Investing in a Building Automation System (BAS) is like getting married. If you pick the right partner, have clear expectations going in, and are willing to put in the work to keep things fresh, you will have a happy marriage. If you neglect it, it will take half your money and leave you in the cold.
Building Automation Systems (BAS) can be used to program and control everything from HVAC, lighting, security, process equipment and more. The system can be accessed from your on-site computer or by logging in remotely with a secure internet connection. Since your BAS system is responsible for so much, you must be very careful in selecting and setting it up.
Here are some tips so that you don’t end up wanting to divorce your BAS system:
- Have Clear Expectations Going In. The first step is to identify what your needs are. What kinds of equipment do you want to control? HVAC, lighting, security? Do you want to measure energy usage? How detailed do the reports need to be? Do you want your system to send you alerts when there are changes in unit operations? Next, determine what your needs will be. When making a big investment like this, you want to make sure your system can grow with you. Once you know what you want, you can start looking for the right partner.
- Pick the right partner. There are a lot fish in the sea. Or in this case, many BAS systems and many contractors that install them. Not all of them are the right fit for you. Research what manufacturers and systems will fit your needs now and in the future. Get recommendations from building owners/managers with similar needs. Better yet, work with a contractor that you trust to help you make the right decision for you. It’ll be like Match.com for your BAS system.
- Commit to Working on the Relationship. A BAS system is not a set-it-and-forget-it system. The conditions that existed on the day you originally installed your system will likely change and/or the settings you thought you wanted may not really be what you really need. You can find this out by spending a little time with your system and sharing your thoughts and feelings:
- Pay attention. Monitoring your system will give you enormous amounts of information about your building, equipment and energy usage. You will be able see trends that can save you big money on energy and emergency repairs. If you don’t have time, many contractors offer this service as part of a preventive maintenance program, or as a value-added service. (Note: This works great with your BAS system, but I wouldn’t recommend trying it with your wife.)
- Provide feedback. Keep your system up-to-date on changes in your building’s operation (tenant or usage change), change of occupied schedules, etc. It’s a garbage-in/garbage-out situation. Your BAS will do what you tell it to. Make sure you say what you mean!
- Keep the Relationship Fresh. Though a BAS system can easily last 10-20 years, it will need regular software updates to keep it running correctly. We recommend quarterly software updates, but not less once per year. Think of it as an anniversary gift for your BAS system.
Your BAS wants you to spend time with it, share things, and buy it nice things every once in a while. Treat it right and it will give you back more than you put in.