How to select the right building automation partner

How to select the right building automation partner
With customers becoming more and more interested in intelligent buildings, demand for building automation systems (BAS) continues to rise at a steady pace. Figures from the research firm MarketsandMarkets suggest that the global BAS market could expand to US$ 121.5 billion by 2024 from $75 billion in 2019.

However, despite such high demand, there aren't many companies in the world that can offer comprehensive BAS solutions. This is because building automation as an industry requires considerable investment in R&D and not many companies can afford the financial or other resources to get into such a sector.

“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,” says Jeff Groat, Executive VP at Wadsworth Solutions in a blog post. “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.”

Given the importance of such an investment, customers should know how to select a BAS solution partner. Groat pointed out that there are three major factors to consider to make sure that you choose the right BAS partner.
  1. Longevity

Customers need to make sure that the systems integrators (SI) they are looking to partner with have a significant number of years’ worth experience in the field. This is an important factor since most people are only familiar with the companies that provide the solutions but not the ones that install or integrate them.

“However, the integrator tends to be the end user’s lead interface over the long term,” Groat suggests. “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.”

Working with experienced SIs will considerably lower the risks, ensure that project change order-related expenses remain low and that there wouldn’t be much delay in the implementation.
  1. Platform

Knowing the platform that the manufacturer uses to develop its solutions is important to make sure its quality. Simply put, the platform has to be from a well-known developer, as they would have a track record of providing quality service.

“A second factor to consider is whether the platform is open or closed,” Groat said. “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.”
  1. Quality

As much ambiguous as the term “quality” sound in this context, there are quite a few ways to ensure that customers are able to determine who is a good BAS provider and who is not. Groat suggests one way is to look at a company’s readiness to work with complex projects that others may be hesitant to take up. Reviewing the company’s corporate resume with details of their engineers and previous projects is also useful.

“Also, be aware that not all installations go as intended,” Groat concluded. “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.”


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