Long before many of us got our start in this industry, Building Management Systems (BMS or nowadays commonly referred to as BAS – Building Automation Systems) were in full swing. In fact, you could go back as far as the late 1960’s to find that some level of building control existed. The implementation may have been antiquated, but it got the job done given the available technology. Back then what really started it all were pneumatic sensors, actuators, and valves controlling building HVAC systems. It then migrated to also include PLC’s controlling other aspects of a building, which are still very much in play today. Some of you from our industry may think of PLC as Power Line Carrier ala X10. PLC in the commercial industrial and building automation world refers to Programmable Logic Controllers. Basically, it’s stacks of I/O’s looking for state changes to implement a series of sequence operations or events. More to come on this…
What is at the heart of this post is an attempt on my part to raise the awareness level of the almost untapped opportunity for AV control system integrators to migrate their footprint into the BMS/BAS world. But before I give you my take let me say this, by no means do I have any delusion or believe on any level that what we do as an industry will supplant the Johnson Controls and Siemens of the world. I have not lost my senses. Although my daughters might disagree! To put it in perspective the building control industry generates about the same revenue in a 5 day work week that we do in an entire year. It is exponentially larger than our industry’s aggregate revenue will ever approach hitting. Johnson Controls (JCI) and Siemens alone generated 142 billion in revenue last year. I just want to make that point clear. But having said that, given what we do as a whole, there’s no question we should be in on that revenue party. What we bring to the table absolutely has significant tangible value. It’s time for us to garner our fair (or unfair) share and here’s how…
Let me start by pointing out how this is positioned. It’s really pretty cut and dry, we do room control, they (they being Siemens or JCI) do building control. Yes, we can accomplish building or campus wide control and management but it is always at the room level. They implement building control but rarely if ever take into consideration what takes place in the tenant spaces at the room level. Most often tenant spaces are occupied post CoO (certificate of Ownership). So the architect and the GC are not always concerned about what happens beyond the infrastructure provided at time of build-out. In this illustration below, to the left is what a BAS takes care of, to the right is what we address, in the middle is where the opportunity lies.
So as you can see, it’s in the middle section where the AMX RMS Resource Management Suite comes into play. This powerful management technology is what aggregates all the room level usage metrics, consumption data and device level demand responses that have taken place in the facility. RMS then packages up the data into a language that the BMS/BAS system can understand and consume as necessary. Sounds easy, right? As we all know, nothing is ever easy. But it’s not about being easy, it’s about being worth it. Globally we’re talking about an industry that is pushing a half a trillion dollars. Just ponder this for a minute, if we captured just one-half of 1% of that we would increase our industry revenue by 2.5B dollars!! When you take a look at the sheer size and magnitude of this opportunity, those of you that are up for the challenge will be met with little to no competition. I call that “blue ocean”, go where no one else is and hunt it down! And even other players start showing up, the vastness of the size will leave plenty of room for co-existence.
Now let’s be candid, there’s no shortage of challenges here. What I believe is at the heart of succeeding is really about who can most effectively sell on the value proposition to the stakeholders that investing in room level integration as part of the overall BMS/BAS package is a must have. And given the multiple layers within this mix, especially in the new construction phase, garnering the attention of the right group is much easier said than done. Getting in early is a given, that said, in many cases, this is where good old fashioned persistence, perseverance, and tenacity will come into play. Over and above this, being prepared for the onslaught of building code and regulatory challenges will hit an all-time high. It will also be critical that you play efficiently and effectively in the BIM (Building Information Modeling) world. This means that the products your offer, the designs and submittals you turn in and your whole approach to how you management the project from start to finish will need to be dialed for BIM.
To further define this opportunity, here is a breakdown of how building integration is categorized in general:
- Standard Building: Building systems operate independently, energy efficiency and usage monitoring not in the design
- LEED Certified Building: Sequence of operations exist with building systems, but they are still separate and are not tied to an occupancy calendar and there is limited energy use monitoring.
- High Performance “Integrated” Building: Building systems are tied to an occupancy calendar, there is unified sequence of operations based upon actual occupancy, a comprehensive building management dashboard is in place for energy use monitoring, managing and reporting.
- High Performance “Smart” Building: Includes everything with an “integrated” building, plus management applications and business systems in place are seamlessly integrated with the BAS.
You’ll notice that even at the highest performance level of building integration no room or tenant level control, management or monitoring is part of the equation. We have never been more poised to bring a stronger value proposition to this picture. This is a golden opportunity to not only augment what BMS applications accomplish, but we can now position ourselves to be the integral “final” piece that streamlines technology implementations and building operations management to include the entire building.
If any of you out there have had success in this segment, please give us your feedback and experience so far. I would also very much welcome any one’s opinion on this post and whether or not you agree with me about the opportunity at hand. I look forward to hearing from you.