Controls and BMS sector moves to rise its profile

Promoting the interests of controls and building-management systems — Doug Robins (left), president of the Building Controls Industry Association, and Terry Sharp, vice-president.
39 specialists in controls and building-management systems have come together to encourage their more effective application.The full spectrum of knowledge and expertise in controls and building-management systems — from manufacturer to installation, systems integration and maintenance — have been brought together with the formation of the Building Controls Industry Association. The Building Controls Group, representing 19 manufacturers of controls and building-management systems, and the 20 members of the Control System Specialists Group, have always had a common interest — despite operating as separate entities for over a decade. Clear ideas BCIA’s president Doug Robins or AES Controls Systems, has very clear ideas of the issues he wants the new organisation to tackle. ‘We want controls and building-management systems to become more important in the design chain,’ he says, explaining that getting controls and building-management systems further up the design chain will achieve intelligent systems with lower life-cycle costs — rather than low initial costs. ‘Some consultants are showing interest in this concept,’ he says. He also has strong views on warranties and retentions. ‘We want to see retentions abolished. A number of organisations are working to this end, and we are in total support.’ On the issue of warranties, he says, ‘It is a total thorn in our side to give a warranty if the system is not properly maintained for the first year or two. We want to see a requirement for maintenance built into the warranty period.’ To boost the profile of the new organisation, its new host is to be the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA), which BCIA will join when it leaves the Energy Systems Trade Association (ESTA) at the end of this year. Procurement route Doug Robins explains, ‘The procurement route for controls and building-management systems is more allied to construction and building services than to energy-management disciplines.’ Becoming a member of FETA is also perceived as giving stronger links to Government in the campaign to promote the benefits of energy efficiency that can be achieved by the effective application of controls and building-management systems.’ On the technical front, BCIA’s technical working group is studying the implications of European standards that are soon to be released. One member is a CEN convener, and he has been working on a new standard that should clarify the requirements at the tendering state, helping to eliminate hidden extras. Doug Robins says, ‘This group is keen to speak with institutions and associations in the construction industry to first ensure that they are aware of this upcoming standard and, if necessary, help them understand how it may change current tendering practices.’ Training scheme Perhaps the most successful co-operative venture between the Building Controls Group and the Control System Specialists Group was the development of its training scheme about 18 months ago. Dubbing the Controls Industry Training Scheme ‘a really big success’ BCIA’s vice-president Terry Sharp explains that 32 courses have resulted in 310 course certificates being issued, of which 54 are technical certificates and eight advanced certificates. The success of the course is already changing work practices. For example, the JIB, which is affiliated to the Construction Skills Certification Scheme, now recognises ‘building controls engineer’ as an occupation. A possible next stage is to develop the training scheme to embrace networking and communications. ‘We want to develop career routes,’ says Doug Robins. ‘There is not a career route for controls engineers. We want defined training courses to give recognised qualifications and to work with educational institutions to develop them.’ Looking beyond design and installation, BCIA is investigating the development of an introductory course to give facilities managers a good understanding of the controls system in their buildings — prompted by enquires outside the industry. Among the perceived benefits is a more equal partnership for facilities managers when working with consultants, contractors and building-controls specialists. In the longer term, to create a higher status for the association and its members, Doug Robins has in mind the development of a code of conduct for members so that customers appreciate that they are dealing with a professional companies. ‘Ultimately,’ he says, ‘we would like to become a professional body.’ Building Controls Industry Association, PO Box 872, Chippenham, Wilts SN15 5WA.
Tel. 01249 721771
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