BMSI-Priva partnership delivers rapid ROI for MoD


Building Management Solutions Integrators (BMSI), part of British Gas, is reporting ongoing success with a number of major project installations across the country. The latest, at a large Ministry of Defence (MoD) site, is based on the Priva Blue ID building energy management system (BEMS) from Priva, with which the company has a full trading agreement and partnership.

BMSI provides everything from control panel design and manufacture, electrical installation, BEMS software engineering and commissioning, through to offsite client training. Indeed, this capability was demonstrated recently in a project involving Priva’s Blue ID, a freely-programmable system for process control and monitoring.

The project for the MoD, one of the country’s largest landowners with more than 4000 sites and around 55,000 buildings, was initiated with the aim of reducing energy consumption through the upgrade of the facility’s ageing BMS. BMSI was appointed to the contract by CarillionEnterprise (now CarillionAmey), who provide FM services for MOD across the MOD Estate.

BMS upgrade

“The BMS was slow, poorly maintained and relied on an old network,” says Account Manager at BMSI, Chris Bennett. “In addition, the system that was in place is no longer being developed and spares are very expensive. The site had experienced failing BMS network, outstations and software issues over the previous year, which in turn resulted in boiler plant running inefficiently, poor fault diagnosis and no vision of plant operations.”

Priva Blue ID consists of a base upon which individual functional modules can be installed. All the mission-critical components are located in these modules. The wiring takes place on the base, which is robust and insensitive to failures. However, in the unlikely event of a failure occurring in a module, the failure will remain restricted to this part of the system. The base is always live, and communication always remains intact. It operates independently of field equipment and can communicate with a wide range of field bus protocols.

Priva Blue ID has been developed in accordance with the ‘best fit’ principle. Thanks to its modular design, the system is suitable for every application, from a small school to a large hospital, and from a university complex to a data centre. 

An Army Reserve photographer of the Media Operations Group (MOG) taking pictures of fellow reservists during a Media Challenge exercise in Cyprus.

2-wire functionality

“Priva Blue ID was ideal for this project.  It is fast and it is modular,” says Mr Bennett. “It was our first project using Blue ID but it proved a value proposition for Carillion and the MoD.” 

From BMSI’s perspective, one particular benefit of opting for Priva Blue ID was the Priva 2-wire functionality. This is a unique technology using IP over a 2-wire cable. It makes it possible to reuse existing cabling during renovation work and to bridge considerably longer distances than is achievable using Ethernet. The fact BMSI were able to reuse existing sensors and cabling on seven networks resulted in tangible benefits to the customer: increased speed of installation and minimum disturbance to existing infrastructure.

Familiar environment

Another benefit of opting for Priva Blue ID is the extensive applications library. This means that the MoD’s site operatives will be able to work with similar graphics and operation to those they have used in the past. This makes ongoing site maintenance easier and it gives the end user the feeling of working within a ‘familiar’ environment. Ultimately, it helps give the end user peace of mind and gives the customer the confidence and tools required to deliver the highest level control of energy and comfort.

The MoD site, located in the West Midlands, features over 70 individual buildings, many of which are storage or warehouse-type facilities. In total, the system currently deploys 55 Priva Blue ID controllers linking communications across the site, predominantly overseeing boiler, heating and hot water functions, along with a little ventilation. There are already plans to extend the system in the future.

The five and a half month project was completed in June 2014 by BMSI engineers specialising in the upgrade of older BAS and standalone controls systems. Scott Bethell and Carl Williams from BMSI used their vast experience to fully engineer and commission the system using most of the existing infrastructure, upgrading the ageing serial network and obsolete outstations into a fast Ethernet and modern control system.

BMSI do not yet have full energy savings to report because winter is yet to arrive. However, the company has estimated a very short payback period for the MoD of just 2.4 years, which highlights the level of energy savings anticipated.

BMSI now monitors the site using its bureau service, with alarms flagging up any spikes in energy consumption so that issues can be addressed without delay. On site, a web-based PC graphics system allows authorised personnel to view the status of plant and data across the site.

Salisbury Plain Training Area for Army Reservists from the Royal Wessex Yeomanry (RWxY)

Only need a PC

One of the big advantages of Priva Blue ID is that there is no requirement for a proprietary front end or special supervisor software like other systems. All that is needed is a PC – (as long as this PC meets all of the required security network clearances).

For the MoD, the upgrade is allowing authorised personnel to access heating controls immediately and seamlessly without any of the previous issues such as communications errors and extremely slow networks – the site’s old network was upgraded providing faster connectivity and more reliable communications.

Furthermore, visual ability is now much better with enhanced graphics. This means any faults can be addressed quickly, rather than relying on a reactive-based process. 

First class support

Site engineers Scott Bethell and Carl Williams singled out the support of the Priva team during the busy installation period as a factor that assisted greatly in delivering success for BMSI’s customer and the end user. “This was a big installation and the support from Priva was exemplary,” they commented. “We had access to some of Priva’s top end guys and they helped us work through our first Blue ID project. It’s a great system and Priva are a good company to work with.”

Partnership, in fact, is the cornerstone of the BMSI approach. The company works closely with its suppliers, M&E customers, FMs and end users. What’s more, each client receives the personal attention of a contract manager to ensure smooth communication and the efficient resolution of issues.

Alongside major project installation, BMSI offers maintenance solutions and energy bureau services. Indeed, the company’s service facility supports some of the largest BEMS installations in the country, including projects for prestigious landmarks and FTSE 100 businesses.

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