Award winning manufacturer of IT-based building automation.
|The Road to Transparency
in a World With Billions of IIoT Devices
CEO & President,
Last month, I wrote about how analytics creates transparency and the relevance of this for players in the building automation industry. The bottom line is that low-hanging fruit is there for businesses trying to make sense of the analytics trend sweeping the industry. If you had not read the piece, it would be helpful to do so to provide a context of this month’s perspectives (the article on this link).
Now we know that analytics is a real destination, we can focus on how to get to there, which is where IIoT comes in, the Commercial & Industrial big brother of the consumer IoT that is slowly creeping into our daily lives.
IIoT, IoT, and their elder cousin M2M have been around for a while now, since 2004 when many attended the inaugural M2M Expo in Dallas, TX. For the decade since, M2M/IoT have mainly been abstract concepts, a Jetsons futuristic world of talking home appliances and flying cars. Well, my friends, this futuristic world is emerging around us, “Alexa, please order laundry detergent.”
What makes IIoT different from IoT?
There is one
major way that IIoT is fundamentally different to the IoT. Since IoT is
for consumers, the aim is to make everything as much as possible be
plug-and-play. You buy a new IoT-enabled bathroom scale; you bring it
home, it connects to your WiFi, it contacts the cloud service that
manages your health and voilą, your weight is in the cloud. In IoT,
there is little configuration, and minimal dependence between devices,
they are mostly discrete. In other words, if an IoT-enabled toaster
breaks, it’s not likely to affect the operation of the bathroom scale.
IIoT systems in buildings, on the other hand,
are engineered systems. Each piece of equipment is configured,
installed, programmed to connect to and work in a specific building,
for a particular function with a unique set of other equipment in that
building. Building systems are created by humans, where there is ample
opportunity for installation errors, lack of training, manufacturing or
supply variances and misaligned business interests. There are also
changes in the needs of the facility, and the natural law of entropy to
mess things up (leaks, components breaking, low lubrication, wear, and
Of course, the primary purpose of a system is to
run the equipment in the building. But a key to the IIoT value
proposition is the ability to keep the system working at peak
performance for the building occupants over the life of the building.
You see, IIoT in buildings is a constantly evolving beast. The system
at initial commissioning is not the same as it is a few months and
years hence. Any system trying to analyze such a building needs to
adapt with little or no human interaction. Such a system has to model
the workings of HVAC and related equipment, understand their rules of
operation and determine the cause of any issues.
So, what makes up IIoT in buildings?
While IIoT is often discussed as an amorphous
creature, it’s not hard to break it down to key components, especially
in the context of buildings. This view is important since most of these
elements are quite easy for building automation experts to grasp and
How to tame this beast!
There is one aspect of IIoT that is worthy of
additional discussion; the size and scope of the problem. When BAS
professionals think of points, it’s quite natural to think about
specific points of some VAV or other devices. There may be a few, a
dozen or more points of relevance, and that is a very human scale. You
can write them down, enter into a spreadsheet and otherwise manipulate
When thinking about IIoT and the analytics necessary to perform in the cloud, the number of points dramatically increase to hundreds, thousands, and with massive facilities, it can be in the millions! At these quantities, it ceases to be a human-manageable set of data; it’s simply impractical to try and manage such a dataset in any traditional way.
Watch Maya’s Mickey McManus on the tyranny
of numbers https://goo.gl/Ovyqvp
To fully grasp the business opportunities
with IIoT in buildings, it is critical that you understand that it is
not possible to think about large-scale continuous and automatic
analytics the same way as thinking about the design, installation, and
maintenance of BAS devices and systems.
An entirely new approach is required for
this task, as outlined above. Thankfully, the BAS industry is well
prepared with nearly three decades of development, maturity and now
mass adoption of the BACnet standard. It’s interesting to see the long
ASHRAE standardization work now finally paying dividends in the new
world of IIoT.
We at Cimetrics believe that the formula
for this is quite simple.
Native BACnet + IIoT Models based Analytics = Business Opportunities
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