In the custom install space, we are not only facing a broad variety of technologies, but we are also confronted with technologies which are suitable for the so-called “field level” and “management level.” But what is the difference, and can either technology satisfy individual needs?
“Yes, you can cut your steak with a spoon, but it would not be really handy.”
The same answer could be given to the question of whether management level technologies could satisfy the needs of a smart home, or if field level technologies could allow a facility manager to have full control over his building.
In order to understand the difference, let’s have a quick look at the main differences between a management level technology and the field level technology.
A management level technology is commonly referred as a Building Management System (BMS). Its main purposes are safety, improved comfort and efficient resource consumption.
To visualise it, picture a facility manager, who sits in his control room using a BMS. Main activities therefore are dispatching and administration as well as working with databases and statistical functions. The cooperation between staff (operators, dispatchers etc.) and system is performed, which is implemented via computers and SCADA-systems.
Whilst the BMS can be described as the nerve centre of the building, the Field Level is where the “action” happens. Here you can find the sensors and actuators. Field level devices can be found in smart homes, which do not require a big control centre.
The best example for a common field technology is KNX, as KNX is an open technology and provides a wide range of devices for individual needs and works perfectly with any other technology, especially with other management level technologies.
Although management level devices as well as field level devices offer the possibility to cover some of the applications of one another, their strength is still on their own level. Therefore, especially for larger buildings, it is imperative to use a BMS with a lower field-level technology.
The best application, which proves that both technologies are more than just complementing each other is “visualisation.” Thanks to visualisation on the management level, the facility manager can see right away what the current status, or problem, is and act accordingly.
For example, in the case of a fire, the emergency lighting can be switched on, the alarm goes on and all doors are unlocked. This scenario can also be automated, so if on the field level a smoke detector detects smoke, all other follow-up actions can be activated by the BMS.
Of course, there are more scenarios in which BMS and KNX work together. We would like to invite you to experience these first-hand in the KNX Webinar recording about “Visualisation and Management Functions for KNX”.