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Demystifying the Workflows for Creating a Smart Building

In a previous blog post, we covered BMS and Micro BMS as two approaches often taken to create solutions for smart buildings. Although each approach has their own unique set of tools and functionality, they have a common software platform. In this blog we’ll take a deeper dive into the workflows and technologies that enable software to do its magic. 

Workflows: a simplified view

FIN Framework as a common software platform provides an environment to create smart building, equipment and IoT  solutions. The workflows utilized have the following steps in common:

  • Step 1 - Represent the real world virtually by adding a device and its information to the software. 
  • Step 2 - Build out your virtual representation of the building/equipment by adding all of the devices and their relationships (physical location and systems they belong to).
  • Step 3 - Program the control sequences to define the interaction between devices and systems.
  • Step 4 - Create graphical user experiences to navigate and interact with your smart building and equipment.
  • Step 5 - Time to use your smart building and equipment! Leverage our applications to operate, manage, and analyze their performance!
  • Step 6 - Connect your buildings, sites, equipment to the cloud to manage as an enterprise.

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Depending on the size of your building and the complexity of the solution, the FIN Framework has multiple application suite options available (FIN Supervisory & Control, FIN MicroBMS, FIN ECO).

Now, let’s look at the workflows from the perspective of the different solutions providers.

Application engineers 

BMS projects are typically larger and more complex with a high number of integrations and devices. The user experience is highly customized and unique, and is created by skilled application engineers. 

The first step in creating a solution is to digitally represent the real world in a normalized way, meaning the devices and their information are simplified in a database. Part of this process is to integrate across multiple protocols to get the information into a common representation. FIN provides efficient workflows to quickly add points and tags by dragging and dropping them into the database.  

Custom control routines are easily created by an application engineer using a library of control blocks that are linked to form a sequence of operation. FIN provides the ability for control routines to be relativized and reused across multiple controllers. This means that blocks do not need to be duplicated and relinked for each additional piece of equipment. 

Next, an application engineer creates the user experience consisting of navigation, dashboards, equipment graphics, floorplans, and summaries. In FIN, this workflow is optimized using a wizard to prompt and collect information about a graphic and then automatically generate the content, virtual points, and links to dynamic elements. This greatly reduces time and effort while also minimizing errors when creating custom graphics. 

In addition to the user experience, FIN Supervisory & Control provides a suite of management applications: schedules, alarming, O&M Manuals, historian, notes, overrides, and weather. These provide the tools for operating and maintaining a sophisticated smart building. 

Now with the project complete, multiple sites and/or buildings can be easily connected to the cloud for remote access and global user management. The application engineer now has the capability to service an entire enterprise using a browser on any mobile device. This includes the complete user experience, killer applications, and engineering tools. 




FIN’s MicroBMS was built with the technician in mind to help address the need for automating smaller and less complex (and often overlooked) buildings. Much of the solution is autogenerated through the use Haystack tagging and templates. 

FIN technology leverages wizards to offer a deskilled user experience to collect information about the devices, protocols, relationships, and application information. Behind the scenes, this information is combined with templates that contain device data, user experience, control routines, O&M Manuals, and summaries. 

Once the technician completes the wizard, the MicroBMS/FIN ECO appliance integrates the device information with the templates to provide a complete solution. Additional applications, such as dashboards, work orders, and maintenance are also part of the operating and management suite. 

Now the site or equipment can be registered with the cloud, providing a holistic view of multiple smart buildings or smart equipment. 


OEM developer 

To create FIN MicroBMS and FIN ECO appliances, the OEM developer leverages the FIN technology and application suite to create their unique solution. Using workflows similar to an application engineer, OEMs develop the basic template for their devices. This provides the integration, data modeling, control routines, and visualization content. They then leverage FIN’s APIs to create value add applications for their specific customer needs. 

These templates and applications are then combined through the development of the step by step wizard the technician uses to deploy projects. Finally, the project is easily connected to J2 Innovations Edge2Cloud using a simple QR code or hyperlink. This provides the OEM developer with a normalized and aggregated data set that will then be leveraged by their enterprise applications by utilizing a cloud to cloud integration. 


Learn more about FIN Framework and its application suites here. For managing smart equipment, check out FIN ECO here.

B. Scott Muench

Scott joined J2 Innovations as a partner in 2011, and is now Vice President of Customer Experience. He has a wide range of responsibilities including evangelism, business development, training, and operational excellence. Scott is well known as an industry expert in smarthomes and smart buildings. He is a past president of ASHRAE, and is currently a board member for Project Haystack. Scott attended Clarkson University for Mechanical Engineering and graduated with a BS/Business in Organizational Innovation.

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Topics from this blog: End User FIN Edge2Cloud FIN microBMS Smart Buildings FIN ECO FIN Framework FIN Supervisory and Control

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