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Interview: Lillian Andersen, Schneider Electric Denmark

Lillian Andersen largeLillian Andersen has been the KNX Product Manager at Schneider Electric Denmark since 2008. Schneider Electric is a global specialist in energy management, and in Denmark it has a big footprint in developing different BMS systems such as KNX.

Andersen is an electronics engineer, and prior to her current position, she had been working with building automation systems in different roles since 1995 when KNX (formerly EIB) was introduced to the Danish Market. As the current President of Denmark’s KNX National Group, she is very active in promoting KNX in close cooperation with other companies.

In this exclusive interview with KNXtoday, Andersen shares her technical and commercial views on KNX, where she sees huge potential for a more energy-efficient approach to building automation.

Q: Why did you get involved with KNX?

A: Well, with more than twenty years of experience in the area of building automation and electrical systems, I have a number of good reasons. I have a personal passion for automation and a great sense of environmental responsibility, and I see KNX as part of the suite of building automation systems that are capable of reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

When we make buildings intelligent, we are actually reducing their energy consumption and creating a higher level of comfort at the same time. I love the fact that this is great for both the users of the buildings as well as the environment. With KNX, I am now at the centre of a market that is in constant development and is seeing new features and solutions all of the time. It is very inspiring to be a part of this. KNX is a great offer, and the fact that we are working with an open protocol as well as a global association only makes it stronger and increases its potential.

Q: What is your perspective on the KNX market at the moment?

A: The strength of KNX is becoming even clearer to stakeholders in the construction industry. They now recognise that KNX is not a luxury but a necessity to meet the requirements of modern buildings. Almost all countries have their own national legalisation and regulations concerning building construction, and this presents a great opportunity for KNX. The fact that the Kyoto Agreement has created a global focus on energy has brought KNX to the fore in the market for building automation systems.

It is also very clear that other sectors of the business, such as lighting, HVAC and BMS, are keeping an eye on the development of KNX and the possibilities it offers as the key protocol covering most functions in buildings.

Q: What opportunities do you see?

A: In 2013, KNX became part of the syllabus for electricians learning about building automation in Denmark. This is very important in securing the future of KNX, as a large part of the profession is now being directly educated in it.

At the same time, energy management and energy renovation of the Danish building stock are on the political agenda. This focus on energy savings creates great potential for KNX to expand in the Danish market, where huge investments are taking place in schools, hospitals and other public buildings. Despite five years of financial crisis, we have actually seen the market for KNX develop, and I believe this will continue.

Q: What are the challenges facing KNX?

A: The strength of KNX is its open protocol and the wide range of products that offer great flexibility. In the short term, this could also be seen as a weakness, because there are so many possibilities and it is easy to get lost in the huge range of products and functions, which can be quite an expensive experience.

Newcomers need to gain knowhow not only on a product level, but also in the engineering of KNX systems, and in the more specific solution design details. This takes time, but with sufficient knowledge, you can make the right choices and focus on the required functions, not just on the cost of the project.

Knowledge is key to success, and we, as manufacturers, have a very important role to play. For example, to make sure that we do not lose anybody in the process, Schneider Electric Denmark has taken several steps to meet the demands of the market. We have all of the different educational material available in Danish, and we offer constant support through our customer care centre, with specific application engineers helping our customers in the field. We also run courses at the Schneider Electric Education Centre.

Q: What will help the market to develop in Denmark?

A: It is very important to support and create interaction between all stakeholders in the construction industry, and constantly educate the market in KNX in order to keep the ball rolling. We must make sure that end users and investors appreciate the benefits of using an open protocol in their projects, and that consultants specify KNX as the basic building technology in their specific project descriptions. Integrators, installers and electricians must also build up the necessary skills to handle this new wave of building installation.

It is also extremely important that we in the business ensure that integration with other systems is simple and transparent – we need to keep an open dialogue with other technical enterprises in the project.

To help the market develop, we need to push KNX to all parts of the value chain. And then we need to cross our fingers and hope for more private investment to help us out of the financial crisis!

Q: How do you keep in touch with the market?

A: I have quite an aggressive approach to the market and I use every possibility I get to promote KNX. I attend both international and national exhibitions such as Light+Building and EL & Teknik to deliver the KNX message and to keep me updated on the latest products in the huge network of KNX manufacturers.

Then there is the educational system. In Denmark Schneider Electric is in close cooperation with technical schools and universities, which KNX also benefits a lot from. Then we have a strong local network between the different companies within the KNX National Group Denmark. Despite the competition between our companies, we cooperate closely and have a united approach to promoting KNX. Unity is very important if we want to get the message across.

Q: What is your favourite KNX project at the moment?

A: I am very excited about the construction of new hospitals in Denmark. It appears that they have turned their attention to KNX, and I really hope that they are indeed looking our way. Nothing is certain, but a huge project such as this will certainly boost awareness of KNX. The political focus on renovation and energy efficiency is also creating some great potential for KNX and we are going to see some huge investments in the near future.

Q: What is your advice to the industry?

A: We need to keep the focus on KNX because the system can cover all of the needs in a modern building, and it also has an excellent interface with other systems, resulting in great flexibility. It is also important to maintain a good dialogue with other branches of the business such as lighting, HVAC and BMS.

Lillian Andersen is the Product Manager for KNX at Schneider Electric, and President of the KNX National Group Denmark. Schneider Electric is the global specialist in energy efficiency and management.

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