September 2004
  
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Buying Open Systems
(in Building Automation)

Open systems bought in the right way gives the full opportunity for the best price to be realised by the client. Open Systems reduce life cycle costs, add functionality and all at no extra expenditure on capital cost.

 

Paul D.J. Mason, C.E.O. 
BWP plc

Contributing Editor


This is the sixth of 9 articles where we are introducing the cost benefit for interoperability and that gained from the procurement technique achievable with open systems and choice. 

August's article Open Systems Standards
July's article
LonMark International and the LonMark System
June's article More Intelligent Building and save money, VBHQ part 2

May's article Intelligent Intelligent Building, VBHQ Part 1
April's introductory article Cost Comparison Model Open vs Proprietary

Evolution:
In nature only open systems exist.
If nature had been a closed system there would have been no progress, no evolution.
Closed systems are manmade and only serve the purposes of those closed systems.

Therefore: Open Systems must be fundamentally better since all closed systems cannot evolve other than to being an Open System.

Technology moves onwards, if products exist that can contribute to the lowering of life cycle costs at no extra cost and at the same time can provide more functions faster and more safely and again at no extra cost then these products must be considered better.
Technology was the problem and technology is the answer.
Open System B.A.S. enhances buildings through lower life cycle costs at no extra capital cost. Open access to B.A.S. information improves the quality of service being provided to people who live inside these buildings.
Interoperation provides the lowest cost opportunity, significant life cycle cost savings and even better quality of service to the users.

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Buying “Technical” Systems
The purchase of proprietary (or closed) systems has always been difficult. Each of these types of systems have many interfaces that can only be fully resolved after the whole design and crucially after the equipment to be used is completely known.

This complexity leads to the procurement of a lump-sum package and all risks and with a maintenance package as the carrot and a payment of risk to that package owner.

It is the case that all the interface knowledge cannot exist in an open tender situation at the point of the project starting on site. It is often many months into a project before the mechanical and electrical works progress their procurement sufficiently to allow finalisation of the B.A.S. packages. This finalisation normally requires a further iteration of equipment suppliers and specialists with attendant time and risk. The Client inevitably pays for any risk costs. Consultants and Contractors find the complexity of buying technical systems any other way just too difficult.

Why buy Open Systems?
3 reasons:    1.  less expensive than closed systems,    2.  value for money,    3.  future opportunity.

Standardised components improve choice and competition
Better and more equivalent competitive tenders can arise from standardised components from many suppliers. This “commodity” market improves the choice available at all levels of the system. Design or re-design can be with a uniform method that is entirely modular and scalable. Assembly of standards into customised systems to meet fairly typical function and performance specifications leads to reduced risk to all organisations involved.

Standardisation
Standards with an evolution path are good for all organisations and good for choice and good for research and development.

Open Systems standards exist and will be certified by the International Standards Organisation.

The standards needed for Open Systems start with communications protocols; this standardisation enables open access to data by many “standard” software tools.

If all the products bought in a sub-network operated with standard languages then the products could be of different manufacture now and in the future.

Open Systems allows a new approach
Open Systems allows a new approach to buying Building Automation Systems (B.A.S.) through the standards enabling the products to become like commodities.

Open Systems cost no more,   Integrated systems cost less,   Data access is simpler
All the components of Open Systems are the same as closed systems.

If the lighting control system were integrated with the BMS then the synergies would be responsible for less cost.

Web service ”headend” is perfectly normal, is low cost and quite straight forward in an Open System B.A.S.

Access to information in an open format is the right thing for data transfer between many software packages.

CatNet Systems Cable and install costs less, open access to media
The people who are best suited to install cables should install the standard data cables and the associated standard connectors. It is better for maintenance to have an open cable / connector infrastructure that has ease of access – plug’n’play style.

Life Cycle benefits, Open Systems are better for maintenance
There is opportunity to integrate different manufacturer’s products on the sub-networks and ultimately an opportunity will exist to interchange different manufacturer’s products.

Summary
Open Systems in Building Automation Systems (B.A.S.) is about choice, at project inception and in the life the systems. Open Systems provide a choice at basic component level. The collection of components into sub-systems and into turnkey systems allows choices of levels of systems to be bought separately and competitively. The best product for the job can be selected. Open Systems B.A.S. is a good choice because the interfaces are minimised and simplified.

