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Sat 1 Nov 2008 04:00 AM

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Follow the three Ps to success

Mike Atkinson, managing director of Telematics, offers advice on how to successfully develop and deploy intelligent building systems integration for efficient facility design.

Intelligent building systems (IBS) are in vogue across the vibrant Middle Eastern construction and property sectors.

More developers, contractors and facility owners are eyeing the deployment of "smart" automated functions into their property portfolios, driven by government mandates requiring sustainable methods of development and a highly competitive and demanding regional market seeking best global practices and standards.

While initially perceived as expensive and frivolous add-ons, IBS have since become integral components of efficient facility design.

IBS provides the much-needed edge for property owners and developers to stand out above the rest.

Such systems are now recognised for their vital role in energy efficiency, life safety and security, advanced telecommunications, and workplace automation.

Integration

Network enabling electronic devices throughout a building allows the integration of subsystems, such as air-conditioning, lighting elevators and security, into a single and efficient building management network.

However, although many people now understand the importance of IBS in facility management, those in charge of their evaluation and implementation sometimes fail to move from concept to actual deployment.

Many factors may conspire in this inability to follow through, from financial concerns to design and client constraints.

It is thus essential that IBS be ingrained from as early as the drawing board stage, so that future challenges can be anticipated and viable solutions fleshed out.

Based on our experiences in IBS implementation, I would like to offer what I refer to as the three Ps for successful systems deployment: Prepare, Profile and Persevere.

Prepare:A carefully-specified IBS starts with a thorough understanding of the nature of the building and what it will be used for, as the strategy and degree of integration varies considerably depending on facility type.

The owner should then be fully briefed as early as possible on the planned IBS so that the proper parameters and automation targets are set.

It is worth noting that expense will be a major consideration, so the IBS developer should provide a realistic cost estimate and regularly update the owner on possible or necessary changes.

Finally, the IBS projects should be properly sequenced and coordinated to run parallel to the overall property development schedule. Preferably it should be under the contractual responsibility of a specialist ELV system integrator.

Profile:Three key elements need to be profiled in every IBS project: the designers, the facility custodians and the individual facility systems.

Specialist

The designer team should include the architects, mechanical and electrical engineers, as well as the construction managers. It may be advisable to employ a specialist consultant to co-ordinate the design as all parties involved in the design and installation of a building's components, need to cooperate so that they can adjust their tasks to accommodate the IBS installation.

Facility custodians comprise the persons involved in daily facility management, life safety and information technology.

These entities are in charge of the day-to-day use of the systems that will eventually be integrated under the IBS umbrella, and have vital knowledge of what needs to be done to ensure operational efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Finally, a matrix of all the subsystems that need to be integrated along with their specific functions, essential technical dimensions and requirements will have to be constructed.

This subsystems profile will be needed to determine if they need to be integrated on a physical, logical or functional level, and will also reveal common elements that can lead to cost savings or enhance efficiency.

Inspection

Persevere:Many influences may come into play that can compromise the installation and specification of the IBS, from time constraints to changing customer requirements. It is important that developers persevere and insist that the original IBS plan be followed as closely as possible.

This can be ensured through constant inspection and supervision throughout the entire installation and testing phases, and continuous coordination with the owner, developers and contractors.

In today's rapidly evolving and aggressive Middle East real estate development markets, IBS provides the much-needed edge for property owners and developers to stand out above the rest.

Following these three Ps will minimise complications, fast-track installation, and ensure end-user and owner satisfaction. Welcome to the integration revolution.

If you would like to write for Construction Week in this column, please email rob.wagner@itp.com

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