Tag Archives: Building Controls

US Building Automation Market Primed for Growth

Could Help Commercial Structures Cope with Rising Energy Costs
The U.S. market for building automation equipment is set to grow by more than 40 percent within a five-year period ending in 2017, spurred by the need in commercial buildings for more efficient energy consumption, according to a new report from IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS).

With electricity rates on the rise, driven by increasing wholesale prices and investments in renewable sources of energy, demand for lower energy consumption in buildings is bound to occur, the findings in the report entitled “Building Automation Equipment” suggest.

All told, the U.S. building automation systems market will reach a projected $1.65 billion by year-end, up 5 percent from $1.57 billion in 2012. Solid growth ranging from 7 to 9 percent will follow in the next four years, with industry revenue forecast to hit $2.24 billion by 2017, equivalent to a 43 percent increase from 2012, as shown in the below figure.

The spiraling cost of electricity is a major factor in the operational efficiency of a commercial building structure, which explains why building automation systems could play an important role. Prices for U.S. retail electric power will increase by 8 percent from 2012 to 2020, IHS CERA forecasts, with a sizable proportion of the increase in price related to the investments being made by the market in renewable energy.

A similar story is unfolding in Germany, where the Energiewende policy is promoting the move away from nuclear and fossil-fuel power generation and toward renewable sources of energy. Such investments are driving up the cost of energy overall and adding pressure to the already stretched operational budgets of many commercial and government organizations.

“With budgets cut and many large companies struggling to grow at more than 5 percent on an annual basis, the higher cost of electricity could prove to be a major headache for commercial and government building owners,” said Sam Grinter, market analyst for the Building Technologies group at IHS.
The solution to rising energy prices

In particular, buildings consume huge quantities of energy through heating, ventilation and cooling, Grinter noted. “Making buildings as efficient as possible is crucial to driving down energy consumption. And one way to increase energy efficiency is to install an integrated building automation system,” Grinter noted.

Building automation systems centrally manage the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems of a structure. Compared to more basic mechanisms, building automation systems can save a considerable amount of energy consumption, via scheduled periods of heating or through cooling controlled by a thermostat, to cite two examples. Some vendors of building automation systems claim that energy savings of more than 30 percent can be obtained when evaluated against conventional HVAC systems.

This is why building owners will increasingly look to building automation systems to achieve savings on energy consumption, especially as the cost of electricity keeps going up, IHS believes.

www.ihs.com

7 Keys To Successful Building Automation

Automation Integrator Guide: Successful automation projects contain these seven elements. How many will your next project contain?

Congratulations on your decision to automate. You want to build it faster, build it better, and build it safer. But with so many potential automation solutions available, it can be overwhelming for an engineering team to decide where to start. Once you have justified the need for automation, feasibility, and payback to your business, you are faced with a difficult question: How do you ensure your road to automation is successful?

Seven keys to successful automation follow.

1. People communication

Communication among all stakeholders is paramount. When creating system requirements for the automation solution, the various teams involved must work hand-in-hand. Clear and open communication may seem like an obvious key to success, but too often teams are not brought together until late in the automation process.

Each stakeholder will have different goals in mind. The quality team wants zero defects, the production team wants output increased, IT wants a sustainable and maintainable solution. Before you know it, an operator at the end of the line has an error-proofing application, a shipping application, and an inventory application all running on the same computer, yet none of the systems communicate. The operator is left to manually transfer data between the three systems, and operations become less efficient than pre-automation.

By working with all the teams from the start, you will be in a better position to make sure the solution accounts for the perspectives of all parties involved, and also meets as many requirements as possible. A system integrator can often act as a mediator to help remove the politics from meeting all stakeholder goals and assist in solving what can sometimes seem to be contrasting goals to create a solution that works for all.

