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Tue 11 Mar 2008 04:00 AM

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Remotely reliant

Dr Rolf Sigg, senior vice president of Head Managed Security Services, Siemens, explains some of the benefits behind remotely operated buildings.

Dr Rolf Sigg, senior vice president of Head Managed Security Services, Siemens, explains some of the benefits behind remotely operated buildings.

Many building and remote technology site operators are faced with increasing costs from operating and maintaining systems for room climate and safety, as well as from supplies for energy and water.

MARCs work on a 24/7 basis to address the service levels.

Modular and customised service packages for maintaining systems, preventing potential hazards, managing alarms and monitoring energy consumption, optimise the availability and performance of systems based on remote service technologies.

In the world of device and system users, the service department of the supplier was called if a defect occurred on the device or system used. The service performed, consisted of shipping a replacement part or sending out a service technician with a repair order.

Over time, preventive maintenance, as well as modernisation became linked with the goal of improving the availability or usability of the system.

Service criteria were defined in terms of available machine time, for example, easy monitoring tasks could be done remotely and prescribed reactions to simple pre-defined anomalies (alarms) could be triggered through remote control centers.

While such services to maintain the functionality and to improve the availability of a system are state of the art, a new trend is developing.

This trend in building technologies does not only ensure availability at the moment, but also optimise the performance of a building management, fire detection or security system over the entire life cycle of the system, both from a technical and from a financial perspective.

This includes elements such as usage-dependent intervals of preventive maintenance, optimisation of energy consumption, remote diagnosis, remote service, remote operation and software adaptations performed by the supplier who assumes responsibility for the management and acts on behalf of the customer.

In addition, these concepts can be applied to remote, unmanned technology sites such as mobile telecom base stations, gas or oil pipeline sub-stations, etc.

Furthermore, extensive optimisation services in the area of needs analysis, operational support, helpdesk, complete monitoring and documentation of system parameters (for example, compliance with the regulatory bodies), targeted out-tasking of individual operating tasks or comprehensive outsourcing of non-core processes of the customer, form part of the productivity services.

Ensuring optimally designed building management processes and systems, their highest availability and their seamless functioning in conjunction with other processes of the customer, are ideally suited for out-tasking and outsourcing.

Super service

Monitoring and Alarm Receiving Centers (MARCs) work on a 24/7 basis to address the service levels of repairs, availability and service optimisation.

The MARCs first function is a technical contact point for automatically triggered interventions such as technical alarms, fire alarms, security alarms and also for periodical system checks or periodical software adaptations.

Computer-controlled applications from a central remote server with hot stand-by and if necessary human intervention, ensure the execution of the required measures.

At the same time, the MARCs are staffed around the clock in order to serve as an information point or as a dispatching center to ensure the response by rescue forces (police, fire brigade, ambulance, private guard company) or by a technical specialist on site, on the phone or to manually support a remote maintenance intervention.

Professional improvement

If security is not a company's core business, everything should be done to reduce associated costs.
This is achieved by reducing security staff or by using budget suppliers and guards who ignore the complex facets and intricacies of an appropriate security solution.

But often, the cost-reduction-approach is counterproductive and does neither serve the companies nor their customers' interests.

Most security incidents happen after business hours. Despite the rising sophistication of technologies and networks, vulnerability can increase and companies can have difficulties finding qualified and affordable security staff and experts to fill three shifts around the clock, seven days a week.

Alarm management provides alarm handling/verification and the initiation of the prop­er response at the right time, in the right place and by the right people.

Appropriate actions are pre-defined with the individual customer, resulting in a unique action and intervention plan for alarms generated by:

• fixed assets (e.g. installations for security, fire, technical installations);

• mobile assets (e.g. monitoring of cars, containers, construction machines);

• people (e.g. guards, reports from inspection rounds, anti-attack boxes, isolated worker protection systems or other individuals).

In any case, the MARC acknowledges and verifies the alarm via human or electronic audio/video means, before alerting the necessary intervention forces (e.g. police, fire brigades, service technicians or security personnel) according to the customer's individual action plan.

Operational services focus on business-related processes that enable customers to outsource security tasks and functions. On behalf of the customer, the dispatchers accomplish operational tasks such as:

• remote operations (alarm confirmation audio/video, opening/closing of doors, cutting off points of access, switching off water supplies, back-up of all events on site etc);

• care and support (call center activities such as emergency calls);

• dispatching (the right personnel, security or maintenance are guided directly to the relevant area at the right time).

According to the specific service level agreement with each customer, the operators at the MARC remotely execute the security operations for the customer. All actions are documented and reported back to the customer.

Energetic cost savings

Energy management and the power supply are becoming critical economic aspects. A power failure could bring about negative consequences for both building or system owners and users.

With the remote control applied to building automation, energy management can be optimised and appropriate savings measures can be assessed in a realistic way.

The service module Energy Monitoring and Controlling (EMC) analyses consumption data and the emission of CO2 and makes the data available to the users at any time.

Improvements can be achieved by optimising nominal values, operating times, and the use of the residual heat in the building.

High cost savings are possible by reducing the airflow of air conditioning and ventilation systems. This includes the replacement of outdated airflow controls and the re-dimensioning of fans.

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