Honeywell’s new offering makes buildings smarter

Honeywell has released new smart building technology that uses visualisation and simple, intuitive interfaces to improve operations and business outcomes. Matt McDonald reports.

At first sight, the Command Wall is impressive. Something like Tom Cruise’s control room setup in Minority Report, but toned down and located in the real world.

A key part of the Honeywell Command and Control Suite, the Command Wall is a 60-plus inch touch screen with interactive maps that can zoom across a whole building or multiple buildings in a large site or even around a country.

It looks impressive, but what is its purpose?

“To gather all of a facility’s important building management data – video feeds, access control, fire alarms, and so on – in one place,” Graham Graeme Laycock, User Experience Studio Manager for Honeywell told PACE.

“This is really quite a change in the way that people are able to see what’s going on across their buildings. It’s really a new way of thinking about smart buildings.”

And it not only provides extra visibility but allows people from higher up in the organisation to see all of their services in one place.

Laycock explained that, whereas businesses have previously fallen into the trap of having all of their systems siloed into different departments, the suite provides them with situational awareness across the whole building.

It allows for teams of people to solve incidents together and to work in a collaborative way.

How does it work?

There are three key components that make up the Command and Control Suite. The first is the above-mentioned Command Wall.

The second is Incident Workflow, an electronic incident management solution which is built into the Command and Control Suite. It guides users step by step through scripted responses to security incidents and other emergencies, helping further reduce risk and improving accuracy in mitigating issues.

And the third key features of the suite are the Enterprise Dashboards which extend real-time visualisation by presenting detailed energy data and actionable guidance to help control consumption and boost efficiency.

Overall, the suite is intended to turn complex facility data into recommendations and easy-to-implement changes that help boost business outcomes – lowering costs, minimising risk and reducing downtime.

Asked about what quantifiable benefits the suite can offer, Paul Miekle, Marketing Manager for Honeywell told PACE that it needs to be worked on a case by case basis.

“For some deployments it’s about cost savings, for some deployments it’s about driving increased rent from your tenants. Other examples are purely around risk management,” he explained.

For example, the fast detection and assessment of fire at hospitals can avoid patient evacuations and save lives.

Or the avoidance of something similar at an airport can result in significant cost savings. It can mean that airline schedules are maintained, retailers are not forced to stop operations and personal and business plans are not affected.

In such cases, Miekle explained, the presence of the Command and Control Suite becomes a marketing tool for property managers. It allows them to show potential tenants “what a great job they’re doing managing their building and their space.”

According to Miekle, in ROI terms the suite is generally suited to larger buildings or complexes. But in cases where the buying decision is more around mitigating risk rather than efficiency, it can be suitable for smaller spaces.

For example, it could be suitable for a diamond merchant, a small process control business manufacturing very important pieces of equipment, or a pharmaceutical site making very high end products with a high level of quality control.

“Not the traditional building management jobs, but those projects that have added risk” or a specific need to demonstrate extra security.

Training

Available globally, the suite was primarily developed at Honeywell’s Sydney office.

The company pioneered the use of large scale format screens in its Experion Orion Console which is used for plant control in the industrial sector. From there, said Miekle, the idea to use the large screen format in the smart building space developed.

He added that the Honeywell user experience is about “putting people at the centre”. Therefore, the suite is easy to use.

“It’s very visual, very interactive…The type of experience that a lot of consumers might have come to expect from their smartphones and tablets,” said Laycock.

“Training time is dramatically reduced so [operators] can be using it almost as quickly as they can start using a smartphone and understanding their way around the building and really seeing what they need to attend to straight away.”

Such simplicity suits emergency situations well. It means that first respondents (police, fire fighters, etc.) can call up contacts and see what’s happening straight away. They don’t need to be experts or have prior experience to use the system.

Just like our Tom in Minority Report.