BEMS is more than just a management tool

No longer simply a management tool to control lighting and HVAC, the next generation of BEMS will be used to gather data that can directly benefit the organisation, says Ian Ellis, marketing manager of Siemens Building Technologies.

Unlocking the potential in data is now high on the priority list for business leaders around the globe. Big data, the process of gathering and analysing huge volumes of information in order to gain useful insights into patterns and trends within business, has quickly grown into a $38bn industry and is expected to expand rapidly over the next few years.

What many organisations fail to realise is that they may already be sitting on a goldmine of data that can be accessed by an existing technology - providing they are able to realise its full potential.

The building energy management system is widely recognised as an effective tool for controlling and monitoring a host of vital systems within a building, often covering lighting systems, HVAC, power, fire systems, blind control and security systems. However, the next generation of BEMS will take this to the next level, moving data out of the BEMS itself and turning it into information that is usable in the enterprise.

Data that leaves the BEMS and is moved into other operational systems within an organisation is referred to as northbound data, whilst data going the opposite way – from the plant into the BEMS – is labelled southbound data.

The northbound data has untold potential as it could offer unique business information that would be of real value for organisations looking to improve their performance and productivity.

Businesses already harvest data from accounting systems and use it to make positive changes and the same will be true with BEMS information – offering the facilities management team vital statistics on key systems within the building will help give them a clearer picture of energy saving options and potential changes that can be made in order to enhance working conditions and improve the business.

Effective data extraction may represent the next evolutionary leap in the BEMS marketplace but there are plenty of innovations and system improvements being made right now.

Currently, around 40 per cent of global energy consumption is attributed to buildings – a figure that could be reduced significantly if building owners and operators clamp down on wastage and take a closer look at their operating costs.

An effective BEMS, such as the Desigo solution from Siemens Building Technologies, should provide all users – facilities managers, CEOs, other building occupants – with in-depth information on the vital systems within the building, enabling them to make strategic decisions that will strengthen their organisation and set them on the path to a brighter future.

The latest solutions are designed to put the user at the very heart of the BEMS, offering significantly enhanced usability and features that are tailored towards operators with varying degrees of knowledge and expertise.

Historically targeted at experts such as controls engineers, many early BEMS solutions failed to deliver on their promise because the user simply didn’t have the know-how and was ill-equipped to deal with changes that needed to be made.

Thankfully, this is now changing as systems are designed to support the operator rather than the operator working hard to make the BEMS do what they want.

As well as being set up to allow intuitive use by users at all levels, the latest BEMS solutions can inform the operator of the course of action required when a problem/alarm occurs, expertly guiding them through the process of how best to respond. This prevents inexperienced users from silencing alarms and assuming the problem has been solved.

Easy to understand graphic displays provide a clear picture of the status of the building, whilst vector graphics allow the user to zoom right in and still see pin sharp images – a real advantage when viewing tightly packed plant rooms. In some systems, access, viewing and the quantity of the information can all be individually tailored to the needs of the individual user.

Saving on energy costs are a significant factor in choosing to implement a BEMS and the latest systems prioritise energy management, providing innovative energy saving functions and processes designed to reduce usage in a number of areas.

A truly flexible solution will allow the user to go one step further, tailoring the system to their current and future needs and expanding their setup as the business or building grows.

BEMS that allow PDF storage can ensure that important documents are never misplaced, pointing the user toward the relevant documentation or associated information as soon as they select a piece of equipment on-screen.

There’s no doubt that BEMS have come a long way in a short space of time but it’s also true to say they have yet to realise their full potential.

As the extraction and processing of data becomes ever more prevalent, the building will become a key resource for organisations looking to find new ways of adding value to the business – tapping into data located in the BEMS just might be the ideal place to begin the process.

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