March 2022
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Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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BYE BYE BAS, HELLO SPOG!
Breaking down the Single Pane of Glass, one technology solution layer at a time.

By Sumita Gulgule, Co-founder
Automation Design Exchange (ADE)

https://www.autodesignx.com




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When I entered the industry nearly two decades ago, the Building Automation System was a simple architecture comprising three levels best explained by this pyramid.

2

It was also essentially mostly about HVAC controls, so we were dealing with temperature, pressure, flow, level, indoor air quality and occupancy. Basic control elements were motors (fan and pumps), VFDs, valves, dampers and VAVs. And finally, there were software integrations with all sorts of equipment within the building, dominated by protocol gateways and converters but largely restricted to Bacnet, Modbus and Lonworks protocols.

 

From there to now, there has been a dramatic shift in the definition of “building management” and “building intelligence,” driven by both, disruptive technology and its rapid absorption in smarter buildings as well as by increasing awareness and adoption of climate change mitigation and ESG compliance committed by the global leadership of industry stakeholders. This has quickly moved the solutions and services around building controls from “nice-to-have" to “must-have.” And, here lies a huge opportunity for vendors to collaborate and deliver solutions to meet the complex and often competing goals set by industry stakeholders.

 

With most vendors embracing ‘Open’ and ‘Interoperable’ and the growing convergence of IT, OT, IoT, AI/ML, Big data industries, the possibilities of how and what can be monitored, integrated, modelled, controlled and managed is almost limitless. Data is the new Energy! Business decisions are driven using insights obtained from Business Analytics tools; investors, owners, property/portfolio managers and facility managers demand actionable intelligence through a Single Pane of Glass.

 

Vendors, integrators and contractors today are facing the daunting task to offer this Single Pane of Glass solution to their customers. 

 

This typically requires aggregation of all kinds of field data from sensors, devices, gateways, as well as operational data from 3rd party investment, enterprise management systems, individual property management, asset management systems etc. into one place. Once the data is in, it must be monitored, modelled and managed in order to produce actionable intelligence to solve complex and intertwined business problems. 

 

There are typically 5 layers to building this solution and here's how ADE and its partner companies can help with each layer, listed top down: 

 

Layer1 - Visualization 

 

We have dedicated UX teams who have the skills needed to build visual designs as well as UI developers to build front end solutions to build business apps, analytics apps and present them in the form of UX/UI. We have our own web app ENWAT that can be customized to meet visualization needs. We can also integrate with 3rd party visualization and analytics platforms like Microsoft Power BI, Tableu, QlikView platforms etc. 

We can help in any of the following scenarios: 

1.There's an existing UI that needs enhancement  

2.There's a need to build a completely new UI  

3.In either of the cases above there's a need to integrate with 3rd party analytics platforms. 

 

Layer2 - Business services  


Here is where we bring in subject matter expertise in Building Operations and can help work with client’s teams to hypothesise and build models for all sorts of business problems and write/implement rules/logic as services. We can work with all technologies such as streaming (real-time) analytics, semantic analytics or AI ML models. We can also help segregate existing services for consumption. 

 

Layer3 - Data Aggregation 


Data aggregation is perhaps the most complex in BMS systems because of variety of sources of data and normalization that is required. Added complexity here is that devices talk on different protocols, they may be sending sparse data that needs to be enriched before feeding to a common system, different vendors use different data tags, different identifiers, different meta data. We can help with data transformation and normalization through the master data management system.  


Layer 4 - Connectivity  

 

Whether it is connectivity through devices or through applications, we have it covered. 

For devices, we have expertise in wired and wireless technologies such as MQTT, cellular technology such as private LTE, Wi-Fi technology, Bluetooth low energy, different protocol stacks like IFTTT, TCP/IP, BACnet, Modbus etc.    

For applications, we can work with REST or SOAP based APIs. We also have extensive experience with Middleware such as MuleSoft. 

Layer 5 - IoT and embedded systems  

 

We can work with OEMs on their embedded software and help build firmware for adding/enhancing IoT connectivity.  

 

Transverse to all layers is our cyber security offering where we can work with identity and access management systems and SIEM systems. Across every layer, we can help 

1. Engineer the right tools for monitoring 

2. Engineer the right tools for access control - multifactor authentication, identity and access management  

3. Compliance aspects – to ensure risks are mitigated 

 

Furthermore, we can help with integration of various Peripheral apps/tools in the cloud e.g.  Salesforce, ServiceNow, RPA and chatbots. 

 

Every vendor and service provider in the buildings industry is working towards adding skills and expertise to their in-house teams to be able to deliver new-age solutions. At Automation Design Exchange (ADE), we bring in specialized skills in these areas and a quick scale-up because we have ready teams, all while ensuring client IP protection and confidentiality. ADE in smart partnership with its clients accelerate Digital product engineering/enhancement, customer specific custom app development, System integration, deployment of peripheral apps/technologies, and 24*7 support at competitive price points from its engineering centres in India (Pune, Mumbai and Baroda). To know more, please reach out to Sam Pradhan, our Founder and CEO, based out of Chicago and is available at sam@autodesignx.com.

 

Thank you so much Ken, for inviting me to write this article on automatedbuildings.com and for the IWD issue at that. It is a huge honour and a dream come true to be able to contribute to this phenomenon that you created decades ago and that has inspired many of us to be the change we want to see! It is very encouraging to see the industry embrace and celebrate women in the Smart Buildings industry and make a conscious effort to capitalise on this intelligent, diligent and passionate workforce that are WOMEN! A big shout out to you and automatedbuildings.com for having pioneered this effort and pursuing it year-on-year!

sumitaAbout the author:

Sumita Gulgule has extensive experience in designing, implementing and managing BMS projects. Based in India, she has successfully led teams that have executed projects across USA, India, Middle East and Africa. At ADE, which she co-founded, she heads the Professional Services team that caters to Outsourced Engineering Services.

                               https://www.autodesignx.com














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