By Shajan George
We have stepped into an era where our very homes and offices are part of a greater digital infrastructure capable of being singular automated entities. These smart buildings represent a convenient, useful and smarter amalgamation of emerging technologies like 5G, AI, Machine learning and Analytics. The one indispensable factor that holds the digital synergy together is the foundation of a robust network infrastructure, dynamically designed to keep up with the technology trends.
The basic requirement for any smart building is a smooth channel of communication between all the different digital components. This is where networking comes into play. Appropriate networking requires a uniform cabling system based on structured cabling for local data networks (LAN) as well as a common language based on the Internet Protocol (Ethernet/IP).
Pulling Apart LAN cabling
Structured cabling has been growing adjacently with IT and Data Communications. Four-pair twisted copper cables form the basic structure of local data networks (LAN) and helps you in getting the most out of the network. With proper provisioning and suitable cabling structure the LAN could turn out to be pivotal in Building Automation.
Power over Ethernet (POE)
The power source is as important as data connection in an all-IP connected device framework. Organizations opt for POE to provide inference-free data and power at the same time. It plays a crucial role in powering the sensors and devices in an automated building, saving the need for parallel cabling, which is both time and cost effective.
POE targets to create superior user experiences in smart buildings like powering Digital signage and virtual reality screens. It can power the LED lighting of an entire hall and is cable of aiding multi-media programs for exclusive captivating experience.
Over time POE had laid the foundation for the latest 4PPoE which is capable of providing over 90W of power. The strategy going forward is to mitigate the effects of bundle heating, spark erosion and contact resistance to ensure long term 4PPoE capabilities.
Digital Ceiling Concepts
It is a smart building solution that connects all building services in a single, converged IP network. In digital cabling, tertiary/horizontal LAN cabling is extended to the ceilings of the floors as per the standards specified by ISO/IEC11801-6 and EN50173-6. This backs the installation of a service consolidation point. For example, the increased adoption of networked LED systems, the new smart lighting solution will serve as the assemblage for all building networks. The lighting network is the quickest way of creating a Digital Ceiling, since the lights are ubiquitous and spaced within eight feet of each other, making it the only feasible system to act as a central connection point.
The Digital Celling infrastructure comes with its own set of advantages. The comprehensive honeycomb-shaped ceiling installations allows for a flexible consolidation point or a service outlet and saves installations at a later date all the while providing users with more flexibility than with traditional office cabling. Service outlets enable the addition or removal of Switches, WLAN access points, LED lighting, sensors on a plug-and-play basis. Furthermore, by combining IP and PoE, only one cable is required for data and power supply. The powering of the LED lighting using PoE massively reduces energy consumption in comparison to conventional power supply.
The convergence of building- automation, POE and IOT will bring about transformational changes in building technology in terms of reducing operating expenses, simplifying construction, driving collaboration with increased productivity and improved workspace. The trick is to foresee the need to install a complete network program for future-ready smart-buildings incorporating cabling for data networks, digital ceiling, Power over Ethernet, Single Pair Ethernet and Internet of Things. Thus, allowing a consolidated IP infrastructure that simplifies planning, installation, maintenance and operation of automated digitalized buildings.
(The author is the Technical Director at R&M)