Karl Walker, markeng development manager for Beckho discusses the need to take a fresh look at building technology when the me comes to replace outdated HVAC controllers

same routines and employing the same tried and tested methods – as the saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. But while this often proves to be sage advice, there are occasions where moving away from the comfort zone pays dividends for all involved. For decades the building controls industry was built upon solid, dependable HVAC controllers, limited in terms of functionality but a seriously smart investment given the potential to save energy through the continuous regulation and monitoring of heating, ventilation and air conditioning when linked to a BEMS.

W Demand more

Many working in the building controls sector are so used to requesting, specifying and installing the HVAC controls that they know and trust, they don’t see an urgent need to invest time and effort into researching other options – and why would they? If the controls work and undoubtedly reduce costs, there would seem to be very strong argument for sticking with the current status quo and avoid the potential for rocking the boat. The convincing counter-argument to this is that building technology has moved on and there is now the potential to do so much more. On top of traditional heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls, integrated room automation and media functions can offer control over lighting, air quality, security, blinds, audio, video, occupancy monitoring, power monitoring and much more, with one system controlling everything. Acting like a complete central nervous system for the building, a fully integrated building automation system feeds back information on a multitude of different elements and can make adjustments based around maximising comfort and efficiency.

uA powerful PCbased control technology is at the heart of the latest single plaorm systems

The latest advanced automation platforms support all communication standards, allowing for a universal, coordinated control system. This joined up approach allows the system to make use of different elements in order to optimise operations. For example, lighting can be directly linked to façade control (blinds etc.) in order to maximise the use of natural light whilst

hen you’re used to living and working in a certain way it’s all too easy to find yourself sticking religiously to the

minimising glare and maintaining ideal working conditions. This feeds directly into modern ‘circadian lighting’ strategies whereby lighting systems are designed to alter colour and intensity dependent on time of day and environmental conditions. The thinking is that this ties in with the natural circadian rhythm based around the body clock in our brain and impacts positively on wellbeing and productivity in the workspace.

Asset management is another growth area that benefits extensively from a properly integrated building management system. With IoT as the enabler, business assets can be monitored and tracked, ensuring they are being correctly utilised and maintained. In rarely-manned plant rooms monitoring systems can be set up to listen for unusual noises, often so subtle that they wouldn’t be picked up by human ear but potentially a sign that something is about to go catastrophically (and expensively) wrong. By alerting building operators or the facilities team that something isn’t quite right, there is clear potential to carry out preventative maintenance and reduce the risk of downtime.

Born to perform

The powerful PC-based control technology at the heart of the latest single platform systems paves the way for such a comprehensive range of modular components that the technology can be employed in a whole host of different markets and applications, not just office buildings and similar commercial properties. Real time communication and a plethora of hardware and software interfaces mean that these control solutions can help automate functions in the stage and show arena, from lighting and audio-visual to winches, hoists and moving platforms. Similarly, theme parks and other attractions built for entertainment can implement control components to assist with animatronics, moving water features and special effects, on top of the regular building automation functions.

Increasingly prevalent in both the entertainment sector and public spaces such as airports and shopping centres, digital signs used for advertising and displaying important information often need to be in constant use. Digital signage control powered by industrial PC delivers a robust and reliable system which can be expanded without fuss. Device monitoring can be added so that data relating to temperature, energy consumption and overall device status is recorded, with the option to review the figures either locally or off-site. In order to be successful in a range of different sectors, providing the functionality to service automation, audio, visual, digital signage and other needs, the perfect platform needs to offer open communication, allowing integration with building technology standards such as DALI, KNX, BACnet, M-Bus, EnOcean and more, alongside languages from the entertainment industry such as sACN, SMPTE Timecode, Art-Net etc. This multiple language approach means that users are not tied to manufacturer specific protocols, giving them the freedom to choose equipment that best suits their individual needs.


BUILDING CONTROLS Bucking the trend

uThe idea of a ‘green building’ based on sustainable, energy ecient construcon and building use can be realised with intelligent, integral building automaon

New age thinking

Businesses that are open to new technologies and modern ways of working are often some of the most successful over the long-term. HVAC control is still a key part of any building automation system but the latest single platform PC-based solutions offer so much more in terms of energy saving potential, functionality and flexibility. Change isn’t always easy, but in a competitive, fast moving global marketplace the ‘stick to what you know approach’ doesn’t guarantee continued success, especially when it comes to building technology.

C-based control technology from Beckhoff, which has already been used successfully for almost three decades in all areas of industrial automation, has become an integral component of intelligent building automation. The demands on the intelligence of buildings have increased constantly in recent years, such that the energy efficiency as well as a good ‘return on investment’ is the priority.


The idea of a ‘green building’ based on sustainable, energy efficient construction and building use can be realised with intelligent, integral building automation. Beckhoff offers a universal, scalable building automation control system covering PC- and Ethernet-based controllers and a modular I/O system for logging all data points in buildings.

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Integrated building automation solutions

The latest

advanced automaon plaorms support all communicaon standards, allowing for a universal, coordinated control system

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