Schneider Electric targets security space for growth

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

CHICAGO–Schneider Electric, a global player in building automation and energy management systems, expects physical security to be one of its major growth areas going forward, according to Jim Sandelin, SVP of the company’s Buildings Business in the Americas.

"Honestly, if I looked at the Buildings Business, there are two primary growth platforms: One is energy management and the other is security," Sandelin told Security Director News at Schneider's annual editors’ event held here on Oct. 13.

Physical security is one of five ecosystems that exist in most buildings, Sandelin said, the others being power, data centers, process and machines, and building control. In the past, these ecosystems have operated with separate management systems. By integrating these systems, including security, end users can realize cost savings and efficiencies, Sandelin said.

The company has been working hard to alter its image as the world's largest producer of circuit breakers to one known for building automation and energy efficiency, Jeff Drees, president of Schneider Electric in the United States, said during one of his addresses at the editors’ event. "The name doesn't change, but the story continues to evolve," he said.

Through its building automation capabilities, including its new StruxureWare software platform, which it introduced at the event, Drees claimed the company could deliver up to 30-percent savings in capital and operational expenditures, primarily with energy costs.

Sandelin expanded on the claim and said end users need to change how they think about security. It's no longer a "necessary evil" and a matter of "risk management and cost avoidance," he said. By leveraging security technology, facilities managers could improve the overall operating efficiency of a building. "I believe there's a way for companies to begin thinking a bit more strategically about how they use security technology," Sandelin said. "Even to the extent that I would argue there's a level of competitive advantage to be gained as a result of leveraging security technology and all it can bring more efficiently."

Occupancy sensors and video surveillance have obvious security applications, but they can also be used to increase the efficiency of lighting and HVAC controls. For example, Pelco–the camera company Schneider acquired in 2007 and fully integrated into the Buildings Business last year–introduced a new line of thermal imaging cameras at ASIS last month. "There's certainly some runway for … how we use that for the initial purpose for which it was intended, but at same time certainly some ability to sense temperature change and so on and use that as it relates to an energy benefit," Sandelin said.

At ASIS, Pelco also released a new line of Sarix Cameras with its SureVision sensor technology, which the company claims "handles light nearly as well as the human eye." Sandelin said Pelco is well positioned for growth going forward. "Our growth in IP alone this year is in excess of 45 percent, which is significantly above the projected market growth," Sandelin said.

When asked, Sandelin said Schneider could grow its security offerings through more acquisitions and internal product development. He also said the company, by leveraging its Security Center of Excellence in Dallas, is not opposed to integrating third-party products into its systems, whether it be biometrics, PSIM software, access control or Bosch cameras instead of Pelco cameras. "Obliviously, our desire is to sell our stuff, but we also think for us to add value in this space and be a trusted advisor around security that we need to … be open to third party integration when it makes sense," he said. "You simply can't be all things to all people in this space and be good at it."