homenews and insights the invisible upgrade

The Invisible Upgrade

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By James Wilson
30 August 2023

Project Sales Engineer

Meet our SSE Energy Solutions experts

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Helping our customers move from obsolete, unreliable and hard-to-use BMS equipment is a key part of SSE Energy Solutions.

For operational buildings, the challenges can be considerable, but we take pride in being discrete where needed. So much so one of our branches just carried out another ‘Invisible Upgrade’ at the Webhelp contact centre in Sheffield.

One of the biggest challenges estate and facilities managers approach SSE Smart Buildings with is how they can manage lifecycle and upgrade works without disrupting the daily function of their sites. Not least are they concerned about the repercussions of physically relocating building users (departmental heads often being particularly resistant to improvements but especially vocal with complaints), but there are also important considerations such as access around/over immovable equipment and furniture, management of waste/cleanliness and risking having critical equipment offline during vital operating hours. Here at SSE Smart Buildings, we have perfected the art of discrete BMS lifecycle and upgrade works in occupied buildings. The best example of this has become known as ‘The Invisible Upgrade’. The project in question involved the upgrade of three BMS panels, over 100 fan coil unit controllers and modernising the BMS supervisor/front end at a large multi-storey office block. By fully understanding how the site operated, developing a programme of works to suit the customer and expertly managing the project, all of the works were carried out so discretely, that the customer had to rely on written and verbal updates to establish the areas in which SSE had been operating.


When it came to handing over the project the only visible sign the works had been completed was the vastly improved front end. Following the handover, one of the property team said:

Communication was excellent, and even though the bulk of the installation was above the ceiling you’d never know anyone had been there, exactly how it should be! The system is light-years ahead of the old, which in itself was good but this is beyond.

IMG 5004 B Figure 1 - Old front end - funky and retro but a nightmare to use and maintain

Due to the nature of the office block, SSE Smart Buildings and the site user worked together to identify and mitigate any negative impacts of the works. These included working in areas where confidential information could be available, working around set shifts for employees and managing any repercussions of ongoing maintenance (not related to control) that were taking place during the project.

IMG 5021 B Figure 2 - one of the BMS panels upgrade. The panel itself was in good condition so many components were reused to deliver the customer good value for money

What’s more, knowing that it is important to maximise the opportunity available when accessing operational areas, SSE Smart Buildings was able to identify and implement further improvements to the BMS which helped remove issues that had long been causing issues on site. The biggest of which were continuous reports of staff being too hot or too cold. The solution was to relocate the temperature sensors used and adjust the software strategy. The complaints have since stopped.

There is a PDF version of this case study available to download