4  FM quick reads on Building automation system

1. Building Automation Systems: Three Reasons to Replace Rather Than Upgrade

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from James Piper, contributing editor: As facility managers consider whether to replace an existing building automation system or to upgrade it, three factors may tip the balance toward replacement.

1. One of the most significant benefits of replacing a system is the ability to take advantage of new system technologies. During the past two decades, systems have vastly expanded in both capacity and capability. Interoperability has allowed standalone systems to be merged into a single, comprehensive system. Wireless technology has helped to reduce installation costs while increasing system flexibility. Advances in computer technology have slashed equipment costs while vastly improving system performance. Software improvements have made the systems easier to use.

2. Replacing a BAS also staves off obsolescence. All system designs have a finite service life, typically around ten years. If a seven-year-old system is expanded or upgraded, it may slightly extend its service life as long as the manufacturer continues to support it. In contrast, a new system would reset the clock on both service life and manufacturer support.

3. System replacement also offers facility executives the opportunity to more closely match system features and capabilities with facility needs. Expanding or upgrading an existing system may bring system features and facility needs into closer agreement, but chances are that alignment will never be as close as could be achieved with a complete replacement.

It can't be denied that new generation systems are powerful. The graphics can present an impressive picture of what is going on within different areas of the facility. But those capabilities are useful only if they meet some specific existing need of the facility. Investing in system capabilities that are not needed is simply a waste of money.

Four Steps Can Help Determine Whether to Upgrade or Replace Building Automation System

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from James Piper, contributing editor: Use these four steps when deciding whether to upgrade or replace a building automation system.

After a facility manager has examined how well the current building automation system is meeting the needs of the facility, as well as what new options are available in the latest generation of building automation systems, it is time to evaluate whether to upgrade or replace the existing system. Here are four steps to help make that decision.

1. For the existing and the possible replacement systems, develop a list of all of the positive and negative aspects of each system. In addition to the features and limitations of the systems, consider other factors such as how easy the system is to operate, the level of training required for both operators and mechanics to use the system, how well the system is supported by the manufacturer, and how difficult it is to obtain service and spare parts.

2. Another important factor to consider is if there is a mechanism for upgrading the current system so that it is compatible with the latest generation system from that manufacturer. If an upgrade path is available, chances are that upgrading will be able to provide the level of functionality of a system replacement at a much lower cost.

3. All systems have a limit on their maximum size. As systems approach this size limit, they can experience significant decreases in performance. If the current system is approaching this limit, or if any planned expansion results in the system approaching this limit, that's an argument for system replacement. Maxing out a system severely limits future changes and growth as well as performance.

4. Finally, it's useful to consider the relationship with the vendor that supports the existing system. Vendor issues weigh heavily in the decision-making process, but be careful not to confuse the lack of vendor support with poor system performance.


Building automation system , BAS , energy management system , EMS , retrofit

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