When trying to collaborate with teams, one of the largest communication issues we see as an integrator is scheduling. It is difficult to free up all of your team members to be in the same place at the same time. Consider meeting off-site with all of the stakeholders and away from the production facility at the start of the project. Simply removing people from their day-to-day chaos allows the team to focus on the problem at hand. Most likely no one will be able to be away for more than a day or two, but the tight timeline to develop requirements will keep everyone’s focus razor sharp.

2. System communication

You may already have some automated processes in place, but these processes are often developed independently from one another and may not communicate with each other. System segregation leads to data segregation. Data segregation leads to inefficiencies and manual reconciliation, which can cause data loss or, worse yet, data corruption. To avoid this, you want to store as much data as possible in a normalized manner and in a centralized location.

To accomplish this, integration and automation should go hand-in-hand. Getting two automated systems to communicate can be just as important, if not more important, than automating a single process. A system that is a “black box” provides little value if it cannot communicate with other systems.

3. Standardized processes

Before addressing the potential automation of the manufacturing process, you should first standardize the process. Standardization of the process allows for reduced variation and reduced operator training, and aids in root cause analysis.

Without standardized manufacturing processes it can be difficult to identify how automation should be implemented. If you have “loose” processes in place, an automation project is the perfect opportunity to address standardization. Usually this occurs a naturally as a side benefit associated with automation. Let standardizing the manufacturing process help drive the automation process and vice versa.

4. Standardized (yet flexible) framework

When you are developing standards for your framework, focus on the data that is most important. Force the team to keep the same important pieces of data as a baseline for your enterprise to build on. By developing standard interfaces for systems, you can create a model framework for other facilities. Avoid making the framework too rigid so that it can be flexible enough to apply across operations.

With a standardized framework, your team shouldn’t be as bogged down determining how to implement a solution. Instead, they will be focused on developing solutions that will promote production innovation. A standardized framework promotes collaboration so that groups work together, share information, and are positioned for success.

5. Standardized data

Data is king in today’s manufacturing environment. For that reason, you want to avoid proprietary and closed systems as much as possible. Focus on getting, keeping, and sharing your data. You likely already have proprietary systems in place to solve manufacturing problems, and minimizing manual transfers of information between these systems is crucial. Automating important transfers between systems allows employees to focus on their job instead of the white noise.

6. Pick your integration strategy, not your solution, first

Identifying what data you expect your automation solution to provide before you select a solution will also help minimize inefficiencies. All too often clients decide on a solution before they have outlined what data they need. This can lead to two potential downfalls. Either the solution needs to be vastly modified to meet the requirements, or the solution cannot be changed and some of the requirements simply are not met.

The more industry knowledge you can obtain about what solutions are available, the better. This is where a true systems integrator should be able to help. A systems integrator should be able to match a solution to specific goals. Whether it is a custom software solution or an off-the-shelf software package, you want established business processes dictating software solutions used, not vice versa. Keep in mind that whatever solution is selected, it should be a solid and expandable one that the team in place can build upon.

7. Commitment to support

Consider who the end owner will be. Whoever will be supporting the automation solution, the infrastructure, and software should have buy-in from the start that the solution is both maintainable and supportable from a technological standpoint.

Over the past 10 years there has been a transition from the manufacturing team managing software solutions to IT managing the software solutions. While it may be the manufacturing team developing the automation systems, it is more frequently the IT team’s responsibility to maintain the system. With IT becoming such a key player in the process, it is important to get them involved early and often. By including IT at the beginning of the process, you can help ensure a smooth transition from conception to production.

An automation project can seem daunting, especially when you are faced with legacy systems, siloed teams, minimal framework, and varied processes. But if done correctly, automation can provide all the benefits to build it faster, better, and safer. With some planning, standardization, and communication, and maybe a little help from an integrator, the automation project should be headed for success.

Article By:

– Chris Mikola is a project manager at Leidos, formerly part of SAIC. He currently directs the software programming group within Leidos Engineering’s systems division. The programming group specializes in quality information systems, real time production information systems, and custom software development. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer, mhoske(at)cfemedia.com.

