How Do You Integrate Systems Together?
What is System Integration?
System integration is defined as the process of bringing together individual building systems into a single graphical interface and ensuring that these systems function together as a single system. Simply put, system integration consolidates different systems into a larger system for ease of use. This consolidation creates a single access point for all system controls, including monitoring, alarm, graphics and trends showing related data—simplifying the work of facility managers.
Integrating building systems
Connected buildings can go beyond HVAC equipment—including other systems such as lighting, security, water and elevators. BAS can dim lights, raise building settings, or slightly slow down elevators and escalators. Typically, these actions are not noticeable to occupants, but there are potentially significant financial benefits.
This degree of integration means looking at the whole building and the manner in which it functions as a community of integrated/interdependent structures rather than as many individual components.
Various types of systems—including equipment from various manufacturers—can be combined when they speak the same language. Or in other situations, a communication bridge can be used to link equipment that does not speak the same language.
Look for devices and systems that use open and standard protocols, such as BACnet, LonWorks or ZigBee. This helps ensure the convergence of various types of systems and facilities to drive value to your customers.
What bits, HVAC equipment or lighting should be integrated first? It depends on what objectives the customers are trying to achieve.
Working with an equipment supplier with experience in building controls and integration is helpful. An experienced partner will provide insight into which equipment and systems can be connected and incorporated.
Although much of the equipment is easier to install during new construction, there are also items built for use in existing buildings. Wireless networking products can be applied to connectivity-creating equipment, which ensures the equipment does not require the built-in ability to connect to the Internet.
Building connectivity does not have to be an all-or-nothing strategy. It is possible to start with one piece of equipment and to incorporate other devices in stages, which also makes it easier to take the first step.
In one real-world example, the film theater chain uses a building management system (BMS) to incorporate HVAC and lighting controls at each of its locations. These building-level systems are linked to a web-enabled, enterprise-level BAS network. This cloud-based networking enables facility managers to track, control and apply changes to their buildings around the country from a central location.
This system integration with enterprise-wide control delivers several advantages, including the ability to synchronize lighting and HVAC system settings with ticket sales and show time schedules. On Friday nights, when the cinema lobby fills, the theaters automatically switch when tickets are sold, ensuring that the packed new release shows are cool while the less common screenings are temperate. The theater chain saves money by making automated heating, cooling and lighting changes based on occupancy needs.
Advanced facilities available through the BMS Theater also include remote resolution of system alarms 24/7 and intelligent dispatch of system details and troubleshooting to technicians’ handheld devices.
In another example, the regional microbrewery uses the BMS connection to gather enterprise-wide device data from locations in 13 states. Web-enabled building control provides corporate-level access to all sites, provides cloud access to business data and the ability to monitor and change site conditions and system service from mobile devices.