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Trust your Building Automation System, But Verify

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Why is it essential to audit your building automation system? The purpose of having or upgrading your building automation system is to provide automation that operates in the most efficient manner for your building while minimizing labor costs, energy costs, and the special attention needed to operate controls manually.

Building automation systems are the internal brain for facilities and should respond without having to input values daily to maintain the most beneficial environment. Because of this, we become complacent with our systems because of their efficiency. As a result, I suggest you still implement a critical air pressures audit program for your system. There will be times you may receive a false reading from your program due to hardware failure.

While surveying a midwest hospital, we checked critical air pressures within their OR areas and identified that one OR was not positive to the surrounding corridor. The director of facilities radioed down to the engineering shop and had the engineer confirm the air relationship in this area. He determined the computer program was identifying the room as still negative which obviously wasn’t the case. Checking the daily logs showed that there had been no change within the air pressure relationship for months. It was noted that they had no idea how long this had been an issue since it was determined that the pitot valve had malfunctioned and giving the program false readings. As a result of the malfunction, the facility received a conditional finding for critical air pressures and had a follow-up survey within 45 days.

This example is why you do an audit program for your BMS within your facility. It doesn’t have to be intrusive, just done in a frequency that you feel is appropriate for your building. In the case above, think about the money that would have been saved if the facility had an audit program in place. They still would have had to fix the issue, but they would have not paid overtime, shut down the OR all day, or paid the Joint Commission to resurvey the area.

Take a look at your program and determine what you think would work for you. I suggest starting with daily/weekly checks of these critical areas and adjust your program accordingly to your findings. I would not go any further than a month for the audit checks unless you are VERY comfortable with your system, and I definitely emphasize “very”.

We will have more examples on April 8th at our Facility Compliance Think Tank spring webinar entitled, “Optimizing Your Building Automation Systems”. I will delve deeper into audit programs. Joining me in speaking are Director Engineering at Children’s Mercy-Kansas City, Adam Zorn and Director of Building Automation Sales at Johnson Controls, James Plotz. The webinar is part of our spring Building Strategies webinar series. Soleran is excited to announce it is an ASHE Preferred Education Provider for continuing education credits! Click here to register and learn more on obtaining your continuing education credits (CECs). Look forward to seeing you there and as always, be safe!

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