Communication is key! Whether it be in our personal or professional lives, it’s the secret recipe to success. In the world of building automation, it is no different! Controls protocols are standardized forms of communication that allows for a buildings equipment to communicate. While there many types of protocols, lets investigate why it is important to have open versus closed protocols; the information below will help you make more informed, cost effective decisions in the future!

Diving right into the term open protocol and what it means; open protocol is a non-proprietary form of communication allowing you to hire any experienced local company to work on your buildings automation system (BAS). This is opposed to closed or proprietary building automation systems that require work to be done by the manufactures technicians. Proprietary systems are often more costly to service because the manufacturer can untimely choose what to charge, they know you have no other choice! In defense of these manufacturers, they can “maintain” a known level of quality when it comes to servicing their products. Therefore, it is important that you qualify and vet your contractor before you allow them to work on your open protocol system.

The second aspect to reveal is availability of service. Open protocol systems can be serviced by any experienced shop, you should have multiple shops to choose from. This span of options means that if you have an emergency and your first request for service goes un-answered, you can go to the next shop for service. If you have a closed system you could be at the mercy of the manufacturers schedule as that is your only option.

While in general conversation you can discuss building management systems simply, as open or closed, though there is a deeper level of complexity that it is worth noting. Some systems that are designed to be closed, like Honeywell and Siemens; there are some that are designed to be open, like JCI F/X, Tridium. However, a contractor can install a different “front end” (the BMS interface) that modifies the system so that it can become open or closed. It is always worth asking if the proposed front end alters the base systems originally designed accessibility.

In summary, if you have the option to upgrade you building management system and have several reputable BMS contracts in your area, focus on an open protocol system and don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you are not in the position of upgrading to an open protocol system, do not fret. Your closed or proprietary system should have the factory technicians bringing elevated knowledge of their product, ensuring effective factory direct solutions.

If you have any question about this relatively complex topic, you can reach out to TC Controls directly. TC Controls offers Johnson Controls with an open front end via Niagara.