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There is a wide range of control options available to facility managers. It's essential to go into the upgrade process with an understanding of the needs of the facility.
"It's really important to choose the right controls for the job, not necessarily the highest controls available," says Sharpe. "If you have multiple buildings, then you probably need controls that can be integrated into an enterprise system. If you have a single building you may just need controls that can communicate alarms off site."
The State of Oklahoma recently began a multiphase, 18 building upgrade of EMS/BAS controls. "We found that we could get more out of new controls than we were getting from our 15-year-old controls and they were 30 to 40 percent less in terms of replacement cost," says Craig Cherry, facilities operations manager for Oklahoma's Department of Central Services, who has a strong background in building automation.
The state spent more than two years in research before embarking on the mammoth project. "Even if you are only doing one building, upgrading controls is going to be a decent expense," says Cherry. "If you are upgrading a campus, you're not looking at a one or two year project. So you'll want to be sure that the controls not only fit the operations of your facilities today, but also they need to be flexible enough to meet changing operations. Our controllers have to be flexible and 100 percent programmable."
During Oklahoma's research phase, Cherry looked at the type of data the state wanted out of its system. "We wanted information on utility usage, trending, logging, maintenance. We wanted all the bells and whistles," says Cherry. "Once we develop the concept for one facility, we also do not want to have to recreate the wheel for the other 17."
Controls Upgrades: Step 1: Survey the Existing Controls
Controls Upgrades: Step 2: Decide What You Want
Controls Upgrades: Step 3: Justify the Upgrade