The Role of the OT Master Systems Integrator
A good Master Systems Integrator (MSI) can do a lot of things. Primarily, MSIs help building owners...
It’s tempting to compare a fully operational building to a living organism. It’s a common metaphor, and it’s easy to see why. Both have complex structures with myriad components, all working in their own specialized way while simultaneously affecting each other. Communication between these components is vital to the well-being of the organism.
This is where the metaphor breaks down. In a living body, communication is natural and automatic. That’s not the case in buildings, where communication between systems must be deliberately implemented. In a commercial building, that’s the job of a master systems integrator (MSI).
An MSI plans, designs, and oversees all components of integrated building management systems. But what they have to offer goes far beyond a system. Today, these specialists are becoming more important to the success of increasingly complicated smart structures, helping to streamline projects and create connected, healthy, and efficient buildings.
Unlike siloed systems, an intelligent and integrated building management system gives you a full view of how your building functions as a whole and unlocks powerful facilities management capabilities. Unifying building systems, adding IoT technologies, and deploying analytics sets the stage for greater efficiency, better equipment performance, smarter maintenance, and streamlined operations. An MSI makes this possible.
Building owners often assume that everything will come together when multiple contractors are providing services. But in reality, a cohesive building with seamless communication between systems doesn’t appear organically; it requires strategic planning.
Very often, this planning doesn’t happen. The design engineer isn’t always concerned with the building working as a whole, and, without a roadmap, there may be a mismatch between design intent and owner intent. Without a clear vision, ongoing collaboration, and appropriate technologies, there may also be gaps between design and implementation. The result may be a building that falls short in terms of functionality and is a far cry from what was originally imagined.
An MSI has the expertise to prevent gaps, both practical and ideological. Ideally, this begins at the very start of a project, but an MSI can add value at virtually any stage. They understand the goals of building owners and ensure owners, designers, and contractors align. They make sure everything can talk to each other—whether through well-architected building systems or open communication between stakeholders.
The right partner understands all components of integrated building management systems, from products to process. This is what to look for in an MSI:
This seems like a no-brainer, but it is important that the MSI isn’t just a “tech person.” Buildings are incredibly complicated, and from blueprints to ribbon cutting, there are countless moving parts. You need an MSI who can see the whole picture and knows what a building needs to be successful. That means understanding your goals, your budget, and your long-term plan for the building and knowing that the end of construction is just the start of the work.
The gap between perception and reality is where most projects go over budget and most completed buildings fail to live up to expectations. Identifying potential problems before any system is installed can save you money in the short and long-term. A skilled MSI can preemptively detect both overt problems and the subtle ways a building will fail to be as efficient as possible.
Speaking the right language and communicating with all stakeholders is a key aspect of a successful MSI. That means being able to translate blueprints, offer practical advice, ensure different teams are on the same page, and create a unified job site.
Some MSIs are beholden to one system or one manufacturer. That doesn’t do you much good. A technology-agnostic MSI can read your plans and make recommendations based on your needs, your budget, and your goals. They will find something that works for you. In many cases, there are a lot of options available for systems that integrate using open protocols rather than proprietary languages, so it’s more likely data can be shared to a single-pane-of-glass.
This may sound obvious, but too often, it isn’t. A good MSI is continuously meeting with different manufacturers and testing technologies. The field is constantly evolving, and new products are always entering the market to make buildings work better. Keeping up with the latest advances allows an MSI to offer you the best solutions possible according to your needs.
An exceptional MSI understands where the industry is going and knows what components are necessary for systems that can last almost as long as the buildings that house them. They can meet your needs today and anticipate the needs of tomorrow.
The end of construction is just the start. The best MSI partner is invested in the life of the building and committed to long-term building relationships. They value the health and well-being of your buildings and offer continual support to improve your property as technology evolves. In short, it’s someone who has been there, and who will continue to be there.
Smart buildings get smart by the accretion of data over time, allowing for continuous improvement and adaptation. While smart technologies can improve buildings today, their true value is realized in the long-term.
The same is true of an MSI.
An MSI can make building projects better, easier, and more efficient. But, ultimately, they are a future-focused investment. By ensuring you have all the right components of an integrated building management system, an MSI will continue to guide day-to-day operations and shape occupant experiences long after the cranes have been dismantled and the last construction crews have left.
Clint Bradford writes about problems encountered and solutions delivered during our smart building project process.
Master Systems Integrators (MSI) help buildings run smarter, more efficiently and with complete...