Siemens preaches, practices at new HQ

Wednesday, July 1, 2009
BUFFALO GROVE, Ill.--Being part of a worldwide conglomerate has its advantages. For Siemens Building Technologies, it means having the resources to create a Customer Solutions Center and corporate office here that not only serves as a display hall for the company’s products, but also has been built and designed from the ground up to show off the company’s integration capabilities. 
The building itself is LEEDs certified, for example, and produces zero actual garbage, showing Siemens’ internal commitment to green practices. Neil Pickrem, who runs the CSC, even noted that the building contains “no printed material.” When customers are brought in for a briefing, they are shown presentations on one of a dozen video screens, all of which are integrated into 14 PCs (recycled from employee workstations) so that the same video and audio can be seen and heard on any screen at any time.
Further, there is a Barco display wall running Siemens’ SiteIQ video analytics-enabled video management system, which customers can play with, adjusting levels of security; watching vans, cars, and people walking to the smoking area trigger alarms; and manually operating PTZ cameras. There are also C-Pass control panels integrated with cameras, a Sygnal mass notification system integrated with the fire alarms, and gadgets like a Zigbee-wireless thermostat you can stick just about anywhere that’s integrated into the HVAC system. 
Carey Boethel, VP and head of the Security Solutions business unit, said having the facility helps sell building automation “at the right level ... If you have a security guy selling to a security guy, you’re not selling building automation,” he said. “You have to elevate the pitch within the organization.”
Is Siemens actually having success selling wholly integrated buildings, where the HVAC, building controls, security, and fire systems are all part of one system? Boethel said he’s seeing customers at the high and low ends of the size spectrum: “At the small end, you’ve got customers who can’t afford to have individuals in charge of all the different pieces – they’ve just got one guy for facilities and security, and that can be the path of least resistance.” And at the high end, there’s often a c-level position, he said, that sees the efficiencies that can be created. “It’s about vendor consolidation, a different value proposition,” he said. “It’s a much more complex and longer sale, but there are certainly companies that are doing it today.”