Bill Behn, President, Tosibox Inc.
In the old days, a busted air handler meant an urgent phone call from the facilities manager and a costly emergency deployment of a field technician from a contractor, integrator or controls distributor. For many in the building automation industry, it’s still the old days. But for those who are interested in solving building equipment problems with digital and less costly solutions, when a part in the building automation system fails or operates improperly, a fix can be as easy as logging into a computer.
The technologies that have changed the operation of countless other industries are also available to the building automation industry, people just don’t ask for it much. But all it takes is one faulty air handling unit and you’re on a rooftop in the midst of a heatwave with bill a few thousand dollars long realizing there’s a better way to manage this issue.
The security concerns around remote connectivity are valid. There have been high profile data breaches achieved through compromising integrated building automation systems. But as with other industries, there are ways to do remote connectivity right, without compromising anything on the security front. The products that are succeeding are using technologies already widespread and proven in other industry applications – such as VPNs and VLANs. When applied correctly, the advantages of these remote connectivity products are outstanding.
While remote connectivity may be completely new to your BAS, it doesn’t require a complete OT network overhaul to get remote access to your building systems. There are products that plug directly into individual units and solutions that attach at the full system level to create a secure portal into that one device or the entire system. And if you’re interested in cybersecurity, check out our top tips on the topic.
Digital transformation sounds like it would require a full system retrofit, but that is simply not the case. As soon as your next system fails or falters, it will become clear that the age of fearing remote connectivity is over.
The hardware products that are succeeding at remote connectivity for building automation systems are set up a lot like an old school Lock and Key system, but digital. One small piece of hardware sits at one endpoint serving as the Lock that protects all the information that is processed inside. Another small piece of hardware, the Key, plugs into the Lock system for access to the network devices that are plugged into the Lock. While the Lock and Key concept is a simple way to outline the process, these products are intelligent networking devices with crypto processing capabilities and built-in security features.
The TOSIBOX® Lock and Key product suite has some of the most promising and easiest to use products seen for these applications in a long time. They range from enterprise level hubs for VPN connections to USB-modeled keys for remote access to individual devices.
OTI Pro, a Master System Integrator in the BAS space, recently purchased the TOSIBOX® Virtual Central Lock, Locks and Keys for deployment in a new building construction in Mexico City. They realized an immediate decrease in the number of field tech deployments to the job site, lower costs because no IP addresses were needed, and excellent network availability and up-time.
Another building management company was able to outsource the maintenance of its building automation with the help of TOSIBOX® remote access solution. Learn more about these and other interesting case studies from our website and take action in securing your BAS.