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20 August 2019

Insight: How WBS is using emergency lighting solutions to create smart buildings


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Insight: How WBS is using emergency lighting solutions to create smart buildings

Emergency and exit lighting installation, testing, maintenance and replacement is an essential part of facility management and can be expensive. But what if this mandatory requirement could in fact plant the seed for your facility to become a smart building?

We chatted to the team at WBS to learn more about Smart Building Technology and what organisations across industries are doing to introduce it.

Q: Let’s start at the beginning. Where is emergency lighting required?

A: Emergency and exit lighting is a lighting fixture with a battery pack that turns on automatically when a building experiences a power failure.

Given that the Australian Building Code requirements vary from building to building, it is difficult to briefly define when emergency lighting is required. E4.2 of the Building Code of Australia details the emergency lighting requirements for various class buildings.

However, Emergency and exit lighting is crucial for building fire safety. For this reason, all buildings are required to be certified by a certified authority under section 109D of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act).

Q: What is Smart Building Technology?

A: A smart building is any structure that leverages automated processes to provide data and control critical operations that include heating, cooling, ventilation, security, lighting, communications, and many other systems.

Smart Building Technology further helps by providing building managers with real-time data on system performance, helping to reduce operational costs while optimising energy use and reducing risk from end-to-end.

Q: So what do the two – emergency lighting and Smart Building Technology – have to do with one another?

A: In the case of EMIoT, a wireless platform developed with UNSW and being rolled out by WBS Technology, LED exit signs are the backbone of a low-power meshed network that covers 99.9% of a building – even reaching underground carparks, pump systems and air conditioning.

Once installed, the emergency lights automatically connect to each other, creating a network, which can then be networked with other devices via various wireless technologies, including Bluetooth, which allows them to be controlled locally with a smartphone or via the internet from anywhere in the world.

Q: Which industries are benefiting from Smart Building Technology?

A: Smart Building Technology has already transformed many industry sectors, including retail, manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare. By having access to detailed insights on building systems, asset tracking, and human capital management, companies of all sizes and scope have been able to realise significant improvements in efficiency that not only improve the bottom line but also assure customer satisfaction.

Q: Will Smart Building Technology result in energy savings and reduce maintenance costs?

A: Buildings are often developed with fluorescent emergency and standard lights that lack consistency and style throughout the building. Replacing these with energy efficient LED lighting fixtures as well as installing a network monitoring and testing systems enables the building management to monitor and test lighting with ease, provides real-time event logging and the security of a 5 year service & warranty agreement.

Q: As an example, how can smart buildings improve health care delivery?

A: From helping to provide optimal patient care to reducing energy consumption, Smart Building Technology can play a significant part in overcoming some of the challenges in the current health care system.

For instance, patients can avoid intrusive maintenance and testing of emergency and exit lighting as this can be monitored and performed remotely without the need of stepping foot into the patient area.

Smart Building Technology can support the network of mechanical and lighting systems in the healthcare facility. It can adjust the internal conditions of the buildings such as switching off unused lights in empty rooms and increasing or decreasing the temperatures based on the occupancy of rooms. Other internal conditions the Internet of Things (IoT) devices can include pressure, humidity, and air quality. With the use of devices such as wristbands or ID badges connected to the network, the hospital’s management can track any administrative barriers that might slow efficiency and hinder performance. Similarly if worn by patients or placed on equipment, location and use data can be used by personnel to track location of patients, equipment and help optimise patient care.

Energy inefficiency and waste, and poor distribution of resources are some of the issues confronting this industry. However, with the implementation of IoT technology, many of, these issues can be overcome.

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