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By Andy WakefieldLighting is operationally essential in every institutional and commercial building. A well-managed lighting control system will help facilities save energy, increase comfort, and enhance productivity. Maintenance and engineering managers can follow these five simple steps to unlock the full potential in their facility’s lighting control system and enhance the budget’s bottom line.1. Start with the basics. Document what you have. What do you know about your lighting control system? Is it a single manufacturer or a mix of systems and components? How old is it? What kind of warranties and technical support options do you have? Take the time to walk through your buildings, map out what your systems are controlling, and understand the strategies you are using. This is the first step to identifying what works and what you might want to change.2. Dig into the details. Get familiar with the defined Sequence-of-Operations and original system setup. Chances are, your lighting control needs have changed. Schedule a retro-commissioning visit and decide whether to add control capabilities, make programming changes, and maximize system performance. Whether or not it’s time to make changes, the more you know, the less time and money you will invest responding to trouble tickets and perceived problems.3. Use it or lose it. Keep your staff trained and up-to-speed. Train. Train. Train. Identify your most advanced system operators and work with them to build a proactive training plan. Get your whole staff involved to make sure they utilize the system and the software frequently, even if it’s just for practice. Do not wait until there’s a problem to get your entire staff familiar with and actively using the lighting control system.4. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Focus on preventive maintenance to minimize emergencies. Managers should consider the following:
Work with your manufacturers to understand what service contracts and software upgrades are available, and put regular maintenance visits on the schedule. Whenever possible, work with vendors who provide robust 24/7 service and support for when the unexpected happens.5. Plan for the entire lifecycle of your system. Buildings needs change over time. Your lighting control system has to be flexible enough to change with your building needs and stay ahead of energy codes and sustainability goals. Planning ahead will ensure a long life and a strong return on investment.Look into wireless systems that are designed for maximum expandability with minimum impact. Use system diagnostics to analyze energy use, building occupancy, and employee patterns to ensure operational efficiency. In many cases you can use exiting wiring and components, which can make upgrades cost-effective. Finally, proactively plan for replacements and upgrades – don’t wait for emergencies and risk expensive interruptions to business operations.These 5 steps are key to ensuring that your lighting control system helps you manage building efficiency and improve results. Get in front of common challenges, optimize your system, and improve your bottom line.Andy Wakefield is the Senior Sales Director — Building Solutions and Services, for Lutron Electronics.