Building Management Systems vs. Building Automation Systems

November 29, 2023 By Mid-Atlantic Controls 3 minute read

416872788The world of building facility managers is rife with acronyms and jargon. Two terms that often cause confusion are Building Management Systems (BMS) and Building Automation Systems (BAS).

BMS and BAS are acronyms that are frequently used and interchanged. Yet, they point to somewhat different facets of building technology. Understanding these two concepts can enhance system management and save time and money.

Read on to learn more about these two terms, their unique characteristics, and how they contribute to efficient and effective building operations.

What Is a BAS?

A building automation system is a computer-based control system installed in buildings. It monitors and controls the building's mechanical and electrical equipment such as ventilation, power, fire, and security systems. 

A BAS also offers facility managers a way to view and manage their building's HVAC and lighting systems. It's like a central nervous system for a building, ensuring all mechanical and lighting systems work together efficiently.

What Is a BMS?

A Building Management System is a more comprehensive system. While a BAS focuses on HVAC and lighting, a BMS is a complete package allowing a portal into the HVAC, security, lighting, and all major systems. 

This includes Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs), lighting meters, water meters, and valves. In essence, a BMS is a more holistic approach to building management, offering a more connected perspective on all the systems in a building.

The Evolution of Building Management Systems

Building management systems evolved over the decades from standalone systems to interconnected networks. Previously, each system independently managed specific functions without coordination. Modern integration enabled centralized control and real-time monitoring. 

Emerging technologies like smart buildings and the Internet of Things allowed system-wide integration. Previously disparate systems could now connect. This gave facility managers comprehensive operational insights beyond individual functions. Data analysis and predictive algorithms became possible.

User-friendly interfaces and remote management allowed for flexible, comprehensive control from any location. Intuitive dashboards granted easy access to data and management capabilities enabling efficient oversight and proactive optimization.

What Are Some Recommended BMS Vendors?

As with any technology or service, the quality of a Building Management System depends largely on the provider. Some of the top recommended vendors include Tridium, Distech Controls, Siemens, and Honeywell

These vendors offer robust, comprehensive, and reliable BMS solutions. Their products are well-regarded in the industry, offering a range of features and capabilities that make managing a building more efficient and effective.

Choosing the Right Provider for Your Building Management System

Choosing the proper company to partner with is as important as selecting the right Building Management System solution. The ideal BMS partner will be responsible for appropriately implementing the system, training personnel, and furnishing ongoing support.  

When researching companies, go beyond comparing product specs on paper. Have in-depth discussions to assess their expertise with similar systems. Inquire about their implementation process and timeline. Contact references to understand past performance.

Examine the support and maintenance offerings as well. Do they have 24/7 emergency assistance? Do they offer maintenance services? Ongoing support is critical for optimizing uptime, performance, and system lifespan.

Consider services beyond the BMS too. Some companies provide engineering, training, and Master Systems Integrator (MSI) services. Having integrated services from one knowledgeable partner can increase convenience and value.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Building Management Systems

BMS technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Key trends like smart buildings, IoT integration, predictive analytics, and remote accessibility are transforming these systems. As capabilities advance, BMS enables more proactive and holistic building management. Staying up-to-date on the latest innovations will be key.

Click below to learn how to tell if a BMS system is right for your building.

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