A large part of our focus at Control Solutions is building automation systems (BAS), from lighting and temperature controls to energy management, system integration and HVAC. We’ve discussed various aspects about BAS on the blog over the years, as well, covering topics including top metrics BAS should track, how to troubleshoot common BAS issues and the role of facilities managers and BAS. While BAS do wonders for time, money and energy savings for facilities, they become even more impactful when coupled with another system: direct digital control (DDC) technology.
What is DDC?
As defined by The Severn Group, direct digital control technology “is the control of a building’s conditions through a digital device, typically a computer.” DDC technology is also typically aligned with a facility’s BAS and primarily used in commercial HVAC control and energy management systems, fostering an incredibly optimal environment for high-functioning building performance and controls. Not only do DDC and BAS in tandem allow for precise controls of a facility, but they also work together to give facilities managers fair warning when a critical system is malfunctioning, according to Althoff Industries.
What is the difference between DDC and PLC?
Before there were digital controls, facilities operated on pneumatic controls. Some still do to this day—although it’s very rare. For the most part, outside of the gas pipeline industry, pneumatic controls are obsolete. DDC technology, while not perfect, is a much more appropriate system overall than pneumatic controls.
Let’s dive into some of the primary benefits of DDC, specifically paired with BAS, and how they work together to make facilities as optimized as possible.
Benefits of DDC & BAS
There are myriad benefits of having a DDC work with your BAS, especially with HVAC systems, to aid facilities managers in keeping building occupants comfortable and chief executives happy with the books.
Increased Occupant Comfort
Facility comfort can be greatly increased with DDC IoT technology. DDC, when compared to pneumonic systems, has a much faster response time of electrical signals to compressed air, creating much more accuracy for anyone with access to temperature controls. As explained by FacilitiesNet, because pneumatic systems use compressed air to operate actuators which move valves and dampers, they are overall less accurate.
In sum: more accurate, responsive and user-friendly temperature controls = increased comfort for employees, leading to a more productive work environment.
Lower Operating Costs & Faster Response Times
DDC technology allows for remote monitoring of a facility’s controls, which means facilities managers can change lighting, temperature, HVAC settings and more from anywhere. This also allows for facility managers to receive notifications of any downtime with a piece of equipment, so the problem can troubleshoot remotely before the tenant or building owner is even aware there is an issue. Whereas, with a pneumatic system, in the case of equipment failure, the facility manager would be unaware of the issue until they were present in the building, and would not be able to find the source of the problem without being physically present to inspect and repair it.
In those times when a facility manager is on-site to troubleshoot a piece of equipment, the process is still made much simpler with the help of DDC technology. There are several tasks beyond building systems repair and maintenance that a facility manager is tasked with daily, as we discussed previously. Building engineers have an extensive list of tasks required to keep the building running. When less time is required to be spent on addressing the BAS, they have more time to focus on continuous building operations and to conduct preventive maintenance on more complex building systems. This, in turn, allows the base building systems to run more efficiently.
Simplified Retro-Commissioning Process
We’ve spoken in-depth about the various aspects of retro-commissioning on the blog, and DDC and BAS integration can aid in simplifying that process. With the right type of DDC technology, according to Althoff, the retro-commissioning process “simply involves changing parameters in the software or updating the software package so that it can provide more detailed information.” And then, once the software changes have been made, observation of the system can yield vital data on its functionality within a relatively short period of time.
Interested in Integrating DDC with Your BAS? Control Solutions are the Experts!
Our team is comprised of system integration experts—in fact, it’s one of our most sought-after services! We know that when it comes to BAS, convenience and efficiency are key in order to save both time and money in the workplace—exactly what DDC integration can offer.
- Single-source building systems integration including HVAC, lighting, door access and surveillance systems
- Building software integration
- Remote control, monitoring and alarming for all systems from a single web-based interface
If you’re interested in moving from pneumonic to DDC technology or updating your current systems integration, contact us today to set up a consultation with one of our integration experts.
The Severn Group