Energy Savings: the Data Are in the Details

Energy managers know that every commercial building is complex. The upside to that complexity is that many of these buildings offer large energy efficiency potential. Through identifying efficiency opportunities in thousands of commercial buildings to-date, we have confirmed a simple premise. A commercial building’s energy use data set is like a fingerprint: no two are exactly alike.

With that in mind, energy managers need a smart strategy for understanding and capturing efficiency opportunities. Here are a few tips:

1)     Don’t just look across the road – A recent slew of energy management tools suggest that energy managers can design energy efficiency strategies based on comparisons to buildings with a similar size and use-profile. Don’t be tempted to compare your efficiency achievements with building operators overseeing other properties.

Our research has shown that ‘like-building’ hypothesis may prove true for the residential sector or the smallest commercial buildings such as pizza shops. But for most of the commercial sector, even very similar buildings can have vastly different energy-use profiles, and it’s important to tailor your strategy accordingly.  Take for example the two buildings highlighted in the infographic below, both of which operate near Chicago with similar sizes, sources of heating/power, assets, and Energy Use Intensity. Their strong resemblance on the surface disappears with a deeper dive into the building’s true energy usage patterns.

While a “like-building” analysis using benchmarks or past databases might suggest that these buildings have similar opportunities, in fact, Building #1 has nearly twice the annual savings potential as Building #2.  It also has more operationally-focused energy conservation opportunities coming from lighting controls, HVAC/plug controls and cooling set points. In contrast, Building #2 would benefit most from a lighting retrofit, making its energy reduction opportunity more about asset improvements than about operational changes.

Looking even deeper, an even larger difference is noticed in how energy is used throughout the building. Cooling usage dominates Building #2 (48% vs. 18%), while Building #1 has more usage going to lighting and plug loads. These breakdowns are part of what drives the differences in recommendations.  It’s worth noting that these unique building results came from advanced analytics applied to their meter data, leading us to the next tip…

Every Building Has Its Own Story To Tell

If all buildings have their own story to tell, how can you effectively approach each and every one?

2)     Real data doesn’t lie – Greater availability of high frequency consumption data coming from commercial building utility meters, coupled with recent advancements in data analytics provides a completely new way to understand energy performance. This data is just as available as square footage and EUI, but much, much richer.  Using consumption data as a starting point for understanding your usage gets you to the source of energy (in)efficiencies. It is not uncommon for data analytics to uncover, for example, a simultaneous heating and cooling issue that a building operator is adamant doesn’t exist. That is, until he goes and double checks the air conditioning systems.  You can’t hide from what the data reveals.  Although it may be uncomfortable to see the truth,data and advanced analytics provide great insights into ways to save energy and money in your building.

3)     Go deep and be objective – not wide and subjective. Many energy efficiency initiatives start with an audit, so the quality of information gained from that step is critical. Sending in a team of people with hard hats and clipboards to record the minutiae of energy use, from how often the mechanical equipment is shut down to how many times the building automation system is manually overridden, may be the first choice. However, in some situations, it may not be the best. Besides being an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, those kinds of audits may be led by individuals with differing experience, motivation, and techniques.  Numerous studies have shown that onsite audits yield highly inconsistent results, mostly because it’s hard to make consistent auditors.

Think about audit partners that can strive for objective consistency each and every time they analyze a building. There are firms that can provide that level of deep and specific building detail without requiring all those boots on the ground. An even better approach may be to perform the analytics first and then provide those results to the energy audit team, therefore enhancing the overall process.

4)     Put your utilities on speed dial – It is becoming common knowledge that many utility companies have significant monetary incentives for increasing building energy efficiency. So, it’s time to take full advantage. Every commercial energy manager should know who runs the efficiency programs within their utility providers, and should be in regular touch to better understand their buildings’ energy use profiles and savings opportunities, and available incentives.

Like all relationships, however, the energy manager-utility relationship is a two-way street. The better data and insight that utilities have on your energy usage, the better job they can do to help you realize savings. As the infographic above contends, every commercial building in a utility’s portfolio is different, and you should look to partner with your utility to identify the right kinds of operational and asset-based cost savings opportunities.

