Digging Deep: Integrated Advanced Controls

Digging Deep: Integrated Advanced Controls

In the last post of our series, Digging Deep, we reviewed the Smarter Building Technologies Alliance factory, Direct Discount Lighting, reviewing the who, what, and how of DDL. It’s now time to shift focus and take a deeper look into how the Smarter Building Technologies Alliance supercharges our LED luminaire offering through SBT factory, Integrated Advanced Controls.


Who is Integrated Advanced Controls?

Smarter Building Technologies Alliance factory, Integrated Advanced Controls, is the second puzzle piece of SBT’s innovative LED lighting and advanced controls solutions. The core role that Integrated Advanced Controls plays within SBT and the market is that of connector and problem solver.

Connector and problem solver, you say? That sounds a bit gimmicky, no? Well, perhaps at the onset maybe it does sound a bit hokey, but let’s dig in to explore why we feel the core identity of IAC revolves around problem-solving and being a facilitator between the industry’s leading LED fixture and advanced controls system manufacturers.

Fixture-embedding Advanced Controls Systems into LED Luminaires

When it comes to playing the role of facilitator and connector, Integrated Advanced Controls plays an innovative role in bringing together the industry’s best-of-breed LED luminaire manufacturers and cutting-edge advanced networked controls manufacturers to solve an industry-wide challenge: How do you cost-effectively, easily, and successfully fixture-embed advanced networked controls systems into any fixture pre-construction?

The answer: Integrated Advanced Controls.

Let’s review this innovative relationship from the perspective of a fixture manufacturer. Let’s say we’re a fixture manufacturer that’s looking to expand their portfolio by adding an advanced network controls solution to their offering, using one of the industry’s leading solutions. Before jumping headfirst into offering such an option to customers, there are some key questions one must ask and answer. These include:

  1. How does a fixture manufacturer offer controls through their agent/distribution channel who likely already has a controls line?
  2. How can a fixture manufacturer offer controls to the market without the liability of “owning” a sensitive software system indefinitely?
  3. Who will design the systems/provide system and technical support?
  4. How does everyone get paid? The Agents, the Manufacturers, etc.?

One may initially think the answers to these questions are pretty straightforward….I mean, as a fixture manufacturer you already have the manufacturing infrastructure so simply embedding controls into your fixture line should be easy, right? Well, sort of. Let me explain.

Embedding advanced controls into a fixture is only one step on providing an advanced networked controls solution – and to be honest it’s probably the most straightforward. Where the train starts to jump off the tracks is when you start to account for all the additional steps, tasks, and support that is required in an advanced networked controls solution. These items include:

    1. Control System Designs: Typically the control system design process is overlooked as a step that’s required when embedding controls into fixtures, but at the end of the day if you are responsible for getting the controls into the fixtures your buyers are undoubtedly going to have questions about system designs and will require guidance…does your fixture manufacturing team have the bandwidth or knowledge base to perform this function?
    2. Networked System Provisioning & Commissioning: Along with the design of an advanced networked controls system, the second most overlooked task – and yet one of the most critical steps in a deployment of an advanced networked controls solutions – is the provisioning and commissioning of the system. Now you may be thinking, why would I, a fixture manufacturer, need to be concerned with the provisioning and commissioning of the system? Well, like it or not, if as a fixture manufacturer you decide to take on the task of integrating an advanced networked control system into your fixtures, thereby acting as an “agent” of the control system (and I use the term agent loosely here), there is simply no escaping the “responsibility” of knowing how the system is provisioned, commissioned, and field configured. Installing contractors will undoubtedly have questions when they attempt to take on the job of commissioning, will first reach out to the folks they got the fixture from (i.e. you, Mr. Manufacturer, or agent/distributor), who will then need to reach out to the controls manufacturer, who will then proceed to refer back to the last person to “touch” the controls, and the endless cycle of finger-pointing and endless back and forth starts.To avoid this, the same question must be asked, does your manufacturing team have the bandwidth and knowledge base to provide the system provisioning and commissioning support required by the system?

 

    1. Luminaire Customizations: Taking on the task fixture-embedding a range of advanced networked controls solutions also brings about the need to make periodic luminaire customizations to ensure the proper embedding of controls devices. While this task may also seem straightforward, since we’re already dealing with a manufacturing line, but the question remains: does your manufacturing team have the capacity or ability to retool your manufacturing line to account for periodic luminaire customizations, such as housing extensions, brackets, belly pan expansion, etc.?

 

    1. Controls System Warranty: At the onset, sure, this additional requirement seems easy enough as the advanced networked controls system will be covered by the manufacturer of said controls system. Where the challenge comes in (from the fixture manufacturer perspective) is who, in fact, is going to deal with the logistics of warranty claims, processing, and material returns and replacements?

