November 2011
Column
AutomatedBuildings.com

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Where Is the BAS Industry Going?

Further, without new manufacturers entering the market (which bring new, fresh ideas to BAS products) what will lead the industry to product improvements and innovations? 

Paul Ehrlich, Ira Goldschmidt & Angela Lewis
Building Intelligence Group

As published
Engineered Systems 
November Issue - Column

 


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There have been dramatic changes to the building controls market over the last 20 - 30 years.  The “energy crisis” of the 1970’s along with the development of the microprocessor, sent the “Big 5”-dominated pneumatics market into an “EMS” orbit that was joined by several dozen other manufacturers by the mid 1980’s.  Then, with the ever-increasing challenges of producing technologically advanced “BAS’s”, along with new millennium’s dominance of open protocols, the market attrition and consolidation has brought it back to earth. 

Today industry consolidation has resulted in a small group of dominant suppliers: Honeywell, Johnson, Schneider and Siemens, depending on how you add up the numbers and where you draw the line.  They are followed by other important suppliers including: ALC/Carrier, Delta, Distech, KMC, Reliable, and Trane (and our apologies to any of the others not listed). Note that this latter list does not include other smaller manufacturers; like Alerton, Novar, Trend and Tridium, which are Honeywell brands; and Andover, TAC I/A, and Vista, which are offered by Schneider. 

So what does this mix of manufacturers tell us about the future of the industry’s products and how they will be executing projects?  The following is a small sampling of product/distribution issues that seem to lack a clear future picture despite the apparent consolidation of the market:

The real question is how will the above set of conflicting trends lead to real (and sorely needed) improvements in the quality of BAS projects and products.   In our past columns we have provided a lot of suggestions about how this can happen, but the above trends tell us that the market may not be moving in a direction that could embrace or benefit from many of these.  Further, without new manufacturers entering the market (which bring new, fresh ideas to BAS products) what will lead the industry to product improvements and innovations?  Either way, shouldn’t we be seeing technical advances taken from the artificial intelligence playbook (like those we see in other industries)?  Couldn’t advances like these make BAS products easier to set up and more robust in keeping the controlled systems under optimum control?  We’re waiting….


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