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August 8, 2011 -
Today's tip from comes from James Piper, contributing editor for Building Operating Management: Use these five rules of thumb to evaluate whether to replace or expand the building automation system.
Building automation systems, like all other building components, have a finite life. As they age, they become more difficult and expensive to keep operating. Components for replacement or expansion become harder to find. And frequently, manufactures cut off support to older systems, rendering them obsolete. When one factors in advances in system capabilities, facility executives face a challenging question: Is it better to expand an existing system or to replace it?
Several rules of thumb can help when choosing between expanding the existing system or replacing it:
1. If the existing system is still supported by the manufacturer, has the capability of performing all of the functions needed and has sufficient capacity to expand by 50 percent, consider expanding rather than replacing.
2. If the performance of the existing system is an issue, and the software and firmware have not been upgraded to their latest versions, investigate how an upgrade would improve performance, how much it would cost, and how those costs compare to the cost of replacement.
3. If the lack of proper maintenance has led to the situation where replacement is a consideration, address the maintenance issue first. If maintenance will restore the existing system, it may not be necessary to replace it, but if the system is replaced without addressing maintenance, the cycle will repeat itself.
4. If the existing system is an orphan that cannot be upgraded, replacement most likely will be the best option.
5. Compare the cost of upgrading the existing system to the cost of replacing it. If the existing system is more than ten years old, and the replacement costs is less than 125 percent of the cost to upgrade or expand, replace the system.