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Interview: Stephan Erasmus, Futurasmus

Stephan ErasmusOriginally from Germany, Stephan Erasmus moved to Spain over ten years ago and founded Futurasmus with his wife Anablanca. Having been a KNX enthusiast for a number of years, in 2000 Stephan completed his KNX training in Germany and decided to open his own KNX company (EIB at the time) in the then virgin Spanish market.

Futurasmus first focused on the integration of KNX systems, and carried out several projects which gained it valuable practical experience. Soon after in 2002, the company became a wholesaler for different KNX brands, importing products and know-how mostly from German manufacturers, and in 2003, Futurasmus became a KNX-certified training centre.

Nowadays, the company offers one of the largest multi-brand KNX catalogues in the market, and prides itself on great customer service. With headquarters in Spain and Germany and an international web site also available in English, Futurasmus is expanding into the Far East regularly ships KNX components to more than 50 countries.

Q: Why did you join the KNX Association?
A: We have always thought that the KNX Association is one of KNX’s most valuable assets. The Association is the umbrella under which the whole concept makes sense. The tough process of certifying tutors, partners, members, national groups, scientific partners, manufacturers, application programs and components, is key to KNX’s success and is the glue that holds everything together.

We are involved with The Association at several levels: as a KNX tutor; as a certified training centre; founding the Spanish national group; and as a KNX professional in Germany, participating in trading fairs and conferences, etc.

Q: What is your perspective on the KNX market at the moment, what trends do you see?
A: We really see it booming exponentially. The efforts of the past 20 years are paying off. In countries such as Spain, which is somewhere between established markets such as Germany and more reticent ones, such as France or Great Britain, KNX is not a luxury item any more, but something that is generally accepted as essential for new, future-adapted buildings. It has even done well despite the current financial recession.

But mostly, we believe that the new markets in Asia, Middle East, Southern Africa and South America will change the KNX map completely, introducing new needs, technical requirements, designs and distribution structures.

Having small- to medium-sized manufacturers KNX certified has also opened the door to more KNX solutions and possibilities. This really has invigorated the market without adversely affecting traditional structures.

Q: What excites you at the moment, what opportunities do you see?
A: We are particularly thrilled about complementing our international online offer with a local presence in some very interesting territories. We are actually very pleased to announce the immediate opening of Futurasmus China, Futurasmus Middle East, Futurasmus India and Futurasmus Southern Africa. In order to engage in this new venture, we are counting on qualified local companies who will follow our high standards of commercial quality and technical support, as well as furthering their certified trainings. The support of our partner manufacturers from Germany and Spain is vital in this crusade and we are very grateful for it.

At the same time, we intend to continue optimising our everyday work and the service we provide to our established clients in Spain, Germany and other European countries. Many of them have trusted us for years, and we always do our best to offer better and better solutions and conditions.

Q: What are the challenges facing KNX, what are its weaknesses?
A: KNX’s biggest challenge as a communication bus, is for it to grow at the same rate as the newest technologies and still provide backwards compatibility. So far, KNX can easily be retrofitted, and the latest models will talk to the oldest ones. But there are always new products coming to market and the protocol needs to adapt and embrace these newcomers.
In terms of weaknesses, I must say that regrettably, the quality standards of training have dropped sharply in many cases. Having a lot of new KNX partners every week is good for us all, but the new professionals really ought to have basic KNX installation and programming skills.

Q: What do you recommend as a strategy in helping the market to develop?
A: I personally believe it was a great idea from KNX to launch the new ETS App, since it is likely to encourage manufacturing and engineering companies to help grow the only commissioning tool, while offering new solutions. Unfortunately, it is a bit too expensive for the vast majority.

An area worth looking into is the incorporation of Asian language into ETS and KNX user interfaces. The Asian market is one of the fastest growing, and the ETS should support all the different characters, since language does matter. KNX manufacturers should bear this in mind when creating interfaces, so that end users are able to interact with their homes and buildings in their own language.

Q: How do you keep in touch with the market, which trade events or resources are helpful/of interest to you?
A: We try to attend professional trade fairs such as Light+Building Frankfurt, ELTEFA, and Light+Building Guangzhou, to name but a few.

There are other means to be informed about KNX news and trends, such as the KNX Association newsletter and website, but honestly, I believe the sector needed something like KNXtoday to gather information, news, opinions and personalities. Congratulations and good luck!

Q: Where do you see the industry being in a year’s time?
A: I personally believe in the ‘avalanche’ effect of our sector. In the coming months/years, KNX will gain market share more rapidly than ever before. The more partners, manufacturers, presence, and national regulations we have, the quicker growth is going to be.

Q: What is your advice to the industry?
A: Think further than Europe and investigate the needs and tastes of each part of the world. Focusing on green buildings is definitely a trend at the moment and most probably also long term one.

Stephan Erasmus is Owner and General Manager of Futurasmus, an international KNX wholesaler, KNX training centre and KNX systems integrator.

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