More and more facility managers are looking at the Internet of Things to address building automation obsolescence and the captive real estate market. This is because legacy BAS equipment vendors may provide limited upgrade paths or fail to include modern features. Even now, facility managers often face high-cost upgrades from the vendor, operation disruption from switching to another vendor, or are forced to demolish the building and start over.
The Problem With Building Obsolescence
Technology becomes obsolete as it ages. It's an inevitable situation, even when incorporated into a building. New solutions could render it ineffective to the point where it is a competitive disadvantage to keep using the current systems. The original tenants could move out, and the building automation features in place don't live up to the new tenants' needs.
Additionally, buildings are locked in with the original vendor unless they want to completely overhaul the existing systems or try to do a retrofit. Either option is expensive and disruptive to operations. If the vendor decides to increase the price 100 percent each year, no one can do anything about it. They are at the mercy of the vendor.
Vendors may also be slow to update bugs in the system or roll out new upgrades. In the worst-case scenario, they could go out of business and no longer support their software and hardware. Many suppliers have proprietary systems that need specific parts or operating systems.
As a result, facility managers have been stuck with an automation system that lacks support. The risk of disruption is unacceptable, but the alternative is not attractive either.
Issues With Single System Solutions
Some facility managers compensate for the shortcomings of their current building automation systems by implementing single system solutions to cover a particular feature. This configuration can get quite complicated, with many platform layers spread throughout the building.
Trying to make sense of all of the information requires the facility manager to click through multiple software packages. They may even need to switch between devices to get the access they require. Finding an encompassing solution is the key to breaking out of the captive model and gaining access to the desired feature sets.
What is IoT?
The Internet of Things is a type of technology that makes it possible to collect data that was previously inaccessible for the facility manager. IoT devices come in many forms and provide real-time information from the building's systems. This visibility makes it possible for building managers to move away from the captive model of legacy BAS equipment.
A few ways facility managers implement IoT devices into their smart buildings include remote monitoring systems for identifying errors and going through troubleshooting procedures, using new data sources to schedule proactive maintenance for equipment, and dynamically adjusting HVAC based on real-time conditions.
How IoT Solutions Eliminate Building Obsolescence
Most buildings have a few low-level systems that are perfectly fine for their tasks. They don't have any innovations that require changing things up, so these legacy systems can stay in place. Facility managers don't have to go through an expensive replacement process, as the IoT devices can help modernize the operation. Here are a few ways that they help.
IoT sensors give facility managers data from entirely new locations. The flexibility of this technology allows it to put sensors in nearly any possible position. Building managers can access data that was impossible to record in the building before the implementation.
Optimization is much easier when facility managers have better visibility into what's going on in a commercial building. The connected nature of IoT devices makes it a simple task to feed this information into a single analysis solution. The facility manager gets all of the information at a glance. They can look for interconnected systems, signs of problems that could cause a domino effect throughout the facility and get an overall sense of operations.
The other advantage of a highly integrated IoT ecosystem is that all of those single-purpose solutions can be brought together via their data. The legacy building automation solutions can remain in place and operate as they normally do, while more high-level processes get the advantage of modernization.
The IoT market is far from mature, so the next few years will bring many exciting developments for the commercial real estate market. Facility managers will experiment with the many ways they can use sensors, finding the right combination for their unique building environments.
Eliminate Vendor Dependency
Building managers can break out of the closed systems that exist in the captive upgrade model. They no longer have to pay too much to a vendor that has control of the entire building. An IoT ecosystem makes deploying best-in-class solutions more feasible. They're no longer as time-intensive to manage, so the building can have a scalable technology foundation.
Vendor lock-in and building obsolescence are frustrating situations to deal with, but IoT technology makes it possible for facility managers to future-proof their operations. Whether they use new sensors to put a proactive maintenance program in place or progressively improve the air quality in the building, they can do it without worrying about the vendor's costs or position on the matter.