How to Stay in Control of Your Controls

In this age, there is no justification for using a closed controls environment.
Most of our mechanical design and build work involves retrofitting existing facilities with customized systems that require nuanced energy and data management. As you would expect, sophisticated digital controls are an essential facet of every project. Unfortunately, the cost and ease with which controls can be added to an existing mechanical framework varies greatly—from being “a piece of cake” to you may as well “fuhgeddaboudit.”
It all comes down to whether your existing controls were built within a proprietary system that you’re locked into, or open customizable controls architecture that can be modified easily. We’ve seen numerous closed architecture systems jettisoned because even modest changes carried an exorbitant cost.
In this age, there is no justification for using a closed controls environment, unless you have a thing for pain, frustration, and paying more than necessary.
  • First and foremost, with open architecture, the flexibility to add, subtract, and combine entirely different plant systems and functionality is almost limitless. Imagine a robust Building Management System in which you can bring all plant systems into a common portal, with separate screens for each mechanical system – chillers, HVAC, compressors, cooling towers, boilers, hydraulics, vacuum, etc.
  • In an “open” environment, you’re also not locked into who can work on your controls system. Multiple qualified vendors can access and update open controls systems as needed. Of course, this is a huge advantage if your facility intends to expand or update mechanical systems in the future.  
  • Open systems allow you to incorporate the most modern energy-saving features, such as the sequencing of equipment and automated shutoffs to match production demand.
  • You may not even need an on-site visit to update your controls. Modifications to open systems can be made by on-staff IT personnel trained in the software.
Don’t get left holding the bag. In our experience, every customer who suffers with a proprietary controls system eventually comes around to wishing they had open architecture.