Automation systems help to reduce the costs of using, managing and maintaining buildings.
Automation involves the creation of a centralised system, hardware and software, for the monitoring and control of the various systems that make up a building.
When we speak of a building, we are referring to any type of construction: industrial warehouses, commercial premises, sports centres, teaching, health, cultural and leisure facilities, public administrations, etc.
An automated building is an smart building because it makes it possible to satisfy, in an automated and controlled manner and not in person, the demands of security, energy efficiency, comfort, mechanical activities, maintenance or other operations, in accordance with current legal regulations.
The evolution of smart buildings
Initially it was enough to control HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems in order to maintain optimum temperature and consumption conditions, but this is no longer sufficient. The growing number of devices connected to the network that we find in buildings today makes it necessary to have greater control over them and their consumption. Lighting, lifts, alarms, accesses… are already managed centrally, turning on at arrival or activating the alarm at departure.
Both new and old buildings are relying on automation to make building operations more efficient, economical and safe.
Development of building management and automation there are several key terms that, with the rapid evolution suffered in recent years, have ended up overlapping and in many cases are used interchangeably. The reality is that these concepts refer to different things:
- Building Management System (BMS) and Building Control System (BCS). They are used to refer to the systems that control the facilities of a building.
- Building automation system (BAS). This is the name given to the set of management and control systems mentioned above, which can be part of a larger BMS or BCS system.
- Energy Management System (EMS) and Energy Management Control System (EMCS). These systems deal specifically with energy consumption.
Elements that build an automation system
- Sensors, collectors and detectors. They transmit signals to the central processing unit, measuring values such as room occupation, temperature, humidity, light intensity, etc.
- Controllers. They take data from the collectors and decide, after configuration defined by the building manager, how the system should respond.
- Output devices. They are responsible for executing the action launched by the controller.
- Communication protocols. This is the “language” in which the BAS components communicate.
- Control panel or user interface. Control panel that managers use to interact with the BAS. It manages and displays all system data. It helps to define patterns with which to anticipate the needs of the moment.
Reasons to install an automation system
The advantages of installing an automation system are multiple, among which we must highlight:
- Greater control and efficiency of the installation. The monitoring and centralised control of the devices that make up the installation makes it possible to increase its operational efficiency, by having active control of all its conditions: breakdown of parts, maintenance, etc. In addition, an automated building learns, optimises and predicts situations, which facilitates rapid decision-making on any of its systems.
- It is cost-saving. Efficiency goes hand in hand with savings. Not only in cost reduction of the energy bill (to which correspond the highest expenses associated with a building) but also those generated by failures in the associated services. Various sources indicate that these systems contribute to reducing the cost of energy generated by a building by up to 40%.
- Comfort for users. The control of the temperature of the rooms, the lighting (natural or by means of lamps), its intensity, the ventilation, the switching on and off of alarms, lifts, even equipment, access control systems, etc. will be carried out automatically. Various studies confirm that all these elements influence the health and well-being of workers by increasing their individual productivity.
- Commitment to the environment. Automation systems improve the energy efficiency of installations by contributing to reducing the energy consumption of buildings and thus their impact on the environment. They also offer the opportunity to manage consumption in an efficient manner, much more in line with current directives, thus being able to achieve the relevant certifications.
Automation is the key element of smart buildings, thanks to new technologies and the growing advantages offered by the internet of things. Automated buildings make it easier for their owners to make strategic decisions by giving them more detailed control of their facilities.