Choosing a BMS
Published: 02 February, 2017
A building-management system is a powerful tool — in many ways. Reece Thomas of Airedale International Air Conditioning Ltd offers guidance on how to choose a system.
The global building management systems (BMS) market size is projected to surpass US$6 billion (£4.9 billion) by 2023, recent research from Global Market Insights suggests. With buildings becoming ever-more complex and Part L2 of the Building Regulations stating we monitor all services and reduce energy wastage, is it any wonder that we rely upon building-management systems more and more?
To help you evaluate the large range of systems on the market, here is a checklist of key criteria which you should consider when evaluating a BMS partner.
It is essential that your BMS provides a range of reports so that you can monitor measure and forecast your building’s performance to create progressive actions, make system corrections, and optimise your building performance.
Customised, rather than standard, reports that provide data-driven prioritisation based on your own specific goals — for example, saving energy, improving comfort or better life-cycle maintenance — are essential.
Of equal importance is that the reports are visually easy-to-read and can be interpreted by a wide range of people who may need this data to support their role.
According to guidelines from CIBSE, a BMS should be capable of dealing with a future 20% increase in the number of points without compromising the system’s functionality or speed of operation. This ensures that as your organisation grows the solution can meet its needs.
You also need to ensure that your BMS can handle additions, changes and upgrades that any user could potentially require.
Open data communication
One of the key elements behind a BMS is the ability to provide open standard communication protocols such as BACnet or SNMP to allow extensive integration possibilities between different systems and devices. The BMS will need to span older and newer devices and protocols, sometimes aggregate multiple protocols and send the information to front-end system.
Avoid any BMS that uses languages or technical protocols that lock you into using their vendor’s proprietary technology.
A good BMS should flag up maintenance issues, such as inefficient equipment, early so that it can be improved or even replaced.
Having a service contract in place will eliminate unforeseen costs and ensure peace of mind. A contract will also ensure direct and immediate access to the latest system upgrades and software developments.
Selecting a BMS with a standardised design built on previous experience, ensures that all the complex programming work needed to communicate with power, cooling, and IT systems has already been done and that it is already pre-configured to interact with third-party systems — making implementation much simpler. Trying to use highly customised, ‘one-off’ products that aren’t designed to work together can make installation, operation, and maintenance of the tools very difficult.
Proven track record
Look for a provider with solid industry expertise in building management, understands the particular challenges of your sector and is a market leader that will provide a solution that continually evolves to keep up with the market changes.
Ensure that security is a key priority for your BMS provider. Your BMS should include a range of resilient security features with intelligent parameters such as secure remote account logins with defined user-level access, SSL certification to authenticate connections/users and encrypted HTTPS connection and data stream for controllers to the cloud.
As you can see, there are many aspects to consider when selecting the right BMS — but the correct, well specified and up-to-the-minute BMS can transform your building-equipment usage and results.
Reece Thomas is controls project manager of Airedale International Air Conditioning Ltd.
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