"Bird's Nest on the Ground"
Bird's nest on the ground: a term so cliche, but prevalent among large contractors and factory branch offices. What does it mean?
When a controls contractor wins a contract for a large system, the contractor hopes to create a long-term source of profitable revenue through a dependency spawned by proprietary features of the new building control system.
A Familiar Story
One New Jersey client, a pharmaceutical company, has grown over the years. When first constructed, a factory branch office installed a highly proprietary and fully integrated system that monitored and controlled HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) equipment, life safety systems (fire alarm), asset protection (security alarms) and patrol tour (roving watchmen).
As it goes with technology, the contractor introduced newer products and methods over subsequent years, as the owner remodeled and added buildings. Along the way, a stand-alone fire alarm system replaced the older equipment. Newer technologies made obsolete the patrol tour subsystem. After some years the HVAC subsystems greatly expanded, but advanced methods and newer equipment made obsolete those ancillary services.
Year by year, the controls contractor raised the annual cost of the service agreement, never accounting for the abandoned non-HVAC equipment. As a consultant for the owner, we researched the service agreement and evaluated its pricing structure. A subsequent report forced the contractor to substantially reduce the annual cost of the service agreement.
A Better Way
What if you could cut the annual cost of maintenance, would you do it? How so?
Bear with this second anecdote. A county courthouse in Texas became equipped with a proprietary building automation system, a DDC system (direct digital control). Aside from the fact that proprietary system was poorly designed, it was also susceptible to frequent damage by power line surges and spikes -- most often when thunderstorms passed through the area.
The building maintenance staff wearied of costly service calls and sought help. We came to the rescue with an energy-saving performance contract.
In this case, since the equipment was misapplied, it was necessary to replace it. We evaluated 120-volt power supplies and designed appropriate electrical surge protection.
Over the years (ten, as of Sept. 2010), we have been called upon for only a very few service calls, none prohibitively costly. Beforehand, a $3,000 (minimum) service call followed every thunderstorm that danced through town.
Financial payback was two-fold: a short payback due to energy conserved and a greater payback due to practically no emergency service calls -- the latter, alone, paid for the retrofit.
Occasionally, only system replacement yields the owner a trouble-free, reliable, accurate building automation system.
Most of the time, we can re-deploy existing assets, enhance with a little advance technology and holistically commission the system end to end and in concert with associated mechanical equipment and systems.
Are any of the above scenarios familiar to you? Perhaps you feel trapped with your building automation system. Don't give up, we can probably help and do so economically. What do you have? Honeywell? Johnson Controls? TAC/Schneider? Barber Colman? Trane? American Auto-Matrix? Delta Controls? Reliable Controls?
If we can't help, we don't charge. Call us today to make an appointment.
Call (972) 771-3514 or send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org