January 2019

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BAS is About to Get Bumpy!!!

The BAS backbone is quickly CHANGING to IP, and as it does, the industry needs to add IT-managed services to their capabilities to handle it.

Scott Cochrane

Scott Cochrane,
President and CEO,
Cochrane Supply & Engineering

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A glimpse of the near future.  As we have been interacting and interviewing contractors, one trend is becoming clear in my opinion… BAS CHANGE!!  Here are my examples for consideration on the topic:

BAS Backbone Change – The BAS industry is no longer welcome on many owners’ IT networks, and connecting unprotected BAS systems to their networks is fast-becoming a cyber-security, operational and liability nightmare.  As we move from requesting two IP addresses for a building BAS to 250, the owner’s IT departments do not typically have the capacity, capability or bandwidth to add unitary devices like VAV controllers to their network. The BAS backbone is quickly CHANGING to IP, and as it does, the industry needs to add IT-managed services to their capabilities to handle it.

Now, more than ever, my contracting customers are hiring or partnering with managed IT service people and companies.  The contractor’s IT staff has become a crucial part of every project and is helping them cut down on huge expenses. Utilizing professional IT personnel to collaborate with the owner’s IT departments in a new way is cutting down on the time and costs associated with connecting systems and services to the internet and owner’s networks. This allows these contractors to be much more competitive with a higher value proposition for their customers who need them to understand IT technology now more than ever.
BAS Project Product Mix Change – BAS systems provided today are a mix of the following: traditional BAS system hardware, programming software, packaged smart equipment with networked controllers, a network software platform (or two or three), legacy drivers connected to older controls and equipment, servers/data centers/hosted services, firewalls, managed switches, and the list keeps going.

When I started in the industry on the tail of pneumatics, when we did a system architecture for a DDC system, everything for the project was from a single vendor except one PC.  Today, the content of the project is being split up, and the traditional BAS system hardware demand is decreasing (versus increasing) demand for gateways, legacy drivers and packaged equipment with smart controls embedded.  With the convergence of IT, there are even more products that will continue to splinter this product mix further and require the traditional BAS industry suppliers to re-evaluate themselves and how they bring value to this new mixed market.

BAS Personnel 2020 – The new bright faces I work with have a different sense of the industry.  They don’t come from the trades as I remember from the pneumatic days and many are new to mechanical/electrical systems. But, what they all have is a keen understanding of digital technology and how to use it in their daily lives.  They don’t know everything because they don’t need to; they know how to use technology and can advance so much faster than we could just a few years ago. 

They are making analytic, artificial intelligence, advanced diagnostic, and seamless web services—and they are not slowing down. They are going faster. 

If you don’t have one of these, you’re screwed in 2020. I think that will be the last year the traditional BAS market dominates before it is surrendered to the new generation of building engineers. 

We invite you to capture more insights on Building Automation 101, the Future of Building Automation, and much more by joining us at the 2019 AHR Expo taking place Jan. 14-16 in Atlanta, GA, as well as at Controls-Con 2019 May 2-3 in Detroit, MI. Don’t miss these opportunities to educate yourself on the latest industry technologies and to open your mind to the Edge of Change that is upon us!

About the Author

Scott Cochrane is President and CEO of Cochrane Supply & Engineering, a leading industrial IoT and building controls suppliers with locations throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky, as well as President of Canada Controls. In 2000, Scott took over the business from his father, Donald Cochrane, Sr., who founded the company 50 years ago. He is proud to be an advisory council member for multiple industry manufacturers such as Honeywell, Johnson Controls, and Tridium, and to be named a 2016 IBcon Digital Impact Award Winner for his innovative contributions to the industry.


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