Should BAS Be Open or Proprietary?

BAS, open systems, construction costs, system integration   November 5, 2008

I’m Ed Sullivan, editor of Building Operating Management. Today’s topic is interoperable vs. proprietary building automation systems.

Building automation systems interoperability has received a lot of publicity in the past decade. BACnet, LonMark and Modbus are among the recognized ways of enabling systems from different manufacturers to exchange information and commands. Today, even the very large BAS manufacturers offer interoperable systems.

Interoperable building automation systems provide facility executives with more choices when it comes to product selection and service providers. Because facility executives aren’t locked into a single provider, they can get competitive bids, reducing long term costs of the system.

But specifying an interoperable system is more complex than simply going with a proprietary system. As a result, many facility executives still select proprietary building automation systems. With a proprietary system, one manufacturer is responsible for the project from start to finish. If the system isn’t working as it should, the facility executive knows who to turn to.

But that same manufacturer is also the only one that can provide service and upgrades. As a result, facility executives have little leverage if they are dissatisfied with prices or service.

The bottom line is that there’s a real trade off when it comes to deciding between interoperable and proprietary building automation systems. Facility executives must decide in each case which will work better for their organizations.


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