In the era of smart buildings, the building is the enterprise. To create a smart building strategy you must unify capabilities to control, monitor, and manage a multitude of energy-related applications – from lighting to thermostats to CO2 sensors – in order to realize operational and energy-saving benefits across the enterprise. Wireless controls are enabling the roadmap for smart buildings and are the foundation for the Enterprise Internet of Things (E-IOT). The E-IoT is the next frontier for wireless networked building control and energy management.
The Road to E-IOT
Having wireless capability helps organizations drive their E-IoT initiatives, enabling them to manage all machine-to-machine (M2M) communications throughout their networked enterprise. As a result, wireless capability is playing an increasingly important role whether you are a controls systems company or lighting manufacturer that provides end-devices. The key to success is interoperability and working toward a common standard.
Making the Connection
Today the most prolific standard for lighting and building controls is the ZigBee standard. It’s certainly not the only standard, but to-date, ZigBee is the most pragmatic solution for building management with low bandwidth, low power, and a large ecosystem with the most interoperable connected devices. Using an open-standard for the wireless connection provides customers with leverage when choosing end products and negotiating price, compared to single-company proprietary systems. This is a huge benefit for end users, the open standard allows customers the ability to mix and match their preferred fixtures and devices, from various manufacturers, as well as choose the wireless control network that meets their needs. Technology based on open standards can offer support for a wide range of applications beyond lighting, such as thermostats, plug loads and fans, and the scalability to easily add future service and product upgrades. This helps to future-proof building automation and control systems so they can meet new and changing energy regulations.
Generally, lighting is the first layer under networked control in commercial buildings. However, once it is installed, the open standards-based system provides the platform to connect many other devices that can be managed and controlled in the enterprise. As a result, innovative LED driver manufacturers are working with LED fixture OEMs to integrate embedded wireless drivers into their product lines. Fixture manufacturers usually don’t build their own drivers so with this approach they can continue to focus on their core capabilities and integrate off-the-shelf, standard embedded wireless drivers to enable connectivity without additional wireless power packs and adapters. There are significant savings for users in up-front costs (up to 85 percent) due to vastly simplified design and installation, as well as reduced bill-of-materials costs. When matched with a networked wireless control solution, energy efficiency following installation can climb to 90 percent. Today, lighting manufacturers can leverage cutting-edge wireless drivers and make any LED fixture wireless-ready to increase adoption by significantly reducing costs and providing out-of-the-box connectivity.
Are we there yet?
The integration of software, low-cost sensors and an interoperable wireless network is driving the proliferation of the E-IOT in commercial buildings. The adoption of wireless technology and embedding wireless capability into devices matched with the use of open standards-based networked control systems represents a giant leap forward on the path to the E-IOT.
Danny Yu is CEO of Daintree Networks, Inc.
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