We’ve reached the end of an era; the end of another BAS era. Goodbye RS-485 serial, and hello CAT6 Ethernet. Change is scary, but those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future. And, the BAS advantages of this move are becoming overwhelming.

The first BAS divergence was marked by the major shift from pneumatics to DDC, moving from air pressure in tubing to digital accompanied by RS485, RS232, and LON. And, with that, everything changed. From controllers to sensors to actuators, everything became digital and included data and feedback. We, as an industry, became proficient in utilizing serial networks and computers to add visibility and control at a level far beyond that of the pneumatic era. Granted, it took years for the change to settle, but by the early 2000s the industry had changed and leaped forward, with no looking back.

Well, here we are once more. Amidst the next divergence, as IP takes over BAS, we will witness what will again fundamentally change the industry, forever. Everything is about to change, from IP control to IP sensing to IP clouds into OT networks with cybersecurity. As these new concepts take hold, we will move from the (now) Stone Age era of building data into a digital revolution with unheard of possibilities utilizing building data in a way that will drastically improve the energy demand, greenhouse emission, operational efficiencies, and, most important, the occupant experience.

One key driver pushing this technology into every project, is incredible bandwidth. We are taking 1 million times more throughput. Literally moving the bandwidth from 128k to 10 gig and more. The difference is crazy, and the data-crazed folk — forget about it, this is your goldmine!

What Does this Mean to Contractors?

For one, lower costs, as programming and commissioning hours are no longer used to stare at an update bar for an application. Instead, the update for the building can be done in milliseconds and the tech can move to the next task.

Another huge benefit is wiring and network reliability. This means no more troubleshooting networks. IP is plug and play and has already been used for networks in buildings. Once it is up, it does not go down.

With all these advantages of installing IP, techs do not have to spend nearly as much time on the installation, and the savings are so real. We see contractors giving deducts by changing job network designs from serial to IP controllers.     

What Does this Mean to Building Owners?

Open systems exist on a scale that could never be dreamed of. By controlling their own properly managed OT network with IP devices, they have no limitations on what hardware or software applications to utilize. As better technologies are made available, all a building owner will have to do is plug the new device into their software-updated OT network, which will allow for low-cost upgrades, adding new tenant features and amenities for years to come. The properly-secured OT network allows the building to plug in web services, which the owner can add to increase any service/system they choose — energy, operations, tenant experience, etc. Most importantly, by moving to BAS IP architectures, owners can capitalize on internal IT resources to help make better-informed decisions on the system selections, unlike the cryptic, unmanageable, application-specific RS485 BAS world we have been living in. Owners can now contour the BAS sector of their properties to the digital footprint of their overall businesses much easier. There, they can start to truly evaluate the purposes and satisfaction of the spaces they serve: The experience of their tenants. All while positioning themselves toward future success in laying out new technologies for their building(s).

So, what do these concepts mean: analytics, machine learning, data twinning, and A.I.?

Well, kind of everything, especially when it comes to the future of the industry. You thought just FDD and analytics were cool? With all the trapped data stuck in low bandwidth now accessible and sharable in mass with any software, I expect by 2025 we’ll see a services renaissance period for BAS like we’ve never seen before, where buildings become scary smart and even more efficient.

The era of limitations is over! From the boundaries of pressure readings to the confines of BAS data innovation stymied by serial networks, it is time to rethink the paradigm when it comes to what BAS data we want and how it’s delivered. I’ll give you a hint as to what I’m thinking: We want it all and we want it now!

This article originally appeared in the December issue of AutomatedBuildings.com. See the original article in its entirety at https://automatedbuildings.com/news/dec21/articles/scott/211129073201scott.html