Programmable controllers offer diversity for building automation integrators

Building automation equipment market has been slow going; however, IHS expects this to change as the market moves toward fully programmable controllers in the shorter term.


The building automation (BA) equipment market has experienced few changes to standard equipment over the past ten years. Although there have been technology improvements,  the BA equipment market has been slow going; however, IHS expects this to change as the market moves toward fully programmable controllers in the shorter term, according to a new report from IHS.

Globally, fully programmable controllers accounted for 41% of controller unit sales in 2013 and this percentage is forecast to grow to 43.9% in 2018.

A wide range of factors are impacting this growth opportunity. IHS expects that differentiation remains an issue for the BA market as a whole, where about 80% of a building automation system will be installed the same, regardless of the integrator. As a result, only about 20% of each BA project allows for differentiation of products and services. Here, integrators can create unique applications within fully programmable controllers which can save the end-user money over the lifetime of the system. IHS believes this is the best opportunity for integrators to show end-users how their applications differ from the competition.

Furthermore, building automation systems are becoming more innovative, allowing systems to incorporate more advanced sensors than in the past. These advanced sensors are providing integrators with more information compared with cheaper configurable and fixed systems, resulting in more robust and effective applications.

So what exactly does this mean for the building automation equipment market and integrators? It means the market is seeing a shift toward more expensive systems with a programmable controller at the core. Although the programmable controller is more expensive than more traditional controllers, many end-users are seeing the benefits and the ROI has justified the additional cost. Lastly, in addition to the programmable controller, integrators and manufactures who are able to improve their application libraries will find it easier to win lucrative projects.

Omar Talpur leads IHS Technology’s Building Technologies research. He has worked on a number of studies covering a wide range of industries at IHS. This article originally appeared on Edited by Brittany Merchut, Project Manager, CFE Media, bmerchut(at)

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