If It’s So Smart, Why Can’t the Equipment Communicate?

  • Dwight Gray, PE, CCP – Engineering Economics, Inc.
  • L. Scott Henderson, PE, CCP, LEED BD+C – McKinstry
  • L. Noah Welshans, LEED Green Associate – McKinstry

Challenges involved in integration of “smart equipment” can interfere with the need to transmit and receive information, programming, and commands to operate a facility effectively. Issues are complicated: installation and security, usability by owners, and communications between different vendor equipment that must communicate with each other, as well as other vendors’ equipment. Systems and training are rarely fully implemented to guide owners and construction teams on the pitfalls early. At the same time, vendors frequently describe their products as capable of independent operation. The design engineer often specifies a sequence of operation that requires multiple systems from multiple vendors to transmit and receive commands and programming to operate in concert with each other. As the “Internet of Things” continues to evolve, these issues become more pronounced and important for the commissioning provider to coordinate and troubleshoot before the systems are installed in the field. This session examines the opportunity to engage the Cx process and become a thought leader/advisor to owners, A/E teams and contractors, and provides a special focus on:

• Communications protocol types and advantages/disadvantages
• How to get everyone on the same page (engineer, controls contractors, mechanical contractors, electrical contractors, and equipment vendors)
• Submittal reviews – What to look for, where to look for it, and when to ask for more information
• Advantages and disadvantages of independent or stand-alone systems vs. integrated systems
• Sources for this information will include ASHRAE guidelines and standards, ISA standards, and IEEE guidelines and standards.