Close this search box.

Universal Automation.The New Paradigm in the Built Environment.

By Marc Petock, Vice President, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer Lynxspring

The operational technology landscape within the built environment is rapidly evolving and influenced by edge computing, IP, Cloud, new architectures, convergence, artificial intelligence, data, new protocols, cybersecurity, machine learning, and advanced analytics. Yet, automation, at the heart of converged operational technology, has remained unchanged for the past 25+ years.
In many cases, system integrators work with closed automation systems. However, they are being asked to do more—i.e., cut engineering time, manage the complexity of working with different hardware and software systems, and ensure the interoperability of systems from different providers.
A different approach to automation is needed to support digital transformation in buildings and continue to provide the agility and capabilities required to address today’s demands.

Enter Universal Automation

Within the built environment, universal automation refers to creating and delivering building automation that is standardized, interoperable, and applicable across a building’s operations. This approach aims to replace traditional, proprietary automation systems with more flexible, open, and future-proof solutions. Universal automation is often associated with implementing advanced technologies to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of automated processes.

Universal automation is easier to program, flexible, agile in its deployment, and portable across a facility. With app-like open software and hardware components, it provides system agility, operational efficiency, cross-platform support with OT integration, and data processing capabilities that were not previously available. With universal automation systems, integrators can mix and match solutions, which means they are no longer held back by closed or proprietary systems. Integral to this concept is an approach which includes these key features:

  1. Interoperability: Systems and devices from different manufacturers can seamlessly work together.
  2. Standardization: Use of common standards and protocols to ensure compatibility and ease of integration.
  3. Scalability: Solutions that can easily scale up or down based on the requirements.
  4. Flexibility: Ability to adapt to changing processes and incorporate modern technologies.
  5. Modularity: Components that can be easily added, removed, or upgraded.

So, what are the benefits and outcomes universal automation delivers:

  1. Increased Efficiency:
    • Reduced Downtime: Standardized systems are easier to troubleshoot and maintain, leading to less downtime.
    • Optimized Operations: Advanced algorithms and real-time data analysis improve process optimization.
  2. Cost Savings:
    • Lower Integration Costs: Reduced need for custom integrations and modifications.
    • Reduced Maintenance Costs: Standardized systems require less specialized maintenance.
  3. Enhanced Flexibility and Adaptability:
    • Easier Upgrades: Modern technologies and updates can be integrated without overhauling the entire system.
    • Adaptable Processes: Systems can be quickly reconfigured to accommodate new products or processes.
  4. Improved Data Utilization:
    • Better Decision-Making: Access to real-time data and advanced analytics aids in making informed decisions.
    • Predictive Maintenance: Use of AI and ML to predict failures before they occur, enhancing reliability.
  5. Futureproofing:
    • Technology Agnostic: Systems can integrate with various current and future technologies.
    • Longevity: Reduced risk of obsolescence due to adherence to open standards.
  6. Enhanced Collaboration:
    • Ecosystem Development: Encourages the development of a broad ecosystem of interoperable tools and applications.
    • Shared Innovations: Innovations and improvements can be more easily shared and adopted across different industries.
  7. Sustainability:
    • Energy Efficiency: Optimized operations can lead to significant energy savings.
    • Resource Management: Better monitoring and controlling resources lead to more sustainable practices.

With a universal automation approach, systems integrators, owners, and operators no longer need to consider individual devices, equipment and systems as representing a single function. Instead, they can think of capabilities such as open, scalable, agile, pooled resources and data residing on the automation network.  It optimizes engineering workflow and addresses complex, software-defined, interconnected challenges. It helps reduce engineering complexity, which reduces project risk, speeds up ROI, and allows for greater value within cost constraints for customers. Adoption of universal automation brings unprecedented engineering efficiency, scalability and automation agility to OT systems.

In summary, universal automation represents a significant shift towards more open, flexible, and efficient automation systems. These systems provide substantial benefits across the built environment by fostering interoperability, reducing costs, and enhancing operational capabilities.