Open Systems approach to B.A.S. is now available and is proven. Technology has solved the technical issues through the use of open access to media and with standard protocols. Open Systems where standards are dominant is an idea that befits modern thinking in the service sector.

Benefits to all users, by Element

  1. System Design
  2. Package Plant
  3. Integrated System
  4. Infrastructure
  5. Web Service
  6. System Disconnection

System Design

System Design

Client, Owner / Developer;  Agent / Property Marketing
Design using standards are much easier to sell on or live with as an owner / occupier.

Cost Consultant / Quantity Surveyor;  Contract Administrator / Architect
Cost certainty and comparisons are easily administered.

Technical Notes / Designer / Specifier
Open Systems enable the technical systems that go to make up Building Automation to be “disconnected”. In terms of design this disconnection can lead to clear design and cost separation. The Head End Network can be selected to a variety of specifications including none at all; although the network configuration will need to be kept on disc for use with a portable tool from an Integrator. The infrastructure is most important, the infrastructure must provide for equal access with standard connectors and using standard cables e.g. Cat 5 or on the back of a modular wiring system. These are cables and connectors from any number of suppliers and ideally installed in a structured wiring style. The routers as an active part are recommended as the termination point of the sub-net; the router activates the sub-net and is the point for checking the sub-net. The sub-net can be any Building Automation System service, HVAC, Lighting, Access or combinations of these depending on scale and modularity. Commodity products or package plant, i.e. lighting control modules or air handling unit complete packages are the great benefit of this system design and should be developed for everyone’s benefit.

Manufacturer
Standards and package plant opportunities in the OEM market are both beneficial.

Main contractor / Construction manager
Cost certainty and competitive tendering are easily administered.

Main sub-contractor estimator / Main sub-contractor / Specialist sub-contractor
Cost certainty and competitive tendering are easily administered. Standard design methodology allows repetition and speed.

Facilities Manager / Maintenance service provider
Certainty and consistency from design would enable simple development and this can lead to genuine competition from many service providers when in moves and changes or redevelopment.

Package Plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

Client, Owner / Developer; Agent / Property Marketing
What you see is what you get style, this would be instead of buying something and then having to buy something else to make it work like the closed system methodology.

Cost Consultant / Quantity Surveyor;  Contract Administrator / Architect
In construction the costs are on a like for like basis, the product warranties are simple and the system warranties are more clearly defined. Budget checking is also simple to achieve.

PlantPROCORE Technical Notes / Designer / Specifier
A commodity is something that works standalone and is complete with everything necessary to carry out its function. The required function includes being able to be connected without any extra hardware, simply a standard plug and cable connection.

Manufacturer
Opportunity for equipment manufacturers to add value to their products by having standard microprocessor controls arranged to suit the application and completely with no need to consider the control system in the building. A few open systems solutions can be provided by the manufacturer who can negotiate open system equipment supply that is based on price, delivery, volume, quality and service.

Open systems enable manufacturers to supply components just as though they were commodities. This is possible through standardisation and the avoidance of proprietary or special data interfaces. This standardisation is particularly good for manufacturers and provides greater certainty throughout the whole specification, installation and maintenance process. Factory quality and factory centralised buying leads to the reduction of overall costs throughout the process and the improvement quality for the owners or developers.

Main contractor / Construction manager
Buying package plant “ready to work” has got to be the best option.

Main sub-contractor estimator / Main sub-contractor / Specialist sub-contractor
Easy to price, reduced risks, setting to work simple, system “integration” can be by others.

Facilities Manager / Maintenance service provider
Certainty and consistency from package plant would enable simple diagnosis and this can lead to competition from many service providers when in operation and maintenance.

Integrated System

Integrated System

Client, Owner / Developer; Agent / Property Marketing
Network arrangements can easily develop from a basic minimum specification.

Cost Consultant / Quantity Surveyor;  Contract Administrator / Architect
The sub-systems can be a variety of commodity products bought in a number trade packages and free issued or are bought as appropriate; the sub-systems could each be same manufacturer products or different manufacturers – makes no difference.

Technical Notes / Designer / Specifier
Open Systems enable all those different products to group into physical channels and so to connect to the data network backbone. Integration of data and accountability with respect to any integrated data is only a perceived risk.

