October 2011


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EMAIL INTERVIEW - David Oshoway & Ken Sinclair

David Oshoway, Integration Division, Practice Lead, Canem Systems Ltd.

David Oshoway has been application engineer for companies such as Honeywell Ltd., Energrated Systems (Delta Controls), Energetic Concepts Ltd and Canem Systems for the past 27 years. With a strong electrical/mechanical background David has combined computer skills, database design, systems knowledge and engineering to move into open platform integration of building control systems, energy engineering and specification writing.

A Vendor Neutral Integrator

Building systems integration is a natural progression
to tie all that they offered as an electrical contractor.

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Sinclair:  Since our last interview in September of 2009 what have you been up to?

Oshoway:  Since we last discussed the acquisition of Richards-Zeta by Cisco Systems much has changed. My company, Energetic Concepts Ltd was acquired by Canem Systems Ltd. who I now work for as the Practice Lead of the Systems Integration Division.

Sinclair:  So Canem Systems has expanded from electrical contracting into systems integration?

Oshoway:  Yes and more. Canem has always been good at electrical and data systems installations and now sees a logical fit with building systems integration. It is a natural progression to tie all that they offer together. 

Sinclair:  What are these other offerings?

Oshoway:  The other divisions include lighting, security, data centres, roll outs, facilities life cycle management, financial modeling as well as HVAC automation. 

Sinclair:  How does integration tie these together?

Oshoway:  We have been working for several years now transforming from a simple open platform host in buildings using Cisco Mediator, to become a remote cloud service encompassing an application engine, a portal with tools and an open platform database which we host for our clients. The portal is a matrix which provides security and a path for the user based on email address and password to the correct site(s) they are authorized for. The portal provides a graphic interface and tools to access the database for trend logs, energy charts, alarm logs, trouble tickets, operator logs, alarm logs and of course financial dashboards. 

Sinclair:  What is the purpose of collecting all of this data from all the systems into a database?

Oshoway:  Data such as meter readings, energy alerts, trend logs, trouble tickets, operator logs, alarm logs, health of devices and financial information is collected on a regular interval from points in the building systems.

All of this data is used to construct useful information in the form of reports, energy charts, life cycle reports and more. The life cycle log of the facility operations and performance will contribute to upgrading the value of a facility by providing energy and maintenance profiles similar to the log entries of service done on aircraft.

Sinclair:  We understand integration of building systems but what is financial integration?

Oshoway:  There are three layers of integration. Layer one is specification writing to bring the silos (HVAC, Electrical and Information Transport Systems) together. The second layer is integration of all building system disciplines and manufacturers. The third layer is financial integration. Financial integration is the ability to offer a real time score card to the Chief Financial Officer and others to track how the facility is operating based on their input of costs and revenue, variable costs from metering input and carbon costs all converted to operating dollars and continuously stored in a database for the life cycle of the facility.

Sinclair:  How do you keep financial information safe when it is accessed from the portal?

Oshoway:  The application engine portal is encrypted (https://) as is banking information when accessing a bank account  over the internet.

Sinclair:  Why Vendor Neutral?

Oshoway:  Canem Systems is not an equipment manufacturer so we have no vested interest in selling a particular product family of devices. This is what separates us from the Vendors as a Vendor neutral Integrator. We invite Vendors to install their equipment in our Centre and book time with their clients to show case. We offer our clients the ability to come into our Centre for Building Performance to review and compare the performance of different manufacturer’s systems. The client can review a complete system from a manufacturer or choose multi vendor components to complete a best in class or least expensive in class model for their facility. Some clients will choose more than one system for purposes of Bid Specification.

Sinclair:  As a Cloud Service what do you offer?

Oshoway:  As a Cloud Service we offer our clients remote monitoring and analysis with first response to alarms and operator trouble tickets. The trouble ticket system allows operators to book a trouble ticket which is entered into the database with an automated response and our monitoring centre responds with analysis and solution usually within an hour. If a problem requires more in depth solution we will get the operator involved and last course of action we will attend with an onsite visit. This procedure usually saves the cost of onsite visits, travel and truck charges. 

As a Cloud service we also host an open platform database to securely store all the data from a client’s facility. The control website we create for the facility is complimented by the data storage and creates what we call TBIS (Total Building Information System) profiling the building operations, maintenance records and energy usage for the life cycle of the facility. This record log increases the value of the facility over time as it proves the facilities condition and efficiency.  

Sinclair:  Are the ITS, Electrical and Mechanical Consultants receptive to the Integration process?