5)     Go public. Making your buildings’ energy performance part of everyone’s business is, well, good business. Providing energy audit results to your constituents – from tenants’ facility personnel to your preferred energy contractors to your own CFO – is crucial in ensuring that efficiency projects don’t fall by the wayside.

Why is transparency so important? Because it enables you to demonstrate not just the hows of energy efficiency (e.g., turning off the lights at 6:00 p.m. will save 10,000 kWh of energy) but also thewhys (e.g., turning off the lights at 6:00 p.m. saved the company $1,500 in energy costs last month, enabling us to purchase better equipment for our staff or our tenants). Most important, making energy use and savings data available helps make a stronger business case for energy efficiency projects.

Every building has its own story to tell, and the plotline is in the detail revealed through analytics. Data that lives deep within the lighting, power, HVAC and water systems in every building should be mined, analyzed and presented in a way that shows the value that energy efficiency projects can unlock. By looking at each building’s unique energy fingerprint, you can find hidden opportunities for efficiency and cost savings without always having to putting on a hardhat.

Article By: Swapnil Shah is CEO of FirstFuel.

The Delta Controls Difference

We have been partnering with Delta Controls since the early 90’s to provide tailored and custom solutions for your building of facilities. We wanted to take a few moments to highlight: …how Delta Controls isn’t just another controls company.

THE DELTA DIFFERENCE

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Delta Controls is the benchmark for controls manufacturers being one of the most respected organizations in our industry. The integrity, reliability, innovation and track record of Delta Controls differentiates us from the crowd. End-Users build their infrastructure around Delta Controls products, our Partner organizations and Delta Controls innovation. At the root of all this success is our people. They use technology to create products that are simple, yet powerful enough to inspire integration upon which infrastructures and businesses to be built. Delta Controls takes an ethical and long-term view to business and to relationships. We strive to continue to be the benchmark, to do it right and do the right thing by our customers, partners, employees and the environment we live in. This stance builds relationships, creates open partnerships and embraces open technologies, allowing freedom of choice to both end-users and partners alike.

DO IT RIGHT

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At Delta Controls, the mantra Do It Right is the “how”. It is how we design, manufacture and support our products. It is how we serve our customers. It is how we treat our employees, partners and vendors. And it is how we view business in general and respect the planet we live on.

The company was founded by two partners, who sought a better way of doing business. More than 3 decades ago, they built their own product range, to ensure a customer’s needs were met when others had walked away. This same attitude inspired Delta to take and maintain its leading role in the development of the open BACnet protocol, as well as create the most robust line of BACnet products in the industry.
Everybody at Delta Controls knows what Do It Right means to them. Do It Right is a badge that employees wear with pride. It is a culture upon which innovation is created, businesses are built and long-term relationships are formed.

EARTHRIGHT SUSTAINABILITY

Our world is changing. The availability of our natural resources is being threatened. The conservation of energy is key to our future as the costs of supply rise each day. One company has consistently cared about our changing world. Not just in what it produces, but the way it conducts its business.
Long before creating Delta Controls, its co-founders realized the importance of saving energy. As consultants during the energy crisis of the 1970s, they conducted audits to help buildings save energy and money. Seeing a market need for products, they developed them, installed them, and reduced energy costs by up to 60% in customer’s buildings. Since 1980, they have been doing much the same thing the world over under the banner of Delta Controls.
Today, Delta Controls continues that philosophy. Our Earthright product features, Energy Dashboards and Apps to help customers reduce energy consumption. Our low carbon footprint HQ has natural ventilation, natural lighting and ground source heat pumps including 84 wells under the parking lot. We recycle all possible materials from our manufacturing facility and even our product packaging has green credentials. All our staff is encouraged to stay fit and healthy (using our gym and various evening classes). And everyone joins in the many charitable functions that make a contribution to making the world a better place.
Our environment is beautiful. Our energy resource is precious and it’s our responsibility to help it stay that way. Do it right with a green, responsible company producing energy saving solutions… an organization business leaders worldwide are proud to partner with.

