#5QuestionsWith is an interview series with RE experts to help the industry learn, grow, and be inspired. Read on as FM and PropOps leaders talk to us about their highs and lows and what it means to be a change-maker in the smart buildings arena.

About Salvatore Cataldi

A specialist in designing distributed automation systems and solutions, Salvatore leads Belimo’s digital ecosystem initiatives. With his profound expertise in the building automation industry, he strives to enable interoperability between digital and building IoT ecosystems.

 

1. What are some of the changes that are happening in the building automation industry in the recent past?

The building automation industry is now demanding more intelligent and connected components, for open-protocol integration and digital parity. Industry stakeholders have realized how crucial this is to smart building success. The knock-on impact of this demand is evident in the industry of smart devices for building automation because these devices are like team players, capable of working with other building systems implementing more and more complex data-driven strategies.

The building automation industry is now demanding more intelligent and connected components, for open-protocol integration and digital parity.

We are only at the beginning of an era, in which smart devices are being integrated into digital ecosystems. This coincides with the move away from conventional, rigid approaches; towards more agile property operations, powered by distributed and cloud-based software solutions. Big Data is increasingly becoming central to decision making and is enabling seamless operational scalability. Also, in recent years, sustainability has come to the forefront, as a critical variable in the building automation equation.

 

2. Can you elaborate on this shift and the opportunities ahead?

Integration of smart devices, and the creation of digital ecosystems, increases software interactions. And these interactions contain massive opportunities for all stakeholders in the building automation and smart devices space. But this shift is a collective shift, towards more customer-focused offerings and value propositions. Because customers now have more awareness than ever, and they are in the market to enhance operational efficiencies, sustainability scores, and occupant experiences; as well as being agile enough to meet ever-evolving demands in the future. So, the industry-wide shift is a natural response to customer expectations, and business pressures.

More customers are looking for ways to leverage data in existing systems and maximize value, with relatively lower upfront investment. They are looking to easily scale from single building operations to portfolio operations, and achieve greater cumulative efficiencies, operational visibility, and optimization. This shift obviously spells opportunities for vendors across the value chain. And as expected, vendors are forming strategic partnerships as well, to create connected, data-driven building operations, which unlock cumulative value.

 

3. What does it mean for building systems to invest in integration and interoperability?

Legacy building operations are largely fragmented and siloed, unable to view the data produced by sensors and automation systems from an integrated perspective. Conversely, in a smart building, all its devices and systems are interconnected at different levels through interoperable and IoT-based integrations and cloud solutions, bridging the silos or even making them completely disappear. For instance, Facilio’s software platform integrates with Belimo’s IoT ecosystem, to create the epitome of such a connected model of property operations.

In a smart building, all its devices and systems are interconnected at different levels through interoperable and IoT-based integrations and cloud solutions.

The strengths of this collaboration can be explained with a simple example: Belimo’s IoT devices implement their strategies to maximize efficiency and effectiveness, at a specified place, say an HVAC installation. Here, a lot of information can go beyond the BAS. So, when the Belimo IoT device is taking care of something specific, for instance, the low delta T syndrome, another platform interacting with the digital twin of that same device can coordinate with different other devices within the same integrated system, and the operator/owner can use this data to improve the efficiency of the installation, commissioning, control, and services. So, in essence, Belimo IoT devices provide the fundamental information that Facilio analyzes, to increase operator awareness, allow for optimization, and help make truly informed choices.

 

4. What are the benefits of such a connected model of building operations?

In the connected model, IoT helps us in making the digital twin of a Belimo device accessible from everywhere, leveraging all the amount of information the device is dealing with since the day of its installation. to drive added value, move from reactive to proactive operations, introduce new sustainability measures, elevate occupant comfort, etc. I believe we still haven’t realized the full scope to which this can be leveraged.

What makes it alluring is that the gap between physical and hyper-digital built environments can be seamlessly bridged.

Like I said earlier, the connected model is heavily customer-centric. And this is evident in new applications such as remote asset performance management, condition-based and predictive maintenance, and app-based customization of occupant comfort, among others. What makes it alluring is that the gap between physical and hyper-digital built environments can be seamlessly bridged, and value-addition is almost instantly achievable, especially when led by solution providers working in tandem. This can be accurately depicted using a graphic that I often show to demonstrate the power of digital collaborations. In this case, the connected ecosystem is benefitting from the digital twins of both Facilio and Belimo, and the extracted data is being used to drive combined value.

 

5. How can software providers partner to accelerate digital transformation in the industry?

Today, all stakeholders understand what they stand to achieve, through the power of digital tools. It’s not just a matter of perception, however. The applications and effects are real; everyone can see them.
The digitization of property operations opens the door to not only energy savings and enhanced comfort, but every aspect of a buildings’ lifecycle. Every touchpoint in buildings has a digital representation and associated benefits.

The pandemic has accelerated this digital transformation, shifting the spotlight to the operational side of real estate. From the software standpoint, the pressing need for remote operations at a portfolio scale will see the uptake of cloud solutions. The existing BAS will not be overhauled but rather enhanced, to optimize all property operations effectively, and in real-time. And the industry is stepping up to meet these fast-changing demands, with operational excellence and sustainability as the core concerns.