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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.