The year 2015 has been a year of rapid development in emerging technologies that are transforming the building and infrastructure market. Communication protocols are now considered an essential part of the building automation and technology market. Standards and protocols are at the heart of interoperability in any industry. BaCnet, Lonmark, Modbus, and other proprietary protocols dominate the core infrastructure of the building automation system (BAS) networks.
Three decades ago, automation systems, such as sensors, control devices, and wiring, were installed around a single product from a single manufacturer. Initially, these protocols were proprietary to each manufacturer that would develop these systems. The protocols’ functionalities did not allow for open communication with other products without an interface or gateway. There was no single industry standard to follow and hence the facility owners found that the systems were incompatible with each other. Now, as the technology is becoming sophisticated and demand for interoperability is increasing, facilities executives prefer to adopt an open communication protocol that is compatible with all the existing systems in a facility. An open protocol is more flexible since it allows the vendor’s equipment to interoperate without a proprietary interface or gateway.
Market sentiments indicate that facility executives using the closed proprietary systems could accomplish interoperability if they allow their systems to be programmed on a single or a standardized platform that is compatible with other systems. Interoperable systems pose fewer challenges when they are based on a standard platform. With the aggressive development pace of technology, the building management community has benefitted tremendously from the use of communication protocols that can easily solve a plethora of facility issues related to building automation, energy management, and remote monitoring.
Technology and Convergence have led to ‘Smarter’ Industries
The future is here. With the quickened pace of high-tech advancement, building owners are aggressively adopting smart technology, which is integrated into almost every aspect of buildings and corresponding services. Commercial real estate companies, facility managers, and a large percentage of building owners believe that significant sustainability and return on investment (ROI) are achievable through innovative technologies that converge and have the capability of producing real-time metrics.
Frost & Sullivan’s research indicates that technology is creating a shift in the way buildings operate. Industry examples of industries where technological convergence is leading to smarter living and connectedness are provided below:
Light Emitting Diode (LED): Lighting consumes up to 20% of the total energy expended in commercial buildings, making it a significant cost driver for many enterprises. In the last couple of years, top-tier vendors have been expanding their product portfolios to offer a broader range of systems that are intelligent enough to reduce the energy costs of lighting in commercial buildings. The outlook for the LED lighting market remains bright. There are a number of Mega Trends that underlie the accelerated growth of this market. Population growth, urbanization, and smart technology are increasing the overall demand for lighting products. The advent of LED technology is set to transform the industry by introducing light as a service model which helps end users cut down upfront costs. Additionally, the convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and lighting controls has solved the challenges related to the integration of disparate automated systems such as lighting, HVAC controls, sensors, etc. The simple incorporation of ambient light, temperature, and occupancy sensors into the lighting system can provide useful data for the efficient running of automated security and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) applications. This creates operational efficiencies and improves worker productivity and financial performance.
Energy Management System (EMS): The EMS industry has created massive energy saving opportunities and operational efficiencies across various verticals. The emergence of cloud computing infrastructure and its associated services, such as software as a service (SaaS), are expected to deliver a technology leap for the EMS market at an accelerated rate. The industry will experience increased integration of hardware and software. Companies will most likely offer EMS services as part of their product portfolio.
Cyber Security: The continuously evolving digital technology has had a significant impact on cyber security. BAS’s integration with other network systems is making cyber security a growing concern. Data has gone digital and made it extremely easy for valuable information to be accessed by unauthorized entities. Data security has become an important issue for all companies as data breaches significantly impact consumer confidence and can bring about severe financial and reputational damage. The IoT market will, therefore, come up with more and more solutions to mitigate cyber threats. Frost and Sullivan analysis indicates that the global cyber security market will reach $155.0 billion by 2020.
Trends in Building and Home Automation
The building automation market has experienced a remarkable transition in the last 10 years. In recent years, the market has felt the impact of strict government initiatives, the growing demand for energy-efficient systems and solutions, and the increasing cost-saving needs of building and home owners. All these drivers have spurred the growth of the building and home automation market. Frost and Sullivan’s analysis indicates that the building automation market in North American will reach 2 billion by 2018, growing at a CAGR of 4%. Additionally, with the residential construction market picking up in North America, the demand for smart and connected devices and related services will increase.
IoT and cloud networking have enabled the home automation market to transition and offer a plethora of energy management and energy savings devices that have the ability to integrate and communicate with each other. Both the building and home automation markets have experienced interoperability, data analytics, and smart architecture. All the essential systems that were treated in silos are now being bought together. From HVAC to lighting, all elements that can generate data are being connected to analyze energy consumption or identify any system anomalies. The integration of sensors in lights and HVAC controls systems with BAS is one of the strongest examples of an intelligent infrastructure. With integration becoming more and more prevalent in new and old buildings alike, building owners main goals are:
- Energy efficiency
- Safety and security
- Occupants’ comfort
- Preventive maintenance
Commercial buildings account for 40% of the world’s energy use. Advanced HVAC and lighting control can cut energy costs significantly and enable energy efficiency without compromising tenant comfort. Building operators and facility managers are making sure to apply all building assets to full potential by leveraging BAS systems to full capacity. Once these systems are optimized, it can contribute to a 3-4% increase in employee productivity.
Since 2015, the industry is seeing easier solutions with more features and greater integration capabilities than ever before. The home automation industry is benefitting from 3 extremely important trends, namely, energy management technologies, connectedness and data analytics, and consolidations in the home market. IoT is a big piece of many home automation offerings today, but it’s not just about smart infrastructure. Manufacturers are also offering different types of services to their end users. This includes demand response programs, remote diagnostics and monitoring, and energy audits. The home automation market is also experiencing more market shifts with respect to acquisition. Vendors are making acquisitions to broaden their product range and become one-stop sources of energy management services and solutions.
Building and home automation technologies have the potential to significantly reduce energy waste worldwide. With the advent of IoT, it is easy to offer integration that enables the comprehensive optimization and automation of commercial and residential spaces. The integrated technologies have the capability to collect data from all sensors and devices and, with Big Data software or energy management tools, analyze all this data to immediately optimize and fully automate a building’s performance.