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BMS three chiller graphic

Building Management System giving you grief?

Unlock your building and ensure market value

Building Management Systems (BMS) were designed as a labor saving device. They can be an absolute delight to work with, delivering information accurately, driving plant equipment, lighting, and other assets effectively or they can be an unmitigated disaster that continually delivers grief and anxiety to those responsible for running the building.

Perhaps you look after a building where the BMS is causing you grief, we may have some constructive information for you…

Common issues

1. Supplier Culture (poor service, over pricing, communication difficulties, arrogance)
2. Doesn’t work properly (Poor engineering or poor design, poor installation)
3. Works, but it is difficult to use, need the supplier all the time (poor programming)
4. Little or no sustainability performance (high costs, no ROI)
5. Obsolescence (1980’s technology)

The most common issue which we have witnessed has to be number one. Often a site is “captured” by a BMS vendor and the owner, the facility management and the property manager all feel compelled to “stick” with the vendor, even though had the vendor been a non-technical supplier they would have been replaced long ago.

So what can you do?

The following is a step by step process to unlock you building and essentially place you in a stronger position with your current supplier.

1. Obtain the Communication (s) protocol of the system.
2. Full access password (if you can’t get this, there is another possibility)
3. C.A.R.E
4. Obtain the functional specification of the system (should be in the O&M manuals)
5. Go to the market

1. The Communications Protocol of the System

The Communications Protocol of the System is the key. There are two main Open protocols which include BACnet and Lon Works.
These Open protocols have been in the market place since the early 90’s, so there is every chance your building uses one of these. It is important to check the function description or ask the vendor to ensure a “truly” open system. You need Native BACnet if it is a BACnet system as there is Proprietary BACnet (which is a conundrum in itself).

2. The BMS System ownership and full access password

The BMS System ownership similar to the chiller, the lifts and so forth. If there is no incumbency over the system (warranty or Comprehensive Service Agreement or similar) then the system is owned by the building owner. Check this with the appropriate representative and/or legal department to be 100% certain for your circumstances.
The password; you can ask the current vendor, the technician or as the owner of the system, the building owner can write and request the password and is entitled to this information.

3. The Functional Specification

The Functional Specification is usually a part of the Mechanical HVAC Operation and Maintenance Manuals or a separate manual all together. This document will make alternative vendor pricing easier for the market (they should also do a site survey and system survey).

4. C.A.R.E

Make sure you have a current full system back up and a few copies of it for your absolute worst case scenario. Date these. An important note here: now you have the password DO NOT PLAY!

5. Going to the Market

Call the large companies, but give consideration to jumping from one fire in to the next. Google those protocols above, “control companies”, “BMS” and so forth and you will find a plethora of SME’s that can help you and will bend over backwards to keep you as a long term client. We know of at least 30 Australian owned companies that can help you.

Open and Closed System

Your Current Supplier/Vendor knows the information above; they know you have a right to “shop” for the best service and value for money you can buy. This is essentially why the consultant, whom designed and outlined your system in the construction stage, specified the Open protocols. It’s insurance to source multiple vendors without having to replace an entire system.
These Open Protocols and Full access passwords make it easier to go to Market, if you have a closed Proprietary BMS system or no full access passwords or both, there are technicians and companies that can still help, as with any computer system, “there are ways”.

Conclusion

There is a lot more to discuss as every situation is different. We can talk about open platforms, Proprietary Systems, more on open Protocols and the other four typical BMS issues, but my coffee has just landed so we’ll save it for next time.

Thank you for your time.

Nigel Wraight
Principle
Wraight Property

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