal is to deliver a soft landing for stakeholders who need to get on with business as usual. That’s why we’ve designed 7NOX to be user-friendly and easy to integrate with any BMS system. But as we all know sometimes things don’t always go to plan. BMS systems can be complicated. Our technical support team has a lot of experience integrating with different systems as we have been in the BMS game for over 25 years. We live and breathe BMS.

4.      Sinclair — What are the benefits of automating your after-hours program?

a.      Elwin McKay-Smith — Good question. Obviously with any automation process, one big benefit is time savings, and our system is no different. Manual programs take up staff time. Someone has to receive and execute the requests. They may even need an engineer to program the BMS. Next, requests have to be recorded in a spreadsheet and updated when tenants make changes. Last minute changes are what usually eat up the most time. Finally, someone, usually the FM, has to generate and deliver the invoices. All told, manual systems can get pretty time intensive.

Automated platforms cut out all those steps. Tenants create and edit their own bookings in the system. All requests are automatically recorded in the system too, so there are fewer entry errors. And billing is also automated. Our platform delivers invoices right to your inbox each month. They’re good to go, just forward on to tenants. Our customers really benefit from the time savings. It frees their staff up for more important tasks. Tenants love our platform too because scheduling is easy and flexible. It’s become more popular with employers who have adopted a hybrid work model. 

5.      Sinclair — Interesting, tell me more about how hybrid work is affecting after-hours automation programs.

a.      Elwin McKay-Smith — We’re seeing after-hours programs in general becoming more popular because of hybrid and remote work. The pandemic changed everything. We’re seeing a lot of building floors being heated and cooled that are empty because workers are now at home or only come in once or twice a week. It doesn’t make sense to run these million-dollar systems for empty spaces. Building managers don’t like it and tenants don’t like paying for it. Environmentalists certainly don’t like it. And with a growth in popularity, naturally people start trying to lower costs and automate tasks. After-hours automation is the right tool at the right time.

We see automation in general growing exponentially in the next five to ten years, both from the need to lower energy costs and to comply with fast-approaching mandates. We’re certainly seeing this in New Zealand, where we’re based. HVAC is one of those building systems that’s perfect for going “on demand”. Since these systems account for so much of a building’s energy usage, we think they’re the most obvious candidate for managers and owners to offer service as needed. 




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