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Building Automation System Integrators: How to Find a Partner That Can Provide Total Network Connectivity

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Natalie Patton

The investment in a next-generation building automation system is no longer a luxury or even a differentiator: it’s a must-have. Tenants and occupants demand the convenience and health and wellness benefits that come from automated controls and management. Automation is key to reducing energy costs and increasing productivity, but only when features are integrated and used correctly.

Correctly integrating the best smart building technologies to create a state-of-the-art network is the differentiator you are looking for. And doing so means finding a partner that can achieve total network connectivity. 

A building automation systems integrator is vital to how your building operates both behind the scenes and in the day-to-day experience of your tenants. They work to erase silos, share information, and enhance the overall automated process. Not only that, but they have the strategic vision to architect secure systems for complex needs, and the on-the-ground experience to execute that vision. 

Finding the right one isn’t always easy, but doing so—and investing in taking your automation to the next level—is how you multiply your ROI.

Why Building Automation System Integrators are Vital

If you’re looking for a systems integrator, you want to get the most out of your automation investment. If you’re embarking on a new construction project, you know that each part of your building is undergoing careful design and calibration for optimal performance. But what happens when that building gets turned over by the construction team and your occupants start moving in? Your equipment isn’t always going to operate as designed. Master systems integrators (MSI) connect your disparate systems so they can communicate with you through one easily accessible and easy to use interface. That way, building operators are able to ensure systems remain in top working condition throughout their operational life. 

Integration can be accomplished for most systems and devices such as:

  • HVAC
  • Mechanical systems
  • Lighting
  • Access control
  • Cloud-based APIs for tenant experience apps
  • Smart restroom sensors
  • Advanced indoor air quality systems
  • Occupancy systems

Adding controls and automation to each of these systems is a great first step in getting them to work more efficiently, but when they are integrated they, and you, work even better. Integration allows for coordination through all components of your building, which allows for even more flexibility. It allows you to take advantage of your smart technologies, and connect to AI and machine learning algorithms for continual improvement of systems

Silos, where different systems are walled off from each other and don’t share information or coordinate, are the enemy of automation. Integration breaks them down, giving you three huge opportunities: 

  • Gain true visibility into your building. By connecting the systems that operate different aspects of your building, you can generate data on how everything works together. Data analytics can be used to maximize performance. Visibility means that you can see what is happening in your building, so you know not only that everything is working but how. 
  • Gain control of your building system. When you have this knowledge, you have the ability to make changes, establish schedules, and more efficiently manage the day-to-day operations of every system. 
  • Promote long-term operational growth. Systems that are connected to AI and Machine learning algorithms can continually improve their operations. That’s how you get the most out of your investment.

So, if you’re ready to make your investment in automation really start to pay off, you’re ready to find an integration partner. But what does that partner look like? 

How to Find an Integrated Building Automation System Partner

Automation is a huge investment. Integration is another vital investment. So it really shouldn’t be taken lightly. You need a partner who can help you maximize every aspect of your automation to maximize the impact of your spend. That means they will need the right tools, methodologies, and expertise to make this happen.

Familiarity with All Components of Your Building

That was a long (and not even fully comprehensive) list of systems to integrate above. Your integration partner needs to be familiar with all HVAC and mechanical systems plus access control, lighting, elevators, and API connections for IOT sensors like occupancy, indoor air quality, smart restrooms, and more. They need to know how these are used and the best ways to connect them. An MSI with deep domain knowledge is essential. 

Deep Product Knowledge

It’s not just the systems themselves that are important, of course. You’ll want a partner who understands products from multiple manufacturers and is agnostic about the technology involved. They're there to help you select the right products to create a well-architected system. This includes products from many different vendors. 

These products also include intelligent analytics platforms. These data analytics platforms collect and analyze data to automate responses and generate actionable reports. 

Open Protocol Guarantee

Different systems communicate across a variety of protocols, which can be frustrating for building managers and operators. Your partner in automation integration needs to specialize in open protocol building management systems and API connections so they can ensure every aspect of your building can actually be reached through the connected network and will communicate once a connection is made. These open protocols also mean that you aren’t confined to a specific vendor or reliant on specialized programmers. 

Specialized Teams with a User-Focused Approach

Automation is complicated. Integration is complicated. But getting the most out of it shouldn’t be. That’s why you should look for a partner who focuses on user experience and customer success. That means having teams that are built with the customer in mind. What does this entail?

  • Graphics teams that produce easy-to-understand visualizations.
  • IT teams that can provide support and training, including connectivity consulting, managed service, and expertise on building network projects.
  • Software programming teams that turn complex connections into easy to use applications.

All of these teams are dedicated to solving your problems and promoting a seamless user experience. They need to understand that this isn’t about their technology, but about how you’ll use it. 

A Simple Onboarding Process

Integration technology is about increasing efficiency and making lives easier; onboarding shouldn’t be an inefficient slog. A partner with a simple process that can be quickly executed puts you in control right away. 

Easy onboarding, and ease of use, means that there is a greater ability to transfer institutional knowledge when people leave or are hired on. More users with more knowledge eliminate chokepoints and stop you from having to reinvent the wheel every time someone goes on vacation. 

The Ability to Communicate to All Your Internal Teams

The modern building is complicated; the teams that run it have a diversity of specialized knowledge. Your partner needs to be able to speak to all of them about their needs and how they’ll use the technology. 

They need to speak the language of IT with a focus on what matters most, including and especially cybersecurity. They need to consult with IT teams and design a robust cybersecurity team that includes:

  • Early detection of attacks on physical systems, control systems, and edge devices
  • Warning and prevention against cyberthreats
  • Real-time network monitoring
  • Non-intrusive, packet-level network monitoring

Protecting your building is a team-wide effort, and the right partner keeps everyone on the same page. 

A Focus on You

Every potential partner is going to say they are customer-oriented. But you can tell which partner actually cares about your results by the way their technology is used. 

It’s about support and training, yes, but it’s also about if they have designed it with you and your users in mind. Is it hard to use? Do you need to change providers or adjust protocols to make it work? Do you have to keep buying more things? Will you have to hire someone just to manage the new system?

The answer should be “no” to all of these— that’s how you know your partner was doing more than developing software. They were trying to solve your problem. 

Connect with a True Connectivity Partner

Integrated systems combine with data analytics to create the future of smart buildings. That’s why you want more than a vendor to hook up software. You want someone who is a true partner in your future. 

Buildings IOT and its master system integrator capabilities are how your building joins that future. This is a powerful system that operates from a single pane of glass, giving you full insight into the data that defines your operations. This gives you insight and control. It’s how knowledge becomes action. 

You want to get the most out of your automation. That’s why you want a partner who begins their focus on the end result—how you make a smarter, more efficient building and keep maximum occupancy—and works relentlessly to get you there. You want the technology and the knowledge that builds a true partnership. 

To learn more about how onPoint can help you get the most out of your building automation system, register for our monthly webinars. Or contact our analytics team to get more information about our platform.

 

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