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January 2019
Interview

AutomatedBuildings.com

Babel Buster Network Gateways: Big Features. Small Price.
Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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Kendall AndersonEMAIL INTERVIEWKen Sinclair and Kendall Anderson

Kendall Anderson, Marketing and PR Manager, FSG Energy

Kendall Anderson is the Marketing and PR Manager for FSG Energy, a division of Facility Solutions Group, Inc. FSG Energy provides energy management and building automation solutions for the commercial market. FSG’s IT-free, open controls solution, Clarity, allows for real-time monitoring and analysis of building systems, including lighting, HVAC, refrigeration, air quality, metering, IoT sensors and more.

Actively deployed in over 6,500 locations nationwide, FSG Clarity empowers customers to see, manage and act to save money, reducing energy, operational and maintenance spend across their portfolio. In her role, Kendall is responsible for curating content, cultivating business relationships, managing events,and educating on commercial building automation, energy management, IoT and smart building SaaS.


Critical time in the building automation and IoT space.

We are tracking specific pain points by industries and finding ways to implement IoT to help solve low-value, repetitive tasks for organizations.

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Sinclair:  What are the most common problems that you encounter in the building automation space?

Anderson:  There are four problems we come across most commonly in regards to building automation: system complexity, price point entry, portfolio integration, and remote monitoring.

When most businesses look for a building automation system, they are attracted to the titans of the industry that have applications across both the large commercial and industrial space. While this is great for intense applications, companies often times end up with systems that are overly complex and proprietary in nature, leaving them with a hefty system to learn and a limited product line. One analogy I like to use is that many companies buy the Porsche when they only needed the Honda. At FSG, it is our goal to help simplify these systems for clients and unlock the data to help make the information easily digestible.

The second dilemma we often come across is price point entry in the smaller commercial space. Most small to medium box retail, restaurants, convenience stores and more are priced out by many solutions, especially when needing to implement automation across hundreds if not thousands of locations. FSG has addressed this by developing solutions that are scaled to the size and application of each individual industry, making it much more affordable for organizations to get automation and ROI without breaking the bank.

FSG The third automation problem we see is portfolio integration. Many customers we come across have multiple buildings running with various, disparate automation systems. Often times, this means the facility manager is having to log in and out of each proprietary system to gather data, change setpoints/schedules, clear alarms, etc. However, there is no central dashboard where they can view their portfolio through a single pane of glass. This makes their experience with building automation fragmented, time-consuming and frustrating. Using FSG’s services as a Master Systems Integrator, we help to unlock the data from these systems and bridge disparate sensors, gateways, and systems across multiple sites to ensure the customer is getting a unified, easy-to-operate solution.

The final problem we often encounter is the inability for organizations to effectively manage and monitor their automation systems. At FSG, we understand staffing a skilled energy management team may not be high on a company’s agenda, and people often staffed in these roles typically do not have the time or experience to troubleshoot or act on the automation data.  FSG helps alleviate this pressure with our 24/7 remote monitoring team. By working hand-in-hand with our clients, we can ensure that building automation and energy management experts are actively monitoring and acting on any issues that may arise.

Sinclair:  What makes FSG Clarity different from other building automation and energy management systems?

Anderson:  As a MSI, FSG really touches all sides of the business. When we work with a client, we try to adopt and integrate any existing hardware to unlock the data points. In situations where there is no hardware on site, we use best-of-breed technology to to ensure our clients are set up on an open, future-ready platform.

After designing the hardware portion, we spin our customers up in the FSG Clarity enterprise app, allowing customers to command and control their building assets across their portfolio through schedules, setpoint adjustments and custom notifications.

We also have a 24/7, fully-staffed remote monitoring center with building automation experts who can help remotely troubleshoot and de-escalate issues on site, often times saving companies thousands of dollars in reduced truck rolls.

Sinclair:  What have been the biggest strides FSG has taken in the automation industry?

Anderson:  There are many strides FSG has taken over the past few years that really shape the path for where we believe the industry is headed. First, we have partnered with Lynxspring to help co-develop open solutions for clients across various industries and building sizes. Secondly, we continue to work to break down the proprietary gardens many clients are stuck with to help make them future-ready. Lastly, we are continuing to use lab and research various IoT solutions to help solve specific pain points for clients to provide optimal business intelligence that was previously not available.

Sinclair:  How do you see building automation evolving over the next five years?

Anderson:  I can’t stress this enough: OPEN, OPEN, OPEN! That is where the industry is headed. All systems and devices will be communicating using open protocols and APIs so any device/system can be tied together.

This is especially important as energy codes and restrictions continue to become more strict. Building owners and operators will have to add energy management and building automation systems in order to comply with these codes, and open systems will allow them to do this without having to rip and replace their initial investment.

Control Solutions, Inc In addition, IoT is going to continue to expand across all industries. As members helping the shape the industry, it is important the FSG and others to helping customers solve unique business challenges and help open their data to prepare them for the future.

Sinclair:  What can we look forward to seeing from FSG in the near future?

Anderson:  2019 is shaping up to be a critical time in the building automation and IoT space. At FSG, we are tracking specific pain points by industries and finding ways to implement IoT to help solve low-value, repetitive tasks for organizations. By being able to provide business intelligence to these rudimentary, operational tasks, we help companies ensure compliance, lower costs and eliminate human error...all through automation!

Perhaps what is most exciting is that we are still in the very early stages of IoT and the impact it will have globally. How we choose to harness IoT data for facilities will help mold IoT strategies of the future, and FSG Energy intends on exploring all avenues to provide customers with actionable data from all angles, whether it be energy, operational, marketing or other, now and well into the future.

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