– Frederick Morency and Ken Sinclair
Morency, VP Small Building Systems, Schneider
and President of Viconics
Frederick Morency is a seasoned executive in the power industry, with
broad experience in North America and Europe and more than 15 years of
service with Schneider Electric in a wide range of positions. His deep
commitment to the industry, his international experience, and the
breadth of management responsibilities with Schneider Electric have
given Mr. Morency a unique understanding of the issues facing building
owners and managers in today’s world.
Small and Medium Commercial
This re-engineering of the traditional BMS offers some key advantages
of its predecessors: programmability and flexibility.
Five years ago, nobody was talking about small and medium commercial
building control. Yet today, even Forbes is spotlighting it in their
publication. What has changed over this period of time?
Many things have changed in building automation, but also in other
industries. It used to be that companies thought about the very small,
or the very large – residential or skyscraper. Nobody typically thought
about what rests in the middle. Today, many new entrants look at the
mid-market space and notice unanswered needs, which translate into
business opportunities. You see it with companies like GoDaddy, that
offer websites for small businesses, or with Intuit that offers payment
solutions for the same clientele. In building automation, the
mid-market opportunity is to offer energy efficiency and building
control for small to medium sites. This can mean individual small
businesses, multi-location retail, banking and restaurant chains,
health clinics, or K-12 school boards. Most people don’t realize that
these smaller facilities represent approximately 98% of commercial
buildings in the USA. And until a few years ago, nobody was talking
about that space because there wasn’t a solution designed specifically
to bring value to it.
That’s why we’ve introduced SmartStruxure™ Lite solution, which is a
complete building management system (BMS) targeted at facilities
between 1,000 sq.ft. to 100,000 sq.ft. It was designed with two ideas
in mind; reduce the total cost of ownership of building management
systems for smaller sites, while maintaining the flexibility that you
have in traditional, larger systems.
traditional BMSs aren’t suitable for this mid-market, what is different
about SmartStruxure Lite solution that allows you to get into those
The main reason why traditional BMSs never reached the mid-market is
because of fixed costs. There are gateways and servers in every system
– you can’t go around them – that set the price point of any
installation above what makes sense for a smaller facility.
CAN2GO, a recent acquisition of Schneider Electric, changed this state
of affairs four years ago by introducing the multi-purpose manager
(MPM), which uses embedded software and modular hardware components to
combine controller, gateway and server functionality into a single,
affordable device. That is the backbone of lowering the total cost of
ownership and answering the financial targets set by small and medium
facility managers and building owners.
This re-engineering of the traditional BMS offers some key advantages
of its predecessors: programmability and flexibility. In the building
automation industry, it’s understood that each building is different.
The HVAC and lighting equipment is completely different depending on
the region and climate conditions. The number of points and the needs
will also differ between a restaurant on the highway, a small-town town
hall, a mini-mall in the suburbs, a school in the city, a car
dealership, or a health clinic sharing commercial space with a law
practice and a mobile phone shop. Those are all different kinds of
mid-market facilities that any system has to be able to adapt to.
The only constant you’ll find in all these circumstances is that if you
can reduce energy expenses, improve comfort, and reduce maintenance
costs, the decision makers are ready to listen. The challenge is to
maintain flexibility while achieving the lowest total install cost.
across applications and protocols has always been a challenge in
building management systems. How is it addressed in these smaller
buildings that make up this mid-market?
That is the key, right? To address all the aforementioned differences,
you need multi-protocol support without increasing price. This is why
we’ve combined our modular hardware and embedded software approach to
integrate the largest number of open protocols possible. Today, our MPM
– which is about twice the width of an iPhone and a bit thicker –
supports analog and binary inputs and outputs, Modbus®, ZigBee® and
EnOcean®, and converts everything into BACnet® IP, and EcoStruxure™ Web
Services. All the points, programmability, control, and visibility of
the system is done through a web interface that is hosted locally by
the MPM, but that is accessible remotely, like any large BMS.
This enables management of a wide variety of equipment and systems, as
well as peripherals and end-devices, across applications. By leveraging
the deep portfolio of offers from Schneider Electric, the MPM can
achieve the challenge of delivering best-in-class value for HVAC,
lighting and metering. In HVAC for example, you get the full value of
our room controller offer such as quick installation, efficient
engineering, advanced control technology and scalability – and the
flexibility brought by the MPM when they are connected by Zigbee Pro.
Same thing for metering, where the MPM supports a wide number of the
Schneider Electric power meter offers through pre-engineered objects,
for efficient deployment and integration.
What is the difference
between SmartStruxure Lite solution and other offers you hear about for
smaller commercial buildings?
Going back to the realization that the mid-market exists, many
companies are now taking a closer look at their energy consumption and
realize how it can be turned into an opportunity. However, many tend to
focus on single, limited applications without scalability or
adaptability potential. That’s what you get with packages including a
few “smart thermostats” tied to a webpage. This can be a good solution
for a home, but as you move into commercial spaces with different
equipment, different usage and different needs, you need to expand your
scope, be able to adapt to specific needs, and integrate a wide variety
of equipments and sensors.
It’s also important to consider whether or not you can add lighting to
that system. What about occupancy detection? A power meter maybe? And
how deep can you configure this system to the particularities of the
A restaurant will have a customer area, a very hot kitchen, and some
back office space. All these zones have to be managed very differently
in terms of controlling the environment for comfort. In buildings like
these, ensuring guest comfort is an essential part in maximizing the
impact on the bottom line.
A school has constant use of classrooms during the day for most of the
year. The cafeteria, hall, and gymnasium are used more sporadically.
Some classrooms won’t be used if they are under capacity, while there
are portables if they are over capacity. Facility managers must manage
each of these environments differently, again to maximize the bottom
Retail stores may have different ratios of customer-facing space versus
storage space. In an effort to enhance your customer’s shopping
experience, the retail space must be comfortable. As such, your control
sequence, scheduling and set point won’t be same throughout the store,
which can grow pretty big under 100,000 sq.ft.
Unlike other offers on the market, SmartStruxure Lite solution is
uniquely positioned to address all these different mid-markets as well
as their key solution benefits: openness, flexibility and scalability.
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