Challenges to Be Aware of With Building Automation Systems

BAS manufacturers discuss potential issues of dealing with automation systems.

By Jeff Wardon, Jr., Assistant Editor

Even though building automation systems (BAS) can help smooth out processes, there are challenges that facilities managers should be aware of with these systems. In this manufacturer roundtable, Healthcare Facilities Today speaks with BAS manufacturers about the challenges of these automation systems. 

Are there any challenges that facilities managers should be aware of when dealing with building automation systems? 

“As technology rapidly becomes more and more interconnected to every part of building operations, facilities can become more and more vulnerable to an increase in cyber threats. A cyberattack in a BAS can lead to unplanned downtime of critical systems and can have an impact on a healthcare facility's processes. To combat this, facility managers should implement robust IT-level security across operational technology systems to protect sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access. 

In addition, for facility managers with multiple third-party technologies integrated into their building, it can be especially challenging to maintain and monitor properly. Moving to a single integrated BAS enables facility managers to centrally manage a portfolio of sites with real-time monitoring; easily track key performance indicators (KPIs); and reap the benefits of AI-driven capabilities that autonomously adjust maintenance, comfort and sustainability features in a building.” 

— Dave Rausch, business development manager, Phoenix Controls 

“There are many challenges that facility managers face, and those vary based on the level of automation within the facility. The first step is understanding the building systems and the vendors that you are working with. If you are working within a larger facility, you could have a handful of vendors that use different programs, systems, products, navigation structures, etc. -- all within the same building or campus. A facility manager needs to understand how to manage these disparate systems. They should create a plan for how each system is implemented, utilized and how staff interact with each system. 

Another large challenge that we see managers face is staff training and knowledge. How do you get employees up to speed on the programs they use? How do you keep them up to date on new technologies as they progress over time? Most vendors will help with this knowledge exchange. There is also an ongoing learning curve in this space as new technology is constantly being introduced. Communicating any changes and/or upgrades within a BAS to employees is critical to maximize daily efficiency.” 

— Robert Harland, global product manager, Johnson Controls 

“One of the biggest challenges we see from facility managers is being able to maintain their entire portfolio of facilities with limited people and financial resources. A healthcare facility has a diverse mix of environments in one facility or across multiple buildings with medical offices, operating rooms, pharmacies, labs, diagnostics and imaging, and more. 

The approach to maintaining an office space is very different than a pharmacy, classroom different than an operating room. A tailored approach based on actual outcomes instead of schedules, supplemented by predictive analytics and digital tools, helps facility managers allocate their limited resources to the areas with the greatest impact on patient, financial, energy and operational outcomes.” 

— Cody Hampshire, head of building automation and smart buildings, Siemens Smart Infrastructure USA 

Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market. 

October 13, 2023

Topic Area: Information Technology

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