Building automation and the strategic role of Integrators.

Zisis Mpatzakis
Building Automation Sector Manager, AS Hellas

The concept of Building Management System (BMS), has been featured in Greece for the first time during the 1980s. At that time there were few companies worldwide that could offer direct digital control systems. In our country the options were even fewer but quickly the biggest companies in the industry worldwide filled the gap.

Initially, the building automation systems focused on control of air-conditioning and less often in other systems of the building. Studies did not provide for the installation of such systems, and the few that did provide, were driven by EU legislation or by specific demands from the customer.

From the 1980s until today, many things have changed in Building Management Systems. Concepts such as energy saving, sustainability, building open protocols, "smart" systems, are at the forefront and are key factors for the selection of such a system.

Today, in Greece, there are 3 categories of companies that install, deploy and support Building Management Systems.

  • The first category includes parent companies of equipment manufacturers. They are few and appear in very few cases and in very specific projects.
  • The second category includes the specialized application solutions partners (integrators). They have selected one or more companies for the supply of the equipment and they are dealing exclusively with Automation or more specifically with Building Automation.
  • The third category includes companies which have as their primary object something more generic but their offer includes a building automation system.

Now days in Greece, almost every large building has a BMS study associated with it. Often times though, this study is not as detailed and thorough as it should be. The capabilities of a well-planned and documented Building Management System in full deployment are impressive. It will achieve up to 30% reduction in energy consumption, it will generate added value to the building and finally it will offer a better return on the investment (ROI).

It is clear, therefore, that the experience of the partner that takes over the integration, is a key factor in proper planning and operation of the system.
The integrator must have excellent knowledge of the chosen equipment and technologies. Must also have excellent knowledge of the functioning of the systems (electrical, and mechanical), that are controlled by the building automation system. in order to provide the customer with user-friendly and efficient solutions.

The day after the commissioning of a new system is always a challenge, as users are invited to undertake the operation and maintenance of complex systems. It is therefore crucial for the integrator to provide continuous support to the end-users and help them to optimally manage the building. It is also crucial that the selected equipment has a significant life span and any replacement is done with simple to understand and easy procedures. The technologies and protocols that are chosen, should support trouble free upgrades and expansions, without high costs and major overhauls, independent from the manufacturer of the equipment.

Based on the above, the choice of the partner that will install the Building Management System, is perhaps the most critical success factor of the project.

The right choice, allows for full exploitation of the great potential of these systems throughout the lifetime of a building!