What do I mean ? - I mean that they sell commodities, just as an electricity company sells kWh or a Gas company sells gas and Grundfos or ABB sell pumps, and Weissmann, Hoval, Carrier and Hitachi sell boilers and chillers.
So what do we mean commodity - a commodity is by nature interchangeable and obviously (and problematically) many control systems are not.
This is strange, they are completely interchangeable when you buy them (lets face it, they can all read inputs, drive outputs, do a bit of very slow real time control and interact with a network via some network management software) and in this sense they are commodities.
BUT, as soon as you want to modify, change, upgrade or replace some part of a BMS, you suddenly face the nightmare of proprietary software configuration and incompatibilities.
And that's dumb !
Another way in which Building management system companies are completely ignorant of their clients, is that to them one I/O is the same price and value as another. So every sensor is in range or serviceable, reachable or not. But it really doesnt matter to them that one controls a huge chiller plant, while the other is watching the state of a toilet fan.
So what should you do about it ? - refuse to be a number
Recognising that a building management company (or service provider) is motivated by quantity (of hardware, sensors, network topologies etc) and complexity (the less accessible your system is, the more you are tied into a supplier and over a barrel), you should pull in the other direction, simplify and reduce the scale.
From an energy managers perspective there is a really easy way to do this,..
So which handful of pieces of plant if unserviceable would make your life an utter nightmare ?
Let me have a go (lets assume an HVAC and comfort focus here).
The delivered condition of air is wrong - sensor failure will do that The main boiler targeting mechanism is compensated verses outside air and the outside sensors are shot. The compressor bypass actuator is stuck open - no chilling and the flow header is reading low (so you don't know about it!
|grundfos (Photo credit: Johnson Cameraface)|
Lo and behold maybe fifteen sensors out of (in bigger buildings) many thousands, and your life is not worth living. And very easily you could come up with ten scenarios of abject misery. The key thing is that they time and again involve the same core-functionality of the air treatment plant ! So you do care about 50 sensors or actuators and the building management system companies are interested in selling you another 10 thousand or documenting how each one works, or upgrading the XYZ functionality.
What we try to do is focus on the pain points - and in most buildings there are less than hundred (even very big buildings) - get those right and the rest is detail, Let them fail and you haemorrhage time, effort and money. Your controls sytem provider, does not know this about you. Let him know - channel his efforts focus his mind on what matters to you and your building
- You may have a client ID - but YOU are not a number
And knowing that allows you to really show Building Energy Intelligence ! - kWIQly