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An out-of-date building automation system (BAS) can cost you significant opportunities to save energy, extend equipment life and improve occupant comfort. Today’s BAS include features and benefits unheard of just a decade ago—helping building operators do more with less, protect building systems, and quantify return on investment.
An older BAS can cause inefficiencies for both operators and equipment, increasing costs over time. It may be incompatible with new technologies, making integration with new components difficult or costly. Moreover, out-of-date systems can be targets for hackers, leaving organizations open to cybersecurity risks. Understanding the newest benefits and features today’s modern BAS offer can help you evaluate your system and better recognize when it’s time to upgrade to reduce risks and capitalize on efficiencies.
It may be time to ask yourself, “What is my outdated BAS costing me?”
Increase productivity with intuitive interfaces
BAS interfaces have been updated to be more intuitive and easy to use. A best-in-class BAS interface should be based on the building operator’s natural workflow, with features such as “space-based navigation,” which displays information using floor plans and equipment graphics instead of spreadsheets. User testing on one BAS using an intuitive interface found that with space-based navigation, operators reach critical information with 86 percent fewer clicks – that means faster troubleshooting. Robust but easy-to-use alarm management and scheduling capabilities, including the ability to view and make changes to multiple schedules at once, significantly reducing time on task. The intuitive graphical design cuts training time and increases productivity.
Save time with fully mobile access
With building operators spending only 20 percent of a typical workday at their desk, most building automation systems have long offered some kind of mobile capability. Remember the Palm Pilot? But as mobile technology has evolved at a dizzying pace, the BAS industry has made equally dramatic improvements in both the amount of information available and the ease with which that information can be accessed. With responsive design, the full power of the BAS is now available anywhere, on any device. Users only have to learn one experience, regardless of the device they are using, reducing overall learning time. And because no software or application installations are required, time spent installing, maintaining and updating software on every user’s client device is eliminated.
Minimize security vulnerabilities with current systems
Gone are the days of “security through obscurity.” Data breaches and hacking attacks have dominated the popular media, making the security of building data much more of an issue than it was five or 10 years ago. Upgrading or updating software is one of five key security countermeasures recommended by the Department of Homeland Security Control Systems Security Program1. Modern BAS follow IT best practices including better management of user password processes and hashing schemes, dormant user account reporting, inactivating ports not in use and securing and encrypting communication, like HTTPS communication. These kinds of features not only prevent unauthorized access and reduce risk, they also satisfy IT requirements that are increasingly being mandated. Staying current with your BAS software is the only way to ensure you benefit from these critical features—and have continuing access to minor updates and security patches.
Find energy and operational savings through advanced analytics and visualizations
Building automation systems have always generated huge amounts of data. Today’s leading systems help facility managers use that data effectively. For instance, fault detection and diagnostics tools gather data from sensors and equipment, then apply complex algorithms to uncover potential problems before they’re detectable through traditional alarms. Such applications not only alert staff to an impending issue, but also identify the issue’s cause and use easy-to-understand visual displays that help technicians quickly zero in on a preventative solution. This can dramatically reduce baseline energy consumption, capital costs and equipment wear. Some systems even help prioritize events by cost-saving potential, so staff can tackle the problems with the greatest impact on the bottom line.
Get a bigger return on system investments
The platforms and operating systems underlying BAS can become quickly outdated as technology advances. Leading BAS protect customers from the risk of obsolescence by offering clear and easy paths to migration and modernization, ensuring systems are up to date and enhancing longevity. Interoperability and openness also support longer system life, by offering systems the ability to talk to and with other devices and systems. With continued commitment to BACnet support, the industry-preferred communications protocol, and the ability to support other communications protocols, leading BAS offer customers the ability to easily integrate with other systems, maximizing ROI over the system’s lifespan.
In short, upgrading older versions of building automation systems and keeping them current helps increase security, longevity, and operational efficiency. What’s more, a 2015 Pacific Northwest National Laboratory survey of more than 100 buildings over eight years showed that almost all buildings could reduce energy use five to 30 percent with simple changes to their controls2. Today’s building automations systems that offer the features and capabilities presented in this article provide greater flexibility and control, with the opportunity to take full advantage of these potential savings. And today’s leading BAS providers make staying current with system enhancements easier than ever with software subscriptions, so you can better control maintenance costs and promote peak system performance.