Grainger Editorial Staff
Learn how to recognize the signs of aging control systems that are critical to your building’s overall operations.
On any given workday, facilities managers spend their time managing budgets, working with service providers, supervising multidisciplinary teams of employees and making sure their facilities meet environmental, safety and health standards. They also allocate physical space to specific business functions and put out the daily fires that come with operating commercial buildings.
This may sound like more than enough to fill a 40-hour workweek, but today’s facilities managers also have to keep tabs on the underlying systems that keep their facilities operational. According to a recent report by Grainger The State of Aging Buildings: Today’s Building Management Challenges, many of the 1,000 facility managers surveyed see aging control systems as an area where proactive steps can effectively ward off future problems.
As buildings age, the systems that run them will begin to show wear and tear. “Buildings don’t fall apart overnight. Deterioration is a slow process that takes its toll over time, which is good news for facilities managers,” Control Solutions, Inc points out. “It means you have time to assess and plan for upgrades before they become costly repairs that interrupt operations.”
A building control system or building management system (BMS) comprises one or more solutions that support the management, control and/or partial automation of mechanical and electrical systems (e.g., lighting, chillers, boilers, HVAC, security, etc.). With the advent of the IoT (Internet of Things), artificial intelligence (AI), and increasingly-connected facilities, more organizations are thinking beyond legacy building control systems and infusing more automation into these processes.
But even as technology continues to make its way into facilities nationwide, many legacy control systems still run the show: 72% of U.S. commercial buildings were built before 2000. When building control systems are functioning properly, no one notices them—the building temperatures are comfortable, the water is running and all of the lights are on. “But there comes a time when the building controls no longer perform optimally. And the complaints from unhappy building occupants begin mounting in your e-mail inbox,” FacilitiesNet points out. “You know the problem. The building needs a controls overhaul.”
Expected to keep buildings operating as intended and their businesses running smoothly, facilities managers often have to resort to contingency planning to deal with the safety, usability, operational and security issues that can occur within their four walls. In many cases, this contingency planning may be all they need. In the case of building control systems (which can impact multiple areas at once), however, it pays to take a more proactive approach.
A good first step is to know the signs of an aging building's control system. Here are some important warning signs to watch for:
Vital to keeping a facility operating efficiently, building control systems have come a long way in the last 10-15 years. The newer solutions incorporate intelligent technology like AI, IoT and Machine Learning (ML) that allows facilities managers to focus on core responsibilities versus having to worry about their buildings’ underlying systems. Knowing when it’s time to invest in upgrades can mean the difference between running an inefficient, expensive facility and operating an energy-conscious, comfortable and safe plant.
Use these four action steps to start upgrading or replacing your facility’s aging control systems today:
Download The State of Aging Buildings: Today's Building Management Challenges to learn how facility managers like you are planning for and prioritizing projects to keep their aging buildings operating safely and efficiently.
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.
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