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Today's tip from comes from James Piper, contributing editor for Building Operating Management: Consider these five factors when considering whether to expand or replace a building automation system.
1. Evolution in the building automation field has brought changes not only in what the systems can accomplish but also in how they accomplish it. While this has led to increased system performance at a lower cost, it has also made many older systems obsolete. Many of those systems simply are not compatible with the architecture employed in new system designs. As a result, if any changes are made to the existing system, they must be made using components compatible with that system.
2. Manufacturers promote the new systems while phasing out the older ones. While most will continue to support older systems for a period of time, there comes a point when it is no longer economically feasible for them to do so. When this occurs, replacement and expansion parts become difficult or impossible to find. Service support may no longer be available.
3. Some limitations of existing systems may be the result of the way the system has been operated and maintained. Some system owners fail to keep up with upgrades to the system's software, firmware and hardware. These upgrades often serve to correct past operating problems as well as to offer system enhancements. Without them, system performance will suffer, particularly in comparison to new and upgraded systems.
4. Talk to those who operate, maintain, and work with the existing systems to identify strengths and the weaknesses. The operating staff can also help to determine if the number of problems is remaining constant, increasing or decreasing.
5. Finally, determine how well the existing system is being maintained. What might be perceived as a system limitation may be the result of a lack of proper maintenance. If the existing system is not being properly maintained, how can management ensure that the new system will not suffer the same consequences?