August 2022
Interview

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 INTERVIEW

Giving System Integrators a Seat at the Design Table

Systems Integrator perspective on Facilities Management 2.0
 

Q&A by Justin Lavoie, VP Channel Development at Schneider Electric https://www.linkedin.com/in/justin-lavoie-84893910/

and Tony Nolan, President of Triton Concepts https://www.linkedin.com/in/tony-nolan-0476345a/




                   



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1.  As a Systems Integrator, what is your perspective on Facilities Management 2.0 (FM 2.0) and the impact it could have on our industry?

Tony: The first thing to note is that there is a lot of talk in the industry about FM 2.0, but minimal action. Everyone is looking to find a way to adopt the new model but everyone is having difficulty implementing it. We have met with countless end users that like the concept but are struggling with deployment.

At the Systems Integrator level, it’s extremely exciting to see ideas like FM2.0 receive mainstream industry acceptance. The end goal of the FM 2.0 approach is to deliver better outcomes for the end user by utilizing digital strategies. There is a great opportunity for the construction industry to catch up with other industries that have been at the forefront of digital development. As a Systems Integrator, Triton Concepts is well suited to working in this space, and FM 2.0 represents an opportunity for us to expand our scope of service for our clients.

Justin: Our perspective as a solutions provider is focused on how to shift the industry forward from minimal action on FM 2.0, as Tony mentioned, to full implementation. The openness of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure solutions can facilitate the industry wide progression of FM 2.0 because they operate in conjunction with all the electrical systems in the building. The impact that solutions like EcoStruxure could have on the industry is exciting, as collaboration between all stakeholders and alignment with the needs of facility management from the start leads to better outcomes for the end users.

FM 2.0 is about digital strategies, but also about considering facility management needs at the start to keep everyone aligned and working towards the same goals, which fosters better results for both the building inhabitants and the facility managers. For example, there are often times when a project only needs one meter rather than two, but both meters have already been purchased — enacting FM 2.0 means that all parties involved can review the big picture ahead of time and save costs by eliminating duplicate materials from the budget before they’re purchased.

2.      What are some of the biggest obstacles facing our industry when it comes to the deployment of digitized facility infrastructures to support new FM outcomes?

Tony: The biggest obstacle preventing the deployment of digitized facility infrastructures is the inertia that exists in the industry. Developers, contractors, and engineers have been working with the same delivery models for a long time. Changing the process and taking on a new challenge can present a risk to all parties.

A general contractor is a great example to consider. They may not have a mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) coordinator or superintendent that is experienced in overseeing a low voltage technology contractor or master systems integrator (MSI). Even budgeting a technology package that doesn’t fit into conventional scoping documents can be a challenge. So, the team will conform to the norm and break out packages between the mechanical, electrical, and other tier contractors.

Another example would be design engineers, who often don’t have well-developed and defined specifications to support the FM 2.0 approach. It can be more difficult for them to fulfill their ‘trusted expert’ role and may even harm relationships they hold with vendors who have supported them in the past when working within the conventional design approach.

The best way to sum up the obstacles to the deployment of digitized facility infrastructures is that risk frequently leads to a return to traditional design and delivery. 

Justin: Agreed - the biggest obstacle is definitely the industry’s reliance on traditional deployment methods. The typical model of how a building project is purchased needs to change in order to achieve digitized facility infrastructures and support FM 2.0.

In light of the obstacles in play, the Division 25 specification makes digitized facility infrastructure achievable by helping facility managers find specifications in one low voltage package for local solutions. This specification also bridges the gap between HVAC, electrical, security, and other systems to prevent confusion and reduce building costs. The data integration and system interconnectivity laid out in the Division 25 specification clears the way for lower energy costs and increased efficiency, which ultimately supports the new facility management outcomes associated with FM 2.0. This makes it easier for the contractors and design engineers who don’t have certain resources to adapt to the changes that come with FM 2.0 and trust novel processes.

3.      How has your partnership with Schneider Electric driven improvements in the technology and systems you have deployed for your clients?

Tony: It is a privilege to be a part of the Schneider Electric EcoXpert program. We are the fastest growing Systems Integrator on the West Coast, and Schneider Electric has been instrumental in launching our business. They have the tools to assist in the design process and have all the solutions available for us to help our clients adopt the FM 2.0 approach on a single platform. Our clients get peace of mind knowing that all the systems designed by Schneider Electric are intended to be deployed and operated together.

