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Reasons You Shouldn’t Upgrade Your Building Management System

To upgrade or not to upgrade: that is the question. Over the years, many businesses in the commercial real estate (CRE) space struggle with a disruptive decision—whether or not to upgrade their building management system (BMS).

Their BMS may be old and outdated, or isn’t providing the level of visibility their facilities teams need to improve building operations, tenant comfort, or drive critical energy efficiency operations in a repeatable, programmatic way. However, upgrading a BMS is a massive undertaking with serious implications on your buildings. More importantly, it’s not the only option.

Here are three factors to consider when pondering that BMS upgrade.

It’s Too Costly

Yes, there is the initial cost of the new system in and of itself – but the costs go far beyond that, and many businesses either fail to factor in these additional costs or highly underestimate them. Do not forget to look into - and realistically budget for - the total cost of migrating to an upgraded or fully replaced system.

BOMI International warns that businesses will need to account for the cost of maintaining service contracts on their older systems, i.e. equipment such as cabling and sensors that must be kept in place while the new system is installed—and which can take more than a year to complete.

That is no small amount of time, and can substantially increase the cost of the upgrade process, in addition to the obvious other inconveniences the disruption presents to current and prospective tenants. According to BOMI International, “the annual cost of a service contract for an old system may exceed the cost of implementing a newer system.” Before moving ahead with this kind of decision, it’s important to weigh all other options.

Time is Money

The time to value of an upgrade is another important factor. A BMS upgrade requires replacing significant amounts of hardware, connectors, sensors, and other ancillary equipment, and many businesses equate the time to value with the time to install the new system.

In addition to that consideration, it is just as important to keep in mind the time required to train building operators and engineers on using the new platform and interface. New technologies and practices come with a learning curve, and that can be time-consuming in and of itself.

Training can take up to several weeks, whether that be on-site, or even off-site. This can have a serious impact on your staff’s productivity.

Upgrading Your BMS Might Not Uncover Everything

Building automation systems are only as useful as the visibility and associated actions they provide into your operations, but in many cases these systems alone aren't enough to identify the root causes behind equipment malfunctions. Coupled with the growth of connected devices and equipment emerging as buildings embrace the Internet of Things, distilling these root causes and automating the required actions has become necessary to manage complex buildings in today’s connected environment.

For example, your commercial building could be running supply fans 24/7, regardless of the fact that all equipment was supposed to shut down during nights and weekends. The root cause being a simple communication error could be quickly determined by engineers, but your BMS would not be able to identify that issue. The longer it goes unnoticed, the higher your unnecessary costs could climb.

The point being, even after going through the long, expensive process of upgrading your BMS, you may still have blind spots preventing your facilities teams from making real progress in energy and operational efficiency.

In essence, a new BMS system is a timely and costly undertaking, with many facets that can be ignored when making the initial decision to upgrade, or not to upgrade. Before committing, be sure to take into consideration all these offshoots, to determine whether upgrading is the best decision for you, and if it is, that you aren’t surprised with costs and delays you had not planned for.


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