Oshoway:  The integrator’s place is at the design table to coordinate and insure all of the consultants are working in harmony. However it is difficult to break into the traditional model. Of the consultants we have spoken to they are in favour of the change to the standard boiler plate they usually provide. There have been some signs of stress as to the process of the integrator interfering with their direct control of vendors. This is the reason for writing the National Master Code plug-in. Once the consultants have agreed and their specifications have been modified by the plug-in they will realize they have more control over their vendors and increased cooperation with consultants of different divisions. The integrator will no longer be intervening in their business because of devices not being compatible. It’s a win-win for everyone concerned and the integrator does not have to be at the design table.

Sinclair:  What about the cost of completely integrated facilities with remote monitoring and all the information collection to database for life cycle?

Oshoway:  Well, the cost of duplication is avoided, it uses one common cabling system instead of several, POE (power over Ethernet) is more efficient than power wiring to devices and open protocols allow the versatility of interchange ability in manufacturer’ products. The facility is basically future proofed and when you include life cycle costs it is less expensive over time.

It’s like the automobile industry. There is a balance of what people are willing to pay and how they perceive value. Once you drive an automobile with automatic windows, cruise control, back up cameras, GPS navigation, adaptive cruise control and better fuel economy would you go back to a model with role up windows and none of the above? Especially if they removed the dashboard so you have no idea of what speed or how much gas you are using?

Sinclair:  What about existing systems?

Oshoway:  The intent of writing a plug-in specification to the National Master Specification is to move the commercial buildings industry into a position with the future in mind. From this point forward, the specification is designed to move away from RS485 sub networks such as BACnet MSTP and ModBus RTU to an open platform with protocols such as BACnet IP, ModBus IP and LonWorks IP and TCP/IP which utilize the ITS (Information Transport System) infrastructure common to most buildings. There are different models whether fibre pairs are dedicated to separate switches for building systems in common ITS closets or share common fibre backbone and be integrated and firewalled from secure ITS operations. Any existing building systems will have to be audited to determine if their life is extendable. Many systems are capable of being assimilated as a legacy network to extend their life cycle.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Sinclair:  Will you maintain the existing RS485 networks such as BACnet MSTP?

Oshoway:  Yes. The existing subnets such as BACnet MSTP are compatible but not future worthy in new construction. In ten years we believe most manufacturers will be using ITS common infrastructure ports or wireless on their devices. Where wireless is not feasible a retrofit will have to include upgrading RS485 wiring to CAT6 or higher to conform. In the life cycle picture it is more economical to plan and install ITS wiring once instead of RS485 wiring now and retrofitting new infrastructure later. Take for instance the ITS closets and racks. If they are not designed for the future how will you add switches to a full rack? Was the ITS Backbone designed with future pairs or not? It becomes a major problem.

Sinclair:  What have you seen in lighting technology?

Oshoway:  Lately we have seen a shift from proprietary systems to open platform IP addressable ballasts and even LED technology that a dimmable LED lamp will be served directly from the ITS switch with POE (power over Ethernet). The POE switches are now capable of 25.5 watts at 48 volts. Future versions are pushing 60 watts which will power two 28 watt LEDs from one switch port.

Sinclair:  How about Security Systems?

Oshoway:  Security systems have not paid much attention to sharing information in the past as they tend to think in terms of keeping everybody outside. However, we have developed interfaces to specific systems to read the event messages and control lighting and HVAC. Newer designs have a more open platform that allows us to interface via TCP/IP, BACnet IP and OBIX making the task much easier to read and respond to the event messages.

Sinclair:  How about Interfaces?

Oshoway:  At present we are using I-phones, I-Pads, PCs, Laptops and Digital media of all types such as touch screens. It is really interesting to see the ability of a security guard walking the facility with an I-pad supporting multiple camera views instead of monitoring in a security office which required many screens. Another scenario is an operator changing a setpoint in a fan room on his I-phone and receiving email alarms without having to return to the operator station to view alarms. It frees up operators time.

Sinclair:  To conclude?

Oshoway:  We are now into a major paradigm shift from standalone systems to one inclusive system. The last major paradigm shift was in the 1980s when the commercial industry went from 45 years of pneumatic control to electronic control. Many stakeholders sat back and waited to see if electronics would pan out. Now pneumatic control has faded into obsolescence. It took years for innovation oriented companies to prove the benefits and now electronics are common place. The same obsolescence will happen to standalone systems. But in the facility life cycle costing they will be more expensive to replace than to go forward now.


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