The host for the day was Russell Beattie, chief executive of the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA), the UK body which represents the interests of over 400 manufacturers, suppliers, installers and contractors within the heating, ventilating, building controls, refrigeration and air conditioning industries to policy-makers and the wider public.
The Forum featured some of the leading voices in building services speaking on a range of topics, including the use of BMS to future-proof investments; dealing with legislation to mitigate unnecesary business costs; the development of intelligent, interactive HVAC pipe networks; coping with risk and protecting buildings from cyber-attack; the Internet of Things and more. At the close of both the morning and afternoon sessions, attendees were given the opportunity to direct their queries at the speakers, resulting in a series of lively and informative debates.
One attendee was Barry Pinder, a BEMS engineer at Imperial College London who has been involved in BMS for nearly 30 years. Having worked for companies on the commercial and contracting side, he has a good understanding of the gaps in current technology. Speaking at the event, Mr Pinder said he was there to give manufacturers and service providers some idea of what he is looking for in terms of building management systems.
“As an end user I feel like I am a lone voice in the industry,” he said. “What I want is standardisation of BMS strategy, together with more useful user interfaces – they can often be over complicated – and better data analytics. I’m looking for technology that closes the loop, almost like artificial intelligence, something that does everything without the maintenance team having to go back to the plant.”
Of the engineering gap, Mr Pinder said it is the “remedial, reactive and corrective actions” that are currently missing.
Also at the Forum was Network Rail asset management specialist Peter Wasmuth. He said: “All of the subjects were very interesting and while some of the content was about reminding us of what is already out there, it’s important that it does that, because we need reminding! There is always a gap between what can be done and what needs to be developed; products take between one and five years to get to market, so we have to keep communicating and sharing ideas between different industries to get the products we want.”
Mr Wasmuth’s colleague, a project engineer at Network Rail added: “There has been information shared here today that would be very useful for future works.”
Gill Hewart, a consultant at Opeque added: “I particularly enjoyed the talk about cyber security; it made me think very differently about how we manage BMS. It was certainly useful for raising awareness.”
Exhibitor and speaker James Palmer, business development manager at North Building Technologies whose presentation provided visitors with a well-rounded overview on “What you need to know about the Internet of Things”, said the day had been “well attended, with some really good people. I think we are all talking about the same thing, which is great; it means we are all going in the right direction.”
Mr Beattie agreed the Forum had been very well received. He said: “The event was a great opportunity to both examine current challenges but also to take time to consider some of the opportunities that emerging developments such as the IoT will bring for our sector. Speakers and audience alike were overwhelmingly positive about the need for us all to stay alert to the pace of change.”
Jacqui Henderson, business director for Datateam Business Media was pleased to see such a good turn-out. She concluded: “The aim of the event was to provide a platform for innovation and debate which would play a role in shaping the future of building services, and feedback from delegates suggests we did just that.
“We have already booked the venue for next year and I look forward to announcing details about more regional events in the near future. I’d like to thank our sponsors, exhibitors and you, the delegates, for supporting our first ever Forum.”