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BMS and ePMS Integration
New Technology Offers More Open Choices For An Operations Centric Solution.
By Jeff Farlow, President, Envirotrol, LLC

I am a facilities operator at heart. If I could affect industry change based on new technology and be a mission critical operator, I would be all in...but I can't. Unfortunately, Mission Critical Operations at the operator level is like playing a hand of 5 card stud poker. You always end up having to play the hands you were dealt.

Fortunately in the Mission Critical world, nothing stays absolute forever and there are some interesting tools coming out that if applied on the front side of a new facility or facility retrofit, can dramatically increase the opportunity to apply more flexibility in Facility Operations than was ever previously available.

The Key to these new tools is a hot topic in the MC world and that is Open Interoperable Systems or OIS. In a previous world, open systems meant a system that can talk to anything. That unfortunately was more often than not, a one way conversation. More and more, the market has driven this to include the ability to talk to and listen to other products equally.

On the BMS side of the world, we have found the closest thing that we could to provide a solution to match the new definition of open systems and that is Tridium. We purchase our Tridium products through an integration and control platform called Distech Controls. Distech manufactures BacNet and Lonworks compliant DDC controls and their programing tools are available for all to download and use for service or commissioning. The Tridium component of the Distech offering is as "Tridium" as it can get, just relabeled hardware.

The Distech distribution network is as non-regionally protected as there is in the DDC world. We have multiple Distech integrators and distributors in our regional area and we complete with them on services and installations where ever we go.

For our PLC control of Critical Cooling Plants, we use Allen Bradley controls for exactly the same reason. Allen Bradley equipment and software tools are available to anyone that is ready to buy.

On the ePMS side, another company has opened the deliverable in a similar way. Power Analyticsš has been providing design software for use in engineering for years and is a recognized leader in this field. Recently, they came up with a plan to take the base electrical design simulation and apply real time data on top of it then measure and report the difference. The result is Paladin®Live™ which is a model based analytic that provides real-time electrical system performance to as-designed objectives, bringing unprecedented predictability and manageability to dynamic electrical networks.

So getting back to the "I am an Operator" part, I have observed the significant disconnect in Mission Critical Building Management and Power Management Systems. The current deliverable is driven in many cases by the electrical equipment manufacturers that provide proprietary software solutions to manage their equipment.

On the Power Management Side, most electrical equipment manufacturers have their own proprietary software PMS solution. Even if you employ a conventional, non-equipment centric PMS solution, getting them to integrate with the BMS side is essentially non-existent (even if they are owned by the same parent company). This is a ridiculous market driven phenomena and is not in line with providing the mission critical facility operator with a consistent Automation platform for both the Mechanical and Electrical sides of the house.

Because the Power Analytics™ Paladin® solution is an html web based deliverable, Envirotrol and PA came together to provide a one stop shop for Facility Operations called iMS360°. iMS stands for Integrated Management System and the 360 is indicative of the 360° view of the facility equipment that this integrated system affords the operator.

So here is how it works:

Envirotrol, LLC's team of hardware integration engineers get to work coordinating protocols and the physical cabling back into the Distech Brand EC-BOS routers (Tridium JACES). The reason we use the EC-BOS is that it allows us to take multiple communication platforms and turn them into common language objects. On the mechanical and electrical sides, we may be integrating with Chillers with BacNet or LonWorks, VFD and other electrical equipment with ModBus, and some equipment may have proprietary protocols for which we can either buy or write a patch driver for.

There is an a primary advantage in collecting this integrated equipment information this way and that is the economy of having a single contractor provide the integration network under a common architecture (read: lower installed cost). In the current state, there are two integration contractors providing and installing two separate integration architectures, one for the Mechanical and Building Services and the other for Electrical. This may be an inefficient deliverable. On the Enterprise Software Side, there are two servers each running its respective enterprise software. On the electrical side, the integrated electrical information is provided to the PowerAnalytics™ Paladin Live™ server. On the Mechanical and Facility Services Side, the integrated information is sent to the Distech EC-NET AX (Tridium) server.

The Power Analytics™ Paladin® Live system applies the PA metrics analyzing the electrical model and continuously applies the live actual electrical data and provides this conditioned information back to the EC-NET AX server. Envirotrol then creates operator centric user interface graphics using both the mechanical and electrical data on the same platform to give the operator a completely integrated common system for which to operate the facility.

The result is the iMS360° product. One user interface for the entire facility using the award winning Paladin® software metrics with the extremely flexible and simple to use Envirotrol user interface...and at a lower installed cost. I love technology.

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