FREEDOM OF CHOICE

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Delta Controls believes that building owners and managers should be able to use the best technology for their buildings, no matter where it’s produced. This is why we have been on the leading edge of developing the open BACnet protocol from the beginning.
Delta Controls gives you the freedom to integrate. Whether you’re overseeing a small office building or a large university campus, you can control all your building functions—HVAC, lighting, access, CCTV and more. Delta Controls designed the first native BACnet access control and lighting system. Delta can seamlessly integrate systems from different manufacturers so that they talk to one another. With a BACnet system you’re not held captive by a proprietary system and are free to choose the best technology available that meets your particular requirements and budgets.
We believe that customers should be free to choose the product they wish rather than be handcuffed to a single manufacturer’s product offerings. BACnet Open Protocol systems give you this freedom of choice. At Delta Controls we have a world-wide network of Partner organizations that can serve you locally and understand your building and the application required to make your control system a success.

DELIVERING REDUCED COSTS

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An integrated system, across HVAC, access control, lighting, CCTV etc saves you money. During installation, the number of networks can be reduced. The amount of project coordination, training, documentation and other duplicated effort is less.
Integrated systems have lower life cycle costs. Access control and occupancy detection can help reduce energy consumption. System maintenance routines can be reduced through cooperation between different customer departments. An understanding of a building’s processes will allow the Delta Controls Partner to create an efficient and thus economical system for end-users.
A choice of Partner promotes value for money to the customer. A good local relationship allows your chosen Partner organization to apply our flexible programming language and a wide range of HMI such as our 7” touch screen to suit the needs of your building.
Finally, our products last. Proven to be reliable and protect a client’s investment over the years. The Delta Controls system is scalable and flexible and will grow as your organization grows.

If you would like to learn more please visit: Delta Controls here or contact a Setpoint Systems Corporation Account manager here to talk about tailored solutions for your facility or building.

Welcome To Setpoint Systems Corporation Blog

Welcome!

We are so pleased to see you here, and to have the opportunity to connect with you. We are so excited to have this new blog, and looking forward to the conversations it creates. The goals for this blog are simple. We want to engage with you, our audience in a new way. We want to provide you with content that really means something to you, and you can read time and time again.

Here at Setpoint Systems we have a very diverse and knowledgeable workforce, in which we are very proud. Our workforce is full of passionate and driven individuals that breath the building system integration, and HVAC industry.

We are taking that passion and utilizing it to engage and educate you. We believe in transparency, and excellence in our work. We have a lot to share, and we are so thankful for the opportunity to share this with you.

As this blog develops, and our authors grow the wealth of information that will be found here will be an invaluable resource.

I want to take a moment to introduce some content you can expect from our blog:

We have a dedicated training department, that we use to empower our customers. So you can truly learn and understand your systems, and how to effectively utilize it for your building or site. Our trainer, is in our humble opinion top notch. Our Training Department will post content here pretty often. Things like: Delta System Tips, Training Updates, and fantastic articles about the industry.

Training is just the surface, here at Setpoint Systems we have had the pleasure of working on some pretty amazing projects. Projects like: DaVita, eBay Data Centers, Verizon Data Centers, ViaWest, Lockheed Martin, Jefferson County School District, Buckley Air Force Base, and many more. We have solved many problems, and learned along the way. We would love to share these experiences with you, as they have been very exciting.

We also have an amazing in house service department, that always have great things to share about warranty updates, and general service, and part related information. Trust us, you’ll want to follow posts by our service department, they know their stuff.

We pride ourselves on our customer service, and dispatch department. We would love to share some of our best practices, and industry knowledge that has contributed to our success.

I look forward to the conversations we will have. Follow us, Engage with us, Give us feedback, we’re all ears open.

 

Visit us online at: www.setpointsystems.com