KNX: Step-by-Step Project Management, Part 1

“Installers are underappreciated!” – By Unknown

In fact, most of the readers can refer to this statement so that the so-called “Unknown” could be anybody who is working as a system integrator. And the reason is simple: For the majority, only the obvious is visible, or in the integrator’s case: The final result. What is less obvious, is the training, preparation and actual work, which have been invested in this project, in order to fulfil the customer’s requirements to the max. A lot might be known by the customer about the chosen brands, the security aspects, the available solutions and even the technology. However, the less is known about the actual work of a system integrator.
This article focuses on the necessary steps to ease the start of a project. Welcome to the Checklist for Installers – Part 1.

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1. Getting started with the right questions
An easy finish and a happy customer is the result of a good preparation. Best preparation is to understand, what your customer actually wants. So in order to figure this out, the right questions have to be asked to get a full understanding of what is expected from you.
-     What does your customer want their living space to be like?
-     What are the most important characteristics that a house/building should have?
-     Who will be living in the property?
-     How will the rooms be used and by whom?
Only once your customers are clear about how their various rooms, how and by whom they are to be used, you will be able to offer them an effective, intelligent building automation system. Examples:
-     Storeroom  → Motion Sensors
-     Hobby Room  →  Vacuum cleaner
-     Gym   →  Air conditioning + Air quality
-     Laundry  →  Leakage alarm
-     Conservatory  →  Shading, ventilation, temperature control
So best is also to give your customer a little homework: Ask, which floors will have what kind of rooms and what the according desires would be. Starting from the basement, going up all the floors to the attic of the house. And do not forget the garage.
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2. Your query
Only once you are fully certain about what your customer actually wants, it is your turn to get started.
-     Define a lighting plan for each room, on the basis of the customer needs:
a.     What devices need to be switched?
b.     Where is dimming required?
-     Also, once the customer knows, what he wants, start with defining a plan for controlling blinds, windows, doors and gates, and specify their function.
-     Determine whether there are further technical devices that need to be controlled by or connected to the building automation system. Examples are:
a.     Swimming pool
b.     Heat pump
c.     Garden Watering Systems
d.     Home Cinema
e.     etc.
-     Lastly, discuss with your customer a safety and security concept. But do not forget to also identify the consequences.
Especially in regards of the last point, it is usually not obvious for the customers, which consequences some of the decisions in terms of security might have. For example, if ‘internal alarm activation’ is one of the customer’s desires, he should also be aware at the same time that he must not open any windows by hand, as this would set off the alarm. Or especially for pet owners, when a passive trap system with motion sensors is desired, they could make the alarm bell sound as well. Therefore, think carefully and inform your customer.
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3. Customer Tasks
 As the estate belongs to your customer, it is now time draw some responsibility to the customer as well, in order for you to execute the project accordingly.
-     Ask your customer to define, on the basis of the questions, which have been asked in the beginning, what controls are required in each room.
-     Explain to your customer that he needs to think in terms of functions rather than in terms of conventional switches.
-     Important: Point out to your customer what controls might be needed in the future.
The last point shows a high expertise of the integrator, as we are also talking about a sustainable installation. Future needs might be:
-     when the use of a room changes after children have left home
-     when furniture is rearranged
-     or if family members, who have special care needs, move in.
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4. Defining operating philosophies with your customer 
As already said before, the customer is living in the house and therefore using the installation. So when it comes to the usage, it has to be in the way the customer likes it. So what needs to be defined?
-     Push-button sensors: left for on, right for off? Central functions always at the bottom? Also: Use of status LEDs?
-     What about remote controls?
-     Does the customer want central control panels, touch displays or visual displays?
-     How does the customer intent do use room temperature controllers?
In a nutshell
Using the Checklist will ease your project and make your customer happy. Also, since the customer was involved from the very beginning, the bigger picture of the project will be made obvious, which allows the customers not only understand your expertise but also appreciate your work and experience.
Therefore, in order to be best prepared, simply follow the steps of the described checklist. If you like to download the complete checklist, which can be used as an official document between you and your customer, simply click here. Furthermore, the downloaded Checklist contains more information, such as supplementary sheets for other possible applications, such as for lighting, shading, window and door control, as well as HVAC, alarm functions and many more.
For more information on KNX and the easy installation of this open technology, have a look at Start@KNX.
Do not miss the next article: “Checklist Part 2: Handover”

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