 

  1. Technical Support: When it comes to technical support, we’re now talking an entirely new ballgame. Could your manufacturing team build in the bandwidth and knowledge base to field support when it comes to general system provisioning and commissioning? Sure, it’s possible, but how likely? Now, can the same team handle Level II or Level III technical support questions from the field around the control system networks, gateways, IP addresses and such? Likely not. And the costs associated with building this type of resource that covers multiple advanced networked controls technologies is monumental.

And of course, it goes without saying that each of the above tasks come with a complete subset of additional challenges that will throw additional wrenches into the gearbox. Bottom line: simply deciding to fixture-embed an advanced networked controls system into an existing line of luminaires is fraught with far more challenges than one typically thinks.

And What If You’re Advanced Networked Controls Manufacturer?

So, what if you’re an advanced networked controls manufacturer? What role does Integrated Advanced Controls play in your world?

Let’s explore.

When it comes down to it the life of an advanced networked controls manufacturer isn’t that different from a fixture manufacturer. Both share the same challenges when it comes to control system design, system provisioning, commissioning, and technical support – albeit as a controls manufacturer you do, in fact, have a solid foundation and knowledge base to tackle most of these challenges.

Where the real challenge comes in for an advanced networked controls manufacturer is how to get more of their control system devices into more lines of LED luminaires, thereby expanding your market reach and adoption rate. Why is it so difficult? Well, there are mainly two things at play here:

  1. LED fixture manufacturers are typically focused on what they’re good at; manufacturing fixtures.
  2. As we outlined above, taking on the task of fixture-embedding a “third-party” advanced networked controls solution into a portfolio of LED luminaires isn’t as straightforward as one would think; thus, making many fixture manufacturers hesitant to take on the task.

The first step in addressing these two challenges from an advanced controls manufacturer perspective is to solve the former – make the process of fixture-embedding and supporting advanced networked controls solutions simpler for fixture manufacturers.

Enter: Integrated Advanced Controls.

Going Beyond Fixture-Embedded Controls

As we outlined above, the process of embedding advanced networked control system devices into LED luminaires is far more complex than simply embedding a device into a fixture – that’s only the first step of a longer process.

Going beyond the initial step of fixture-embedding advanced control devices let’s take a deeper look at how, and why, Integrated Advanced Controls plays such a unique role in alleviating the challenges associated with offering fixtured-embedded controls.

  1. Full Integration Services: IAC provides comprehensive assembly and manufacturing resources to fixture-embed, pre-provision and pre-commission advanced networked control systems directly into LED luminaires.

 

  1. Comprehensive Sales Support: IAC supports OEM channel partners through control system design, sales, and project logistics to ensure the full and successful integration and deployment of an advanced networked controls solution.

Backed by over twenty years of controls and fixture manufacturing experience, Integrated Advanced Controls provides the industry’s only vehicle for any advanced networked controls manufacturer or LED fixture manufacturer to fixture-embed advanced controls devices directly into LED luminaires seamlessly.

Integrated Advanced Control’s full end-to-end services cover the gamut of advanced controls integration requirements. Below is a quick snapshot of varying roles IAC plays in delivering a fixture-embedded advanced networked controls solution:

Supercharging SBT’s Innovative Lighting and Controls Offering

Throughout this post we’ve mainly discussed IAC’s overall marketplace role in providing a solution for manufacturers of both advanced networked controls and LED luminaire solutions. As part of the SBT Alliance family, Integrated Advanced Controls also plays an incredibly important role in supercharging Direct Discount Lighting’s line of LED luminaires as well.

You see, as we outlined in our post covering the Smarter Building Technologies Alliance, each of SBT’s factories – Direct Discount Lighting, Integrated Advanced Controls, and Glued Solutions – are built upon each other’s products and services to offer the market a truly innovative, full-suite product and service offering.

Through the many industry partner relationships of Integrated Advanced Controls, Direct Discount Lighting’s entire offering of A-LINE™ and B-LINE™ LED luminaires are supercharged with factory-embedded advanced networked controls. And integrating the industry’s most technologically advanced solutions directly through IAC’s factory also provides a litany of opportunities that extend beyond simply embedding a controls device, including:

  1. Quality Control Testing
  2. System Pre-Provisioning
  3. Full Factory Provisioning & Commissioning

Through each of these exclusive IAC services the SBT Alliance, it’s internal factories, and general client base can now offer a fully embedded advanced networked controls solution that’s fully provisioned and commissioned prior to even arriving on a job site for installation.

Building Blocks of Innovative Lighting and Controls Solutions

Having now explored Integrated Advanced Controls in far more depth it is my hope that you now have a much better understanding of the innovative role that Integrated Advanced Controls plays within the market and within the SBT Alliance family.

Each SBT factory plays a critical role in building our innovative lighting and controls solutions, and Integrated Advanced Controls is no exception. As we continue our Digging Deep series, we will explore IAC’s comprehensive manufacturing capabilities in more depth over time.

Up next in our series is SBT Alliance factory, Glued Solutions.

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