- Escrito por Jesus Arias
Spanish version of this article: Domoprac
Embrace opportunities... discard weaknesses.
It´s time for innovation.
Companies of home and building automation systems integration have accumulated large knowledge in many fields, all related to the development of building projects. And that knowledge is undervalued, partly because of the current market system, where the developers that invest money give priority to other matters, partly because integration companies continue to focus their efforts on providing a "stand alone" service, which is not that much attractive.
No doubt that the capacity acquired by these kind of companies can have positive impacts on the development of any project. Any company that have at least few years of experience, has struggled with HVAC systems, renewable energy, lighting... and has fought with interior designer teams, architects and other related consultants.
This puts these companies in a strong position in terms of knowledge and management concerns. The problem is how to sell that knowledge. There is a strong attachment to the technological aspect of the solution, forgetting the fundamental problem: how to make a project profitable and interesting.
Let the one without sin cast the first stone.
The truth is that there are more and more systems that become part of the broad spectrum of the building technologies, and those companies known as "integrators" have had to deal with most of them. But now we face new market paradigms. Establishing a similarity with fishing, regular fishing grounds (Europe) are exhausted, and it's time to look for new markets.
The big problem and most importan one when going overseas, is facing a very low level (in terms of knowledge) ot the sub-contractors, and this is where the integrator becomes a general consultant, which is able to guide all of them in order to success and lead the project.
An integrator is able to put on the table all systems, all, and link all of them in the smartest way possible to make the most of the available resources.
Diagram: PMO (Project Management Office)
- Lighting. Something that may seem simple, it is not. Lighting is a crucial point in saving energy. Plus, a good design and control is quickly appreciated. And I mean not only certain intelligent controls (occupancy sensors, outdoor lighting with astronomical clock, etc), but a correct design of LED lighting, good use of circuits regulated as DALI system integration, etc.
- HVAC. Cornerstone of energy saving, the integrator is expert in all types of systems, such as conventional air conditioning, VRV or VRF, under floor heating, forced ventilation, recovery, humidification, fan coil.
- Audio / Video. Audio and video systems become part of the every day installations. What to do and what not to do is essential for the scope definition.
- Security. Multifunctional Sensors (presence, lighting, alarms) or security alerts, are examples of that security is not a "stand alone" system, and it allows many forms of integration with other systems.
- BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaics). Buildings are neither longer merely passive consumers, nor its generating function is limited to the conventional systems (power or energy). New concepts appear. Smart materials that become part of the construction materials and that, in addition, generate electricity. This energy must be managed and used wisely.
- Interior design. Unwittingly, these systems have taken over the interior spaces, and interacts with the more and more common interior design studios. This studios care little or nothing about efficiency (detection systems, probes ...) or quality systems (audio, video, ventilation ...). It is important to find a point of understanding.
- Communications. We live in the age of telecommunications, not just people exchange information, but also intelligent systems do. Systems present in buildings and homes require the right way of communicate properly.
- Certifications. LEED certifications and alike are pushing and leading new ways of implementing efficient systems. They are not just a trend, but a reality that because of different reasons (such companies strategies, nature awareness...) become the norm. These kind of standards propose general solutions. A good PMO in this field can propose specific solutions for the problems addressed.
- Renewable Energies. Cornerstone of future development of our society. A power without control is useless. You have to measure and manage it, to prevent efforts vanish in intermediate processes. It does not make sense to invest in power generation if the lighting and air conditioning system, for example, are not designed according to energy saving principles.
That integrators can provide expertise in all these areas, and simultaneously provide consistency between them, is beyond doubt. So why not use it as a business strategy?
Project Management Office (PMO).
Project Management Office (PMO).
If an integrator company is able to manage all these concepts, why not package them and sell them as a service? There are many construction companies with key customers, which lack these services. The biggest advantage of these services lies in saving money during project implementation, as well as saving money over the life of the product resulting from the project.
An integrator company, with certain modifications and adaptations, is in a unique position to offer a PMO service.
So why not?
And to offer a service with guarantees, there are certain tools that increase the confidence of potential customers. One of them is the international certification of project management, PMP (Project Management Professional), issued by the PMI (Project Management Institute), which follows the PMBOK standard.
This standard establishes the basis for project management to fulfill the sacred trident of any project:
It is specially important the Scope, which is usually the "troublemaker" in this kind of projects. Often, the expectations are not fulfilled due to a not well defined scope. In most cases, the problem lies in the lack of cohesion between the systems, and the problem that appear when installing them on site. The integrator company has abilities to sort all these problems out and fulfill the scope.
The integrators who have accumulated large knowledge in these aspects should evolve into companies that offer PMO services, trying to take advantage of the position that they have held until now. The market is not over, the market evolves, and therefore roles should evolve too.
Clearly we are facing difficult times, and the solution is to adapt services and find new markets. Regret is useless, evolution is the solution.
Jesús Arias García