Over the last 20+ years, low-voltage systems have become smarter, but the default approach for implementation of these systems has been to ‘separate and integrate.’ Each system was independently evaluated, selected, purchased, and installed. The Systems Integrator ‘makes it work’ and the resulting product delivered to the end user offers low level functionality between systems. The essence of FM2.0 is to use what we call an integral approach, where the systems are selected and designed for their interoperability. Schneider Electric has driven this to the deepest levels of their EcoStruxure platform.

Justin: We love to hear how our EcoStruxure solutions help our EcoXperts, like Triton Concepts, launch their businesses and seamlessly integrate systems. Our EcoXperts see firsthand just how vital digital transformation is for the industry. They play a significant role in enabling this transformation by delivering smart, integrated solutions to their customers.

Given the ever-changing nature of our world, it’s important to adapt to meet the evolving needs of our customers, especially as the workplace becomes more digital than ever. By working with our EcoXperts we can support the unforeseen demands of the future with best-in-class technologies and solutions. We commend our EcoXperts for their passion and commitment to our program, which is obvious in the investments and trainings they put into it.

4.      Where have you seen success and what tips would you have for building owners / operators?

Tony: It may sound simple, but the key to a successful deployment is to start with a detailed understanding of the end user’s desired outcomes. By engaging the Systems Integrator early (before MEP design progresses past schematic design) they become integral in the design and help ensure that the end user requirements are met throughout the entire design phase. There are important questions to ask, like “How do you want the building to look and feel for the occupants,” “What portions of occupant interactions with the building should be manual, simplified, or automatic,” and “How can the building anticipate occupant needs?”

Letting use cases from the end user drive system selection is the most important part of achieving the end goal. Once the project has progressed to the construction stage, the owner, engineer, and systems integrator should write sequences of operation for the integrations that detail how something that occurs in one system will drive changes in outcome across other systems.

Justin: The key tips for success for building owners are to pick the team early and to get everyone involved up front — including the Systems Integrator, as Tony said. It is important that all the teams executing the plan are a part of the design because this ensures that the end user gets what they’re seeking. The questions that Tony lists are in line with this idea because they keep the end user at top of mind.

Following these tips grants visibility to everyone involved, removes inconsistencies and overlaps in design packages, and eliminates last minute surprises. It’s also an affordable way to achieve design outcomes.

5.      What has been the best delivery method to achieve these kinds of successful implementations?

Tony: At this point in time, the delivery method is still new to most of the industry, but the best approach is to hire a design-build Master Systems Integrator (MSI). The MSI should be identified before the pen is put to the paper on any electrical circuit or mechanical ductwork. The MSI is engaged to understand the workflow between systems that will be implemented — they can then advise the MEP team on system requirements so they are accurately accounted for in the design. Furthermore, if the MSI operates as a contractor, they would have the capability to deliver a turnkey implementation of these systems.

Every project is different, and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to deploying the FM 2.0 approach. One thing, however, is imperative: all stakeholders of the project must be aligned on the delivery model and be fully invested in driving its success.

Justin: Stakeholder alignment is undoubtedly the key to success. Although there certainly is no one-size-fits-all delivery method within FM 2.0, I believe that the best delivery method for successful implementation is Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). Integrated Project Delivery is a method that bring all systems, practices, and people into the process at the same time to make use of the variety of talent on-hand for the best project results.

For example, a successful project we worked on with Penn Medicine used the IPD method. The teams were selected up front, prior to purchasing, which was necessary because the project came with challenges that required them to work together to solve. Their collaboration in the beginning ensured that they met their goals in the long term, and the project was a huge success.

Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Building Operation software works with the IPD method, bringing interoperability and openness. With FM 2.0, the thought process has evolved from ‘Oh we need to install a thermostat’ to that of a fully connected digital system. IPD goes hand-in-hand with this mindset.


Justin


Justin Lavoie, VP Channel Development at Schneider Electric https://www.linkedin.com/in/justin-lavoie-84893910/





tony


Tony Nolan, President of Triton Concepts https://www.linkedin.com/in/tony-nolan-0476345a/





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