The Dell Internet of Things (IoT) division is a platinum sponsor of this week’s IBcon, a leading conference for smart, connected high performance buildings. We are partnering with building automation provider KMC Controls as they build new solutions targeted at the five million unconnected buildings in the U.S. based on an IoT appliance that is open, secure and scalable.
Building automation is a key IoT opportunity. As Dell innovation leader Glenn Wintrich has said:
"…connecting all traditionally unconnected equipment, and analyzing and controlling business processes without human intervention – will lead to much better managed assets, which translates to happier occupants and improved finances.”
The waste around keeping lights on in an empty room, water dripping from an undetected leak, or team members pulling on sweaters in July when they enter their office is very real. The dollars saved and environmental benefits from reducing this waste are easily quantified.
We learn a lot from our industry customers, and from attending shows like IBcon. Earlier this year we attended the ASHRAE Winter Conference – a meeting of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers. We heard the saying, “every building is a snowflake” and that HVAC solutions need to adjust to meet the unique needs of specific commercial buildings. The industry pros said that behind the simple adjustment of a thermostat, there is a world of intricacies to achieve the comfort that people need and, in fact, “you can spend a lifetime learning about HVAC.”
The industry is certainly different from high tech. The show floor was filled with large, heavily mechanical devices…fans, pumps, valves, centrifugal compressors. Technology shifts are measured not in months, not in years, but in decades. But when these mechanical devices are connected to the internet, issues that Information Technology (IT) can solve become important. Analyzing the data collected from the devices and taking action based on these insights, is what creates benefits of smart buildings, so having the right data management and analytics tools is critical. And of course, making sure there is data encryption and network security ensures that data and people are safe. IT makes all of this possible.
So we see that IoT is fundamentally a convergence between operating technology, such as HVAC systems, and information technology. IoT solutions – especially in these early days – require integrating domain expertise from both worlds. This means that each customer solution is quite unique to handle the specific protocols, software and equipment to be connected.
Today, every IoT solution is a snowflake too. However, today’s projects with partners like KMC Controls will lead to the development of modular, end to end IoT solutions that blend attributes from PCs and industrial equipment. Starting with our new IoT gateways, Dell will help drive scale and simplicity to IoT solutions for building automation and beyond.
Come visit us at IBCon at the KMC Controls / Dell booth!