The S4 Group has attended or participated in every annual AHR expo over the 11 years that we’ve been in business. Like many companies in the building automation industry, we have high expectations for AHR: to view the latest products, discover the most current industry trends, and form new business alliances. This year’s expo in Dallas did not disappoint.
The conference provided many opportunities to gather information about industry trends, examine market trends, and reaffirm that the objectives of The S4 Group are headed in the same direction as those of the industry. Steve Jones, Managing Partner of The S4 Group, enjoyed meeting new companies and catching up with old friends at the event. During the time he spent walking the showcase floor, several business themes surfaced. Companies continue to support the green movement. Saving energy is an important requirement for today’s building systems and technology. Retrofit and renovation strategies, along with the technology to integrate and make systems interoperable, are all critical. ASHRAE predicts that this will be the largest part of the future building automation market. Products need to be reliable and help to decrease the upfront costs of renovation. Sending data to the cloud, and the appearance of cloud-based services, was also a hot topic.
In addition enjoying the show as attendees, S4 was invited to present a workshop at the show. Steve’s presentation, entitled “Cost Effective Legacy System Migration,” outlined a process and technology that migrates Johnson Controls Metasys® systems into BACnet. In building retrofit projects, this technology can reduce the upfront cost by up to 90%. The S4 Open: BACnet-N2 router allows any HMI to co-exist with the current legacy system until the building owner is ready to replace systems.
Needless to say the presentation was in tune with current market analysis and was well received.
It is always good to get a fresh perspective existing challenges and opportunities. Gathering data from building automation systems and sending it to the cloud provides an opportunity for the S4 Open: BACnet-N2 router to act as an on-premises agent that collects and sends data. We spoke with several companies about the need for a standard way of transmitting data to the cloud. Those discussions confirmed that there is a lot of work to do in this area and will be the subject of future S4 research.