7 Tips For Selecting A Building Automation System

Finding the right BAS is a big challenge for any facility manager. Getting the job done right means thinking about people as well as technology, and about what happens after the system is installed. A road map of key considerations can help facility managers get the job done. Click here for a look at seven key points to keep in mind when selecting a BAS.

7 Replies

  • Ed, the article mentions a couple things -

    Ethernet for the system:

    This is a great idea. The problem is most manufacturers are still making field bus devices. But, ALL-IP systems are great. The most important thing if you are stuck with field bus is to ROUTE it when possible. This mitigates dependence upon middleware boxes and a single front end.

    Front Ends:

    You should be able to run multiple "front ends" if you want. If your equipment is overly dependent upon this, then you have the wrong "front end".

    It was stated that "The visual presentation of the software and hardware should be appealing and intuitive." 

    The visual presentation should be intuitive. Appealing is a mistake. 3d graphics are like art. Put the art on the wall. When you are paying your facility manager to manage, why should they be hung up with all the art on the screen? The graphic should within about one second tell the facility manager if there is a problem. Hunting around 3d and other appealing graphics is a waste of money.

    The programming language commentary is rather vague. Would that be programming the visualization in the front end or the programmable device? If its in the device most manufacturers have their own marketed setup. However, there is a standard for this called IEC 61131. It encompasses graphical programming, line code, ladder, etc... If your vendor is using 61131 then your programming is done however you really like it or mix/match. Sometimes graphical programming is just not powerful enough to get done what you need.

    What I didn't see entirely is security and methods. Security is pushing architecture more than anything else and you need a platform that is structured to keep up with the changes. Being overly dependent upon third party applications such as JAVA is not a good choice. Depending upon BACnet/IP for high level security is not the best choice.


  • In reply to Daryl Clasen:

    Thanks for your observations, Daryl. I'd be interested in what others have to say about the question of 3D graphics. Are there 2D graphics that are "appealing"?

  • In reply to Ed Sullivan:

    Ed, there are in fact 2d graphics that can look "visually appealing". They look outstanding when printing them compared to 3d graphics, in addition to taking a fraction of the time to print, but even those can be useless.

    What is most appealing is identifying whether or not things need an action in seconds, not visual appeal.

    Remember the old Star Trek sick bay? Recall that on the wall was a HMI showing the status of the patient. Without even seeing WHAT specifically everything was it was easy to tell within seconds if somebody needed attention (corrective action)  or if they were "on the way out" . A book entitled: The High Performance HMI Handbook notes that the guy dressed in red usually wasn't going to make it. The real point is what type of things allow you to see what needs attention in seconds, or within A second. Well, that Star Trek HMI got it correct. Note no 3d images.

    Let me know where the 3d graphics are in your car or in a plane. I think they are nowhere to be found, and especially for critical information display.

    Please explain to me why a building automation system needs 3d graphics more similar to items in an art gallery and less like pilot (or if you prefer fighter pilot) HMI's?

    I know the answer: "Visually appealing" makes the initial sale but ends up costing the purchaser in lost production and repair over time.

  • In reply to Daryl Clasen:

    The question of 2D and 3D graphics really comes down to the needs of the operators, and their experience. The facility operators that have been around for years likely don't need the "visually appealing" graphics, per say. Nice 2D graphics that give them the information that they want would typically suffice.

    However, there is a shift in the industry where more and more operators are of a newer generation, where "visually appealing" graphics are expected. We are also finding that some operator interfaces are doubling as public-facing interfaces as well. A 2D schematic of a rooftop unit doesn't do John Q. Public much good, but if you show them a 3D representation of the "box" that they've seen on the roof, they can relate.

    The argument for 3D graphics really comes down to the level of detail provided and the capabilities of the BAS. Many BAS still can't offer a 3D environment where the operator can zoom and pan in on a piece of equipment to get more or less point detail, diagnose system failures, or provide a visual remote diagnosis of the system. So, currently, we're stuck with providing a 3D representation of a system to provide a similar experience.

    Cost is always important when evaluating any purchase but more and more 3D representations of HVAC systems are becoming available. Once a library is established, development of those 3D system graphics can be just as affordable as a 2D representation.

    I do agree that the person driving the car doesn't need 3D graphics, but the mechanic could benefit (insert reference to Iron Man movie here). Building operators and managers don't just drive the building, they are also expected to maintain, diagnose, and prevent.

  • In reply to rzimmer34:

    There is no sound scientific reason to use 3d graphics. They are inefficient. Time is money.

    I think your explanation means you need more intelligent and experienced facility managers.

    Not that 2d graphics are THE answer either. That's not the point I'm making whatsoever.

    The point is making a HMI page within preferably ONE second ANYONE can see something is wrong.

    If everything is right, then move on.


    The BAS industry has much to learn from the Industrial world. 

  • In reply to sterry:

    Hi Everyone,

    1. Mainly Focused On installation of the new BAS.
    2. Don't give important for technology.
    3. Created equally to all the infrastrure because, For example frond end is completely connected, Only communication through the single way.
Related Content