Man on an Integration Mission

Dr. Heinrich Hiesinger believes in integration. Not only of building systems, but also in terms of the ability to bring together groups of talented, specialized people who can deliver a single product. In fact, as Group President of the Building Technologies Group of Zurich-based corporate giant Siemens, you might say his job depends on it.


Dr. Heinrich Hiesinger believes in integration. Not only of building systems, but also in terms of the ability to bring together groups of talented, specialized people who can deliver a single product. In fact, as Group President of the Building Technologies Group of Zurich-based corporate giant Siemens, you might say his job depends on it.

Hiesinger kicked off a two-day Siemens-sponsored international press forum on market trends and building controls technology with his philosophies on integration. The forum, which took place this past June in London, was attended by some 110 journalists from 24 countries.

In his opening remarks, Hiesinger spelled out how economic conditions surrounding the commercial and industrial markets are still soft, but said that there are some positives, notably electronic security—access control, video surveillance, alarm systems and alarm management. The company expects to see 48 billion euros in sales by 2006—a significant jump from 2003's 700 million euros in sales. Building automation, he forecasts, will grow more modestly at 4.4% over the same period. The market for fire and life-safety systems, he projects, will remain stagnant.

With such high potential, security is the company's obvious focus, but SBT is also leveraging its other strengths to offer customers a more competitive package. A big part of that plan is integrating fire and security systems, which it is presently doing, most visibly in the stadiums that hosted last month's European soccer championships.

There, SBT also provided networks for audio and data transmission, lighting systems and low- and medium-voltage systems. It's expertise in this area also helped SBT land similar stadium contracts for work on the Athens Olympic stadiums and for facilities that will host the next soccer World Cup in Germany. SBT is also currently negotiating with the Chinese for similar work for the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing.

Of course talking integration is one thing, and actually doing it is another, particularly when you're talking about working in multiple countries.

Hiesinger took some time during a break to discuss these issues in more depth with CSE .

"It's a real challenge," he says. "If I add up all the engineers I have just working on codes and laws, it must be nearly a hundred."

The primary reason: liability. "Especially in the U.S., you need to comply with the spectrum of codes and laws. But at the same time, our broad understanding of these matters gives us an avenue to enter these kinds of multiple projects," says Hiesinger.

While the majority of SBT's fire and security business is in Europe, Hiesinger says it's the U.S., in many ways, that is leading the push toward integrating fire, life-safety and security systems. This a great opportunity for his company, he believes, in that having established fire and security divisions, their system architecture has evolved to where it easily lends itself to the combination of the technologies.

But growing this area is really more about new ways of looking at things than simply interfacing equipment.

"There are lots of good uses between the two. Take alarm centers. [Fire] alarms can be generated by many different means. But by having security linked with fire protection, that alarm will go back to a manned center where there's technology to help the guard or security person be able to read it, see what's happening and then react," says Hiesinger.

Beyond this, SBT envisions such personnel becoming even more empowered to be proactive. For example, Jens Wegmann, SBT's head of security systems, in his stadium security presentation noted the company is working on a number of logistic and security features that would take advantage of strategies such as electronic ticketing or other forms of automatic recognition and registration. Such a system would allow access solutions for facility personnel and VIPs, but more importantly, Wegmann noted, it would allow security personnel the ability to nab "hooligans," wanted criminals or known terrorists as they enter the stadium. Additionally, tying into criminal police databases would also allow security personnel the ability to scan crowds for known offenders and monitor them.

SBT has had stadium success here in the U.S. as well, having outfitted many of the building systems for Reliant Stadium in Houston. That contract also included work for the company's power, telecommunications and transportation divisions. "It's really the idea of what we call 'One Siemens,'" says Hiesinger."

Each division, he explains, tackles a market dependent on its expertise, but can come together under a project leader who has access to all the company's internal resources. "In working together, they see and learn the advantages of working as a whole and leveraging our capabilities. This works really well for stadium projects and in the pharmaceutical market," says Hiesinger.

It works, Hiesinger notes, because there is a spirit of cooperation. "Cross-selling is a culture. And we support these kinds of ideas with training programs, but we also try to motivate by incentives so there is a real benefit to our employees."

Of course, technological innovation is the other key. "We cannot just lead or compete by pure cost savings. We have to have the technology. That and the ability to cross over [divisions]," he says. "Innovation is our differentiator."

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