Sub-net products are designed for function and performance to meet the tasks as defined, the tasks are simple in themselves and easy to understand and define as entities and so can be tested in situ or disconnected if believed errant in any way.

Manufacturer
Open Systems products are offered and compete on price, delivery, service and quality, and degree of openness, selection of the products is by the Systems Integrator.

Main contractor / Construction manager
Appointment of Systems Integrator can be based on number of nodes to integrate onto the network. Elemental cost per sub-net is available as are engineering costs per node on the sub-net; there is the ability for different products available per sub-net or per node. Partial completion by sub-net is also possible.

Works package set up may vary design and determine the number of sub-nets and backbones, this advice is by the Systems Integrator and for submission to the specifier – Selection (that is design) is by the Systems Integrator

Main sub-contractor estimator / Main sub-contractor / Specialist sub-contractor
Easy to understand and price, - Management of the system sub-net by sub-net is easily possible - Isolation of a sub-net is easily possible for fault diagnosis - Direct comparison of systems is possible

Facilities Manager / Maintenance service provider
Isolation of a sub-net is easily possible for fault diagnosis - Isolation of sub-net for a fit-out or extension of services is easily possible

Infrastructure

Infrastructure 


Client, Owner / Developer;  Agent / Property Marketing
Good infrastructure is a relatively low cost, high value item that becomes a facility in place ready for decisions that can be made in the future. Basically this is a simple network of “flood” wiring for the Building Automation Systems.

Cost Consultant / Quantity Surveyor;  Contract Administrator / Architect
Cable costs are easy to manage, to specify and control. Group purchase of all cables does make economic sense.

Technical Notes / Designer / Specifier
The key to Open Systems is open infrastructure where standard equipment is used, like Cat 5 components with RJ45 connectors or Modular Wiring components with Wieland connectors. Standard components complete with patch panels that quickly demonstrate “disconnecting systems” show how the cabling can be supplied and installed by the best company for price and performance. Components, commodities and equipment can all be simply plugged onto the cable systems at any time at inception or in future for choice and best cost.

Manufacturer
All products should be designed for straightforward connection onto open access infrastructure and with standard connectors.

Main contractor / Construction manager
Cable supply and install can be identified and procured at most cost effective price.

Main sub-contractor estimator / Main sub-contractor / Specialist sub-contractor
Infrastructure as a known element and location can be connected to with ease and thereby the equipment costs and any associated risks are reduced.

Facilities Manager / Maintenance service provider
This infrastructure is ideal to manage the systems in the life of the building.

Web Service

Web Service 
 

Client, Owner / Developer;  Agent / Property Marketing
The monitoring capability can be bought at project inception or anytime later. It is easy to see what you get for your money. With buy now or later flexibility, i.e. simple additions to the installed network, the building can be adapted to move quickly to any new activities. The information is a standard data type and ready for intra-net or similar.

Cost Consultant / Quantity Surveyor;  Contract Administrator / Architect
The Head End can be specified separately to any level required now or future and can be bought through a number of sources. The system is easier to understand and to budget.

Technical Notes / Designer / Specifier
The network management tools do not need to be a permanent feature but are needed to set up the system. The access control system server PC maybe required if a personnel database were required for updating.

J2 Innovations Manufacturer
Manufacturers can avoid expensive continuous development of complex system supervisory software if they choose or they can produce a product as a differential in the marketplace. Standard neutral supervisory software can easily link to standard data types.

Main contractor / Construction manager
Easy to price and identify the offer and easy to understand the package and each element.

Main sub-contractor estimator / Main sub-contractor / Specialist sub-contractor
Easy to price and identify the offer and easy to understand the package and each element.

Facilities Manager / Maintenance service provider
The Head End system is standard office web browser, any web enabled device. No lock-in can be forced on to the user due to the openness of “browsers”; openness also allows competition with any replacement software to ensure reasonable costs for change.

System Disconnection

Open Systems enable Building Automation Systems (B.A.S.) to be “disconnected”.
Proprietary (or closed) systems have many interdependent interfaces and these are different for each of the proprietary systems; these interfaces are difficult to manage throughout the whole process of procurement. Each of the systems have many interfaces that can only be fully resolved after the whole design and crucially after the equipment to be used is completely known.
The following diagram shows the disconnection possible with Open Systems, a B.A.S. is split into “easy purchase” packages, none of which is dependent on the other purchases.

