A quick guide to BMS for anyone beginning their digital transformation journey. Find out what it is, who is involved, where the market is moving and much more…
What is a Building Management System?
Building Management System suppliers provide software, hardware, and services that work together to monitor and control mechanical and electrical equipment in a building such as ventilation, lighting, power systems, fire systems, and security systems.
Users can view temperatures and CO2 readings within the building, energy data, running times of various plant buildings and make adjustments as required to constantly optimise to suit current conditions.
Who are some of the companies involved in BMS?
Players tend to fall into two camps:
- Manufacturers producing the hardware
- Service providers who install, maintain and advise
Manufacturers tend to be dominated by the global electronics groups: Cisco, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Schneider Electric, Siemens.
Service providers, known as system integrators, include multidisciplinary engineers and small independent firms: Spica, Demma, Buildings IoT, Hoare Lea, WSP and many more.
Manufacturer vendors tend to work with their own systems whereas system integrators are agnostic and can work with any hardware and upgrade legacy systems no matter what it is.
How to tell different BMS companies apart
The real difference is made by whoever’s configuring it. When you buy a BMS controller, it’s a completely blank template. And it’s up to the BMS companies to design what inputs and outputs it needs, what values and variables it needs to install and communicate back to it. And then the BMS installers have to programme it. It’s customised for the building every time and the plant that’s there.
The level of efficiency and finetuning can vary widely and likewise the graphics the end user has sight of can be very basic, or glorified with lots of information allowing the ability to operate the building in a smarter way.
Where to start with your BMS
Look for a partner that’s going to help long-term as the BMS system is only as good as the team that actually onboard it, and then also maintain it. Initial efficiency savings can be lost if the building goes off kilter and no one is there to spot and fix it.
Partner with a company that seeks to work with existing infrastructure and devices as much as possible, rather than replacing them. Your solutions providers should also understand when integration isn’t the best option.
As a rule, open-source platforms allow new capabilities to be more easily added as needed. Choosing a provider who can work within an open framework gives you greater flexibility.
This obviously depends on the size of the building: it could range from a few thousand for a small asset with one boiler to a few million for a large block or campus with multiple plant rooms. BMS typically has three cost areas:
- Hardware capex
- Project costs for installation and commissioning
- Maintenance services and potentially software for more advanced users
What are the benefits of BMS?
In simple terms, a BMS allows you to be able to control plant and adjust building comfort levels for occupants. BMS is also a business driver. Technology is an enabler to cut CO2, reduce energy bills, improve occupier experience within buildings. This is not just finding technology solutions for the sake of it.
What’s happening in the BMS market?
Artificial intelligence: how to predict the best building settings and adjust automatically is the goal now: response to weather, occupancy levels and individual desires
Integration to other tech: plugging into other applications such as tenant experience apps; adding layers of data from mobile phones and IoT sensors; exposing data remotely in the cloud to different stakeholders so everyone involved in the asset can see how it’s running
Analytics, without analytical capability you’re left with an unmanageable volume of data that can be more of a problem than a solution. With a smart analytics system designed to facilitate BMS automation, that data can be effectively organised, mined, prioritised and put to use.
Who are the decision-makers buying BMS?
Decision-makers vary from one organisation to another and can include:
- Engineering team, interested in boilers and hot water being at right temperature
- Energy manager focused on reducing energy usage.
- Finance and procurement departments focused on maintenance contracts
- Asset managers developing data strategies; modern BMS allows for easier and cleaner data collection
- Property managers adopting BMS and associated technologies for optimisation of day-to-day functions.
Is BMS adoption growing?
Market research estimates that the total BMS market could reach $19.25bn in 2023.
There’s a huge demand for BMS, right now, led by the massive focus on carbon reduction in the property industry. The energy crisis has driven the value of BMS up further still.
Several years ago, people were reluctant to pay for BMS maintenance. Now they can’t get enough of it because they understand the impact it can have both on their carbon financials and, ultimately, the cost.