Case study: Manufacturing plant BAS update

A manufacturing facility restructured its building automation system, which created several returns on the investment

By Jaco Cronje December 11, 2020

A vehicle manufacturing plant was running on outdated building automation and control systems, which dated back to the 1980s. When WSP came on board with the client, several engineering upgrade and construction projects were already underway, all running concurrently with little to no overarching facility data integration. These projects included anything from security upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning system replacements, from fire life safety replacement to electrical submetering.

As a result, numerous standalone networks were coming into existence in the facility, a range of different original equipment manufacturers direct digital controllers were being installed, private internet connections were being established and the control room had a number of screens varying in size and technology to display data to the facility engineer — each connected to a separate system.

Following the strategic imperatives framework, the WSP team started the engagement by identifying the stakeholders. Given the real estate portfolio of the client and realizing the potential for making a significant impact, workshops with the client did not solely focus on the manufacturing facility, but considered all property types — from offices to retail locations. A thread of sustainability and efficiency was common throughout all the engagements, however the client teams were disconnected. Building on the client’s corporate vision and identifying the key performance indicators for each team, the WSP team created a plan to move the client forward.

A roadmap was created that enabled the manufacturing facility to move toward a cybersecure and integrated environment without major impact to in-flight projects. Course-correct decisions had to be taken and memos were issued while specifications and enterprise network architecture designs were being completed. This roadmap also outlined the transition to smart buildings, integrated manufacturing and an overall holistic enterprise real estate portfolio.

The client’s existing approach to the standalone procurement of facility-related control systems at the various facilities furthermore required an urgent review. A matrix of best-practice and best-in-class decision criteria complete with weighted scoring was created to provide a tool for evaluating these procurement decisions.

A data integration guide was developed to ensure competitive pricing in an open market environment could be retained without sacrifice to data availability, cybersecurity or holistic real estate portfolio management.

The team developed an enterprise network architecture aligned with the client’s information technology team and engineering specifications detailing the building automation system platform for collecting, analyzing, exchanging and visualizing facility-related control system data.

WSP’s engagement took some time to materialize, driven by additional cost. There was an upfront overhead cost for designing an integration framework, but considering the return on investment, the project was approved. Interventions:

  • Unlocked authority having jurisdiction permitting.
  • Created standardizations on backbone industrial control system protocols.
  • Allowed for the signing of an enterprise agreements lowering operating expenditures and capitalizing on economies of scale.
  • Designed brand storytelling for their internal and external marketing campaigns.
  • Gave the client the ability to lead by example.
  • Eliminated many cybersecurity threat vectors.

Author Bio: Jaco Cronje is a technology solution architect at WSP USA.