System Disconnection

Client, Owner / Developer;  Agent / Property Marketing
Choices are greater, many opportunities to provide facilities for future use and at different times within the programme for decision making.

Cost Consultant / Quantity Surveyor;  Contract Administrator / Architect
Competition and cost control are all improved. The ability to “disconnect” the system elements is a major facility in the cost control of Building Automation Systems.

Technical Notes / Designer / Specifier
Many choices exist to match the budget, the procurement route and the building services design.

Manufacturer
Standards in place reduces research and development risk, many opportunities exist in the existing stock of buildings.

Main contractor / Construction manager
Standards, choice and reduced risk from Open Systems facilities must be better than an end to end specification that has many interdependent interfaces.

Main sub-contractor estimator / Main sub-contractor / Specialist sub-contractor
Simpler to price and control and all in easily manageable units. Interfaces are simple and are with reduced risk as a result.

Facilities Manager / Maintenance service provider
The disconnection in the construction process leads straight into useful “partition” facilities in the life of the building. Existing buildings have opportunities in that elements can be bought and developed in isolation or in sequence, it is not necessary to have the whole system in place and it allows flexibility and choice of supply of products, contractors and methods of procurement – now and in the future.

Conclusion

If a solution were to provide lower life cycle costs with increased functionality and with no extra expenditure on capital cost then it should be put at the disposal of the client body.

The Open Systems solution provides lower life cycle costs and increased functionality but with no extra expenditure on capital cost.

Whereas concept and design maybe understood by specialist engineers it needs to be the case that a much wider audience needs to know how to buy Open Systems. A formula approach would be good, the approach required needs to be modular, scalable and easy to use such that the full opportunity for the best price may be realised by the client.

Control Solutions, Inc This paper proposes such a formula approach that aims to translate across the whole construction industry from property professionals and clients / developers to contractors and professional teams. The approach also needs to work for the existing stock of buildings and this includes the maintainers and the facilities managers.

Open systems bought in the right way gives the full opportunity for the best price to be realised by the client. Open Systems reduce life cycle costs, add functionality and all at no extra expenditure on capital cost.

The efficient use of buildings, space and business systems to support staff in the effective operating of the business is a reasonable position to adopt in the design of buildings.

(Acknowledgement: BCO Occasional Paper September 1992 “The Intelligent Building in Europe” by DEGW (London) and Technibank (Milan).)

Building Automation Systems (B.A.S.) have their part to play in the efficient use of buildings. The intelligent use of Building Automation can enhance the effective operating of the business; this must be good.

Next month

Come back next month for a short sharp article on "Everyone Wins"

The programme we have for you continues to run as follows:
1. April "Intro"
2. May "VBHQ part 1",  or go to www.LonMark.org follow the VBHQ motif
3. June "VBHQ part 2", or go to www.LonMark.org follow the VBHQ motif
4. July "LonMark International" and the "LonMark System" , or go to www.LonMark.org follow the VBHQ motif
5. August "Open Systems Standards”, or go to www.LonMark.org follow the VBHQ motif
6. September "Procurement Advice" or go to www.LonMark.org follow the VBHQ motif
7. October "Everyone Wins"
8. November "Consultants Design Notes and Openness is Safer"
9. December "Case Study Notes for Consultants"


About the Author

Paul D.J. Mason B.Eng (Hons), C.E.O. at BWP plc who are based in London and the East Anglia region United Kingdom. BWP have an affiliate office, DWP, in Paris, France. BWP is a niche high quality building services consulting engineering design service company and specialist in "green" engineering. BWP currently employ 27 people. Paul (45) has a career encompassing Marine Engineering Royal Navy, the Property Services Agency of the UK Department of Environment, University as a mature student, and since 1989, with 2 private sector building services design companies "CJP" and since 1997 "BWP". Since 1999 BWP primarily specify the LonMark System.

BWP are members of LonUsers UK, Associate members of LonMark International, the Intelligent Building Group, the British Council of Offices, Building Services Research and Information Association, Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers and the Association of Consulting Engineers. Paul is an invited Contributing Editor through 2004 with www.automatedbuildings.com.

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