Global Building Automation Controls in the Age of Covid: An Industry facing significant challenges and opportunities in a changing landscape.March 2021

The global Building Automation Controls market was hit hard by the Covid 19 pandemic. BSRIA’s newly released market study in March 2021, covering 21 countries, confirmed that the value of BACS products sold fell considerably.

The pandemic has hit BACS much harder in some countries than others. While every market BSRIA studied showed a fall, in China, Germany and much of Northern Europe the fall was comparatively small. In contrast, the markets in India, Brazil and Mexico were especially badly affected and, in the case of India, profoundly so.

Many projects were cancelled, delayed, or impeded, with factors such as lockdowns and the general reduction in economic activity contributing to the process.

While there is still a lot of uncertainty about the future course of the pandemic, there is broad expectation that the global BACS market will take until 2023 to return to pre-pandemic levels. While countries like China and Germany look set to recover more quickly, a few countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates may not recover until after 2025.

Fig 1. The world’s major BACS markets are forecast to recover at different rates

The pandemic has also had a major disruptive effect on vertical markets. BSRIA Senior Manager Lone Hansen commented:  “Normally, when we report on areas like vertical markets, we are talking about long term incremental change. This year we have seen some quite dramatic upsets. As might be expected, sectors such as offices, hotels, retail, and transport have been hard hit by lockdowns, travel bans and social distancing.

On the other hand, many countries have been investing in upgrading health facilities. The huge growth in home-working, teleconferencing, and e-commerce has also had a major impact on demand for data centre capacity which is feeding through into BACS.  Some of these changes may be short term reactions, others are likely to have a lasting impact. The fall in the office market, while small to date, could be an early sign that the position of the office as we know it is under threat.”

Fig 2. Different vertical markets are being affected in very different ways

“Other long-term trends are continuing. Whilst the value of BACS software fell marginally, the fall in BACS products was much larger.  The relative growth in software is part of a movement towards buildings where the collection, processing and analysis of data is key to making the buildings operate more effectively.

Another indicator of this is that sales of sensors are forecast to increase faster than for other types of field devices. This could be a concrete signal of a growing emphasis on wellbeing in buildings.

There was already interest in wellbeing in buildings before the pandemic. Now it is shifting from being a ‘nice to have’ to something that is indispensable if you want to persuade people to return to work. Sensors have a key role to play, from measuring air quality to monitoring occupation levels.”

BSRIA’s latest research also confirms the continued growth in IP connectivity across a wide range of field devices. Building systems continue to become more converged. While cost and complexity continue to be barriers, this could be changing.

Prior to the pandemic, while people talked about wellbeing in buildings, the focus was on areas like energy efficiency which was well understood and could be measured – which made it easier to calculate return on investment.

Now priorities have changed as building owners need to find ways to entice people back. A safe healthy building is likely to be a smarter building because creating a safe indoor environment means getting the various building services to work in concert to provide people with fresh air, enforce social distancing and ensure a clean, secure space.  All of this means that we are in for a particularly exciting time when everyone involved in the Building Automation Industry will need to keep ahead of the new demands a changing world is placing on us.

BSRIA’s BACS market studies for 2021 are available for USA, China, Australia, France, Italy, UK and UAE, each including PowerPoint and Excel deliverables.  A global overview and summary are also available.

World Building Controls 2021/R2020

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