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IBMS is the future

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Messung Group, established in 1981, partnered with Mitsubishi Electric in 1995 for providing industrial automation solutions to the Indian market. In 2012, the company sold the factory automation business to Mitsubishi Electric and is now entering into building automation business by partnering with Distech Controls, Canada. Farook Merchant, Chairman & Managing Director, Messung Group spoke to Buildotech on Company’s approach and future plans.

Reasons for entering the building automation business

Messung Systems pioneered the introduction of first Programmable Logic Controller in India and focused on offering simple, efficient and cost effective PLC products and solutions. With the background and vast experience in industrial automation, stepping into a related segment was the rational choice. Also we had been the distributors for Mitsubishi for so many years, so already have the network of system integrators which we plan to develop for the building automation segment.

What are the terms of partnership with Distech Control?

Distech Controls is an innovation leader in energy management solutions providing unique building management technologies and services that optimize energy efficiency. Messung Systems Pvt. Ltd. (Messung) will act as the Master Distributor for the Indian market and through this partnership will offer Distech Controls’ complete range of products and solutions. The focus will be on providing a comprehensive IBMS solutions, customized for the Indian market.

Having studied the market before entering building automation business, what according to you is the current scenario?

Presently, there are very few professional players in Indian building automation segment, like Honeywell, Schneider and Siemens. For them also, IBMS is one of the business verticals among various other verticals like HVAC, Security, Fire Safety etc. The unorganized sector consists of small companies who provide standalone products and solutions, that are cost-effective but often not reliable and do not offer an integrated platform for combining entire building services.

There is a general lack of awareness among developers and building owners about IBMS systems. The present automation companies too are not focused on educating the clients. Therefore, the general trend is to buy standalone systems such as for fire safety, access control, lighting etc. Building owners are more concerned about the cost of the technology and lack the understanding of how IBMS can save costs during the lifecycle of the building, eventually helping raise their business bottom-line. IT and hospitality sector is the largest adopter of IBMS technology and malls and hospitals are least aware of the importance of IBMS.

What would Messung approach and business plan be?

As of now, we plan to set up the entire supporting infrastructure including an engineering centre in Pune to give best possible backend support to the system integrators. Distech products are more oriented towards western market needs, Messung would be developing India specific solutions for the customers and would be fully equipped to provide, technical and maintenance support to the buyers. The full-fledged launch of the entire portfolio of Distech products will be in April next year and the company will take up one or two projects to begin with, that would be the example for potential clients.

IBMS consists of air-conditioning control, MEP, façade shading control, security, fire safety and access control among other building systems. Messung will provide the platform to integrate all the services so it becomes easier for the building managers to monitor the utilities and take preventive measures. So, we are reaching out to the facility managers, consultants and developers to inform them of our solutions. Messung headquarter is in Pune. Gradually, the offices will be set up in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Ahmedabad with deeper network of system integrators for technical support in tier II cities as well.

How do you perceive the competitions from other major players in the segment?

The global companies present in India have actually developed the market, but are catering to a very small portion of the IBMS market segment. IBMS is just one of their operating verticals among others like fire safety, energy management, security etc. and is not the core business. Messung catering to only IBMS business, will initially explore the existing buildings that need latest IBMS solutions and progressively take up new or under construction projects. While, many of the companies provide proprietary platform, our strong point will be the open platform that makes integration of third party systems possible and maintenance by another agency, if need be easier.

The major challenge faced by the consumers in India is that many a time the systems bought from various vendors do not talk to each other, the hardware is not scalable or, third party systems cannot be integrated in the existing IBMS. Distech system is based on Niagara framework which is an open platform and supports direct communication with other systems, including BACnet, /KNX, LONwork, etc. Thus, if client wants, he can easily add fire safety or lighting or any other product from another company on to the Distech system. The existing products too can be integrated into the Distech IBMS. Also, the systems hardware would not need to be upgraded for at least 10 years, thereby proving to be cost effective.

The future potential

Indian consumer wants value for money and it is for the vendors to educate the building owners and managers how IBMS through optimized efficiency can save costs and provide ROI within a short duration. Messung already has a strong goodwill in the market due to its association with Misubishi Electric, building on that we plan to educate the consumer, offer them best possible after sale service and create a point of differentiation from other companies.

There is a huge market potential for IBMS in India as not even half of the existing buildings are equipped with relevant building management systems. Those which do have, are facing the challenge of proper functioning and maintenance of systems. With infrastructure growth, MNCs setting up businesses here and government emphasis on smart construction and sustainable development, the need for IBMS is evident and is the future of building industry in India.

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