Those contracted to install a BMS, a building management system, face several challenges. Chief among these are cost and perception, two sides of the same coin. A BMS is increasingly considered a standard product by end users, with all that implies about what they expect to pay
In part, this is because building management system technology has advanced over the last few decades but the purchasing cycle has not changed. A BMS is still often procured by a mechanical contractor who is brought in by a general contractor who is, in turn, selected by the end user. So, the building management system subcontractor comes in at the second or third tier.
While end users directly benefit from the increased energy and other savings possible with a more capable BMS, the harsh reality is that many of them see one building management system as being essentially the same as another. That means everything comes down to initial installed cost, and the lower that is the better.
Fortunately, there is a proven method to cut the cost of a BMS installation. It involves working smarter and leveraging hard-won knowledge in a way that lowers costs.
This can be done through the use of Estimate360, Design360 and Studio360, three important estimating, engineering and project tools available to Schneider Electric Partners. The first helps with pricing. The second aids in the creation of a BMS solution. The third is an automated file management tool for project information.
Feedback from those who have used these tools is that they lead to better collaboration in estimation, design and execution. One benefit is that they reduce design time. All users get access to a library of items that are standardized and searchable, with revision control included. The result is that, over time, installation costs drop. Reports from adoptees indicate the overall engineering and labor improvement run from 8% to as much as 14%.
Mastering the 360 experience is a four step process:
- Awareness. Begin by attending a webinar to learn about Studio360 and Estimate360. These run three hours each and are available monthly. Register at Buildings Business Training. During this phase you should test drive a virtual demo.
- Identification. Pick a champion to own the 360 solution and implement a pilot. This should include buying a license with one employee per administration, sales and engineering roles to minimize disruption. Attend formal training, such as the five day instructor led course on Design360 that is available quarterly.
- Preparation. Communicate results of the pilot to the extended team and prepare them for full implementation. At this time, fine tune standards developed during the pilot and create a plan to phase in the use of the various 360 elements. Put into place performance measures so that improvements can be tracked and quantified.
- Adoption. Create a sharing culture, one in which standard methodology is followed and components from past jobs are reused in current ones. This means collaboration has to become second nature and that a library of reusable content should be created.
The development of reusable components is aided by MFLs, or multi-file libraries. These are containers for any file type. These can be Design360 or AutoCAD drawings, sequences, graphics, applications programs, start-up or commissioning documents, and estimates. Importantly, these are searchable across a business unit or company by criteria, equipment, customer or capability.
The key to cutting costs and meeting end user expectations is boosting efficiency. Being able to reuse part of a solution from one job on another is way to standardize, simplify and streamline the most valuable asset any BMS implementer has: knowledge.