Cutting project costs

Due to constant cost pressures and close project scrutiny, many new building and building retrofit schemes are being forced to seek out innovative ways of meeting budget without detriment to completion schedules.

One of the most targeted methods is to look at the reduction of commissioning times for key technologies such as building management systems (BMS). System integrators or control specialists who are contracted to supply the BMS use a considerable part of the project time to engineer and commission the control system. Typically, the BMS software development is carried out off-site, with engineers re-creating most of the required applications every time. In addition, most systems cannot be fully tested in simulation mode before it reaches site, and problems cannot be anticipated ahead of time. However, genuine market differentiation comes with systems that simplify the processes of programming, engineering, installation and commissioning. To do this, systems such as those developed by Priva, offer a Windows-based engineering environment and application engine which enable the control specialists to complete these processes in significantly less time than more conventional systems.

Despite many building projects falling behind schedule, a common theme is that completion/opening dates rarely move. With BMS commissioning typically being one of the last operations, it is this that frequently gets squeezed. With this in mind, innovative BMS software that eases and shortens the commissioning period is proving more valuable than ever.

One of the key factors in achieving shorter project implementations is for controls companies to be more efficient in programming. This enables them and their BMS customers to be more competitive. Programming is a skilled operation and hence, if software tools can help make it more efficient it is possible for a set number of engineers to deliver more projects, achieve higher company turnover and increase profitability. Priva has developed software engineering tools to programme its controllers in far fewer hours in comparison with conventional BMS engineering environments. The system uses a graphic format that is both powerful and flexible, and can be configured to suit innovative new applications.

Another advantage of Priva systems is their readiness to be commissioned off-site. Once a BMS is programmed and the project is nearing completion, on-site commissioning is often conducted under extreme pressure. Using a Priva BMS, it is possible to simulate the end result – operating the BMS without the need for controllers at the engineer’s desk. This allows for functional tests to be carried out when working with the associated panel manufacturer and gives some assurance to the commissioning engineer when going to site that what has been supplied will operate correctly. Doing as much off-site work as possible will mean fewer resources are needed to complete the project. This becomes particularly important when interfacing to third party equipment, especially when data communications are involved.

With the ever increasing use of integration, the need to connect to different third party systems in a consistent and easy method is essential to stay competitive. The open architecture of Priva allows for quick and simple integration with third party devices with different protocols such as electricity meters or inverter drives deployed on pumps and fans.

The important aim of commissioning is to set up the building so it can be operated and maintained throughout its lifetime. This includes the provision and transfer of design and commissioning information, and the inclusion of appropriate data in the controls head end/graphics. When using the integrated software approach most of these elements are taken care of during the engineering process giving all those concerned a degree of satisfaction and confidence that they will be getting a fully commissioned building in optimum time.

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