Archibald Makatini

Governments and businesses in Africa are making sizable investments in smart buildings, precincts (airports, universities, etc.) and cities. However, ‘smart’ is not easy to do. To address the growing challenge of planning, integrating and maintaining a multitude of different, highly connected systems, Johnson Controls is launching a new offering in the Africa region —  ‘Technology Contracting’. 

“With technology advances and an explosion in cloud connectivity, a new approach is needed to construct and run smart buildings,” says Archibald Makatini, Regional General Manager at Johnson Controls in South Africa. “Johnson Controls’ Technology Contracting provides the needed expertise and oversight to plan and coordinate the implementation, then optimise the performance of the many different engineering, electrical, building and IT systems necessary to power a smart facility.

“This offering has been available internationally for over a decade. Now, with a growing number of smart-facility and smart-city investments in Africa, Johnson Controls is committed to building the capacity and resources to power an African Technology Contracting team.”

Technology Contracting provides a single point of control and accountability from planning to running a facility. It reaches across design-assist (ensuring key players, such as architects, engineers and technology providers align to meet project intent) to installation, integration, commissioning and maintenance of complex building, business and specialty systems.

Johnson Controls, a multi-industry leader with over a decade of engineering, plant, security and facility management experience across industry sectors globally, is one of a very few providers that can offer technology contracting with confidence. Each of Johnson Controls’ Technology Contracting clients are assisted by a dedicated project team comprising technology, engineering, facility management and other experts with global experience.

“Our goal is to build an Africa Technology Contracting team that not only draws on Johnson Controls global expertise but has a deep understanding of the challenges specific to the continent,” says Makatini.

Tipping point for Africa

Technology contracting is rapidly becoming essential in Africa as traditional approaches fail to deliver the expected benefits of smart construction.

“Across Africa, with its lack of smart infrastructure, large socio-economic burden and the need to drive economic growth, digital technology is opening up a wealth of new opportunities,” notes Marius Brits, Connected Technology BDM at Johnson Controls.

“Mass urbanisation is making it a priority to put in place the fundamental infrastructure needed for smart buildings, facilities and cities. We are already seeing the first smart cities being planned and built in Zambia, Ghana, Mauritius and Kenya. We are also seeing smart airports, universities and hospitals being designed. However, it is also becoming vital to invest in smart building capabilities for existing buildings to ensure security and cost efficiencies can be achieved.

“Johnson Controls, with its HVAC, Building Management, Security and Fire Systems, with sophisticated Facility Management services, finds itself positioned at the juncture of electronics, engineering and information technology infrastructure and systems, and is increasingly being approached by local partners and customers to provide technology contracting services.”

The reality African investors, construction houses and design, engineering and technology suppliers are facing is that traditional approaches to construction are no longer feasible.

Explains Brits: “Historically, every supplier or specialist provider is responsible for the installation of their equipment. Construction managers are tasked with connecting systems as varied as HVAC, security, communications, IT and business management systems. However, with so many varied systems, technologies and subcontractors involved, there is duplication of product logic and infrastructure, integration is difficult, data is underutilised and the gaps in data security are growing.

“Because everything is now digitally enabled and connected, building, plant and information systems cannot be implemented in isolation; to function optimally, they need to be integrated to each other and to back-office and external systems. Common platforms are needed to ensure integration and technology roadmaps must be scrutinised to ensure ongoing compatibility and evolution of functionality.

“Planning needs to begin at the design phase and construction needs to be overseen by a provider with broad and deep capabilities that reach across smart connected equipment, building controls, fire and security, IT networks and systems, and specialty business applications. This approach allows the technology contractor to ensure the building is created not as a collection of systems, but as a functional whole, conceived, designed and delivered with the end in mind.”

Johnson Controls leverages a partner ecosystem of manufacturers, distributors and value-added resellers to bring proven, repeatable, best in-class technologies to new construction, retrofit or technology refresh projects.

“With our ecosystem of partners, we have the collective brainpower to engineer genius into the DNA of a building, delivering the possibilities of the Internet of Things and advanced technologies to support innovation today and tomorrow,” says Makatini.

“We have the shared experience to provide flexible procurement strategies, material logistics to address the challenges of site logistics and project financials, labour diversification strategies to meet workforce fulfilment requirements, and the lowest market prices by using staged material purchasing or a just-in-time delivery model.”

The local Johnson Controls team is moving rapidly to offer Technology Contracting locally. “I believe it’s a solution that can add significant value to our customers in Africa and will see a quick uptake,” says Makatini.

 

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