The effects of economic conditions are open to a lot of uncertainty, especially given the questions about the future of the European Union and the possibility of a global “trade war” involving the world’s major economies.
However, there are some clear technology developments that are driving change.
Software and analytics are becoming increasingly important and strategic. In three of the four markets, BACS software is growing faster in value than the BACS market as a whole. In Germany and Spain, the growth is twice as fast. Since software is increasingly bundled with the wider offering the actual impact may be even greater.
While there is a move to the Cloud and more specifically to Software as a Service (SaaS), the great majority of software sold remains server based, ranging from 75% in Spain to more than 90% in Germany, the latter figure reflecting the cautious nature of much of the German market.
Controllers and, especially, DDC controllers are increasingly freely programmable, ranging from over 70% in Germany to virtually 100% in Spain, with most of the rest being at least configurable. This enables controllers to be used for a wider range of applications and scenarios.
The advance of the Internet of Things is reflected in the fact that increasingly field devices are at least capable of being easily connected to the internet. This is especially true of larger and more complex devices. For example, in all four markets, BSRIA found that between 60% and 70% of Air Conditioning Units had an inbuilt capability of being connected to the internet. However, this capability was currently being used only in a minority of cases where there was a direct benefit.
One key measure of the move towards “smarter” buildings is the extent to which HVAC, which has traditionally been the core of BACS, is converged with other key building systems, allowing common and coordinated control. For example, if one wants to maximise energy efficiency while maintaining a comfortable working environment it makes sense to manage HVAC, lighting and blinds via a common system.
BSRIA’s research showed that while convergence is increasing, most new buildings with BACS are still purely focused on HVAC in Belgium and Germany. While the Netherlands and Spain showed more convergence, in all countries, BACS projects involving refurbishment or retrofit were less likely to be converged.
In all the markets the BACS sales are embracing both other products and labour. The labour component typically represents about half the market value, in some cases more, and many of the larger BACS suppliers are focusing increasingly on the service element of their delivery.
Once labour and other products are factored in, the industry is worth several billion US Dollars across Europe as a whole, and one which will be increasingly central to the development of both artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.