Crashing the third-party - Why mixed-vendor BEMS will leave you with an uncontrollable hangover
Jun 30, 2014 - There may be short term cost benefits to using a hybrid BEMS plant, but the long term costs may leave you wishing you'd initially opted for a single vendor's solution.
Installing a Building Energy Management system (BEMS) may seem a little like completing a jigsaw. There are many complex pieces to fit together, and choosing the right ones can be difficult.
A single vendor's comprehensive solution will account seamlessly for all the considerations and complications of successful BEMS. And though manufacturers advise against it, using third-party products can initially present a tempting, cheaper solution. But ignoring advice and deviating to a mixed vendor BEMS can result in a Frankenstein's monster of problems, and a hard to control, expensive BEMS hangover later down the line.
Incompatible components make an uncomplimentary cocktail
Though ill-advised, integrating one manufacturer's system into another is possible. However longevity and compatibility can be substantial concerns. Each BEMS manufacturer specifically designs their products to be compatible with one another, both at that time, and in future designs. Choosing devices from one single provider rather than third parties, guarantees quick, seamless and harmonious device integration and operation around a specific protocol. No matter how appealing a third-party component may be initially, if it is incompatible you will not save money, and will not have a functioning system.
Mixing your vendors leads to long-term expense
Aside from incompatibility risks, the primary reason to avoid third-party products is the long-term expense. Initially, when compared to single-vendor costs, the appeal of cheaper-to-buy third-party components is high, especially with today's high concern for conscientious budgeting. But while these components may be budget-friendly at first, maintenance and repair costs are not, and can cause a premature compromise of the entire BEMS itself.
Why are third-party repairs more costly? Because their inclusion is more complex. If a mixed-vendor device malfunctions, and a specified installation and maintenance partner is unable to repair or resolve the problem, then specialist assistance will be required. And specialist help cannot be bought at a low price. The result is that downstream lifecycle costs are not what the end users initially expected. Plus, as mentioned above, added expenses to a mixed-vendor solution can appear over time in the shape of incompatibility. Interoperability should be considered when first selecting a BEMS; whatever the solution use, you want it to still be operable and repairable in twenty years. Because of the compatible design of single-provider components, long-term design means the initial costs are a future investment with good ROI.
Understand your system to know what's right for you
Poor end-user comprehension during the design and specification process of how BEMS function, is a root cause of third party product misuse, and ineffective application. If users don't understand the nuances of the system, they are likely to be convinced to purchase third-party products, and unaware of the risks until something goes wrong. Luckily this is becoming less common due to comprehensive advice and help from BEMS installers during specification.
Keep it simple, specific and system compatible, to be spend-friendly
Ultimately when it comes to BEMS installation, the best advice is to keep systems simple by specifying a solution which can be well supported at every stage of it's life cycle. Staying specifically with one manufacturer who can advise and inform of the best options at every point enables the most efficient maximisation of a system's features, and on-going maintenance, and future expansion or upgrade will all be simpler.
For the best, sustainable, long-term BEMS experience, choosing a single-vendor supported solution will leave you with the optimum energy management, and none of the complexity and pain of a third party BEMS hangover.
Chris Monson is Strategic Marketing Manager at Trend Controls in the UK
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