According to the MarketsandMarkets research firm, the worldwide Building Automation Systems (BAS) marketplace is expected to grow from $75 billion USD in 2019 to $121.5 billion USD by 2024. Ensuring that these dollars are wisely invested will be critical for owners of smart buildings.
Building automation solutions are not commodity items. Generally, they can only be acquired from three or four large vendors in each region of the world. It’s an arena where only those entities that possess both the research and development expertise and the financial resources to maintain a global presence can play. Within this domain, users invest not only in the capabilities of the proposed system solution but also, more importantly, in the intellectual capital of those solution providers. In addition, once a BAS choice is made, the purchased solution will manage the user’s building infrastructure for at least the next 15 years.
Criteria for Making the Right BAS decision
When selecting a BAS partner, identify the key elements that will serve as the cornerstones from which a long-term relationship and commitment will be built:
1. Provider longevity
The longevity of the BAS systems integrator will impact the level of success the end user will experience when implementing their BAS solution. Although most end users are familiar with the solution manufacturer, they may not be as aware of the regional systems integrator. However, the integrator tends to be the end user’s lead interface over the long term. At the manufacturer level, regional management can change quite often (every 3 years on average), but the leadership at smaller regional integrators tends to remain in place from 15 to 20 years. Therefore, the individuals responsible for installing your original systems will very likely still be in place when you upgrade to your next system. Such longevity signifies an in-depth knowledge of the environment and of relevant end user applications. Therefore, end users who work with knowledgeable BAS systems integrators are subjected to less risk, fewer implementation delays, and lower project change order-related expenses.
A “platform” refers to the technology base within which the manufacturer has chosen to develop hardware and software systems. In this domain there are two factors to consider. First, determine whether the platform has been developed by a known entity. Partnering with the recognized names is less risky because the mainstream manufacturers have well-established reputations for offering quality building management.
A second factor to consider is whether the platform is open or closed. Open means you can easily integrate third-party technology components. With closed or proprietary systems, choices are often limited to the specific BAS vendor’s offerings. For example, with an open platform, you have a choice to install almost any brand of BACnet controllers. In a closed or proprietary platform, you do not. Also consider the time and effort the manufacturer commits to maintaining both systems updates and a secure environment. Surprisingly, some of the major players still operate on an outdated platform, like Windows 7, for example, that increase the risk of cybersecurity attacks. In the case of Windows 7, security updates have not been applied for several years.
Our firm, Wadsworth Solutions, a Schneider Electric EcoXpert building systems integration partner, recommends security updates on a monthly basis. We have an entire team dedicated to working strictly on the security of the platform.
3. Provider quality
There are several methods for separating the quality BAS providers and integrators from those that are simply average. One such method is gauging a firm’s willingness to work on projects that others hesitate to touch because of the complexity level. Avoid those that only feel comfortable working on standard “cookie cutter” installations. In addition, structure your Request for Proposal (RFP) so that vendors are required to submit a corporate resume that delineates the credentials of their engineers on staff, how many installations they’ve performed, and how many reference accounts are available to contact. Building owners should speak directly to those references. They should ask not only whether the work was completed on time, but also determine the quality of the post-installation work performed.
Also, be aware that not all installations go as intended. Every project will require some sort of contingency plan. The way the integrator responds to unanticipated changes in circumstances is important in determining the quality of the integrator. Do they throw their hands up and walk away? Or do they demonstrate the initiative to work through it? Such qualities separate the top integrators from the average.
When evaluating which BAS solutions partner is the best fit for your business, always consider both the manufacturer of the equipment and the systems integrator who acts as the manufacturer’s arms and legs within your geography.
To learn more about how digitized building automation solutions can enable modernization under an open platform, visit the Schneider Electric EcoStruxure for Buildings web site.
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Schneider Electric’s EcoXpert Partner Program unites the world’s leading technology providers, who exhibit best-in-class system integration competencies in facility optimization, reliable infrastructures and energy management, with its customers around the globe. Stronger together, this partnership cultivates collaboration, connects expertise, and delivers best-in-class services and solutions.
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