This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson, Senior Research Associate at Memoori.
In a relatively rare move to augment its building automation business, Johnson Controls, one of the top 3 vendors of building automation systems, announced the acquisition of EasyIO, a manufacturer of open BMS control products on 21st November 2019.
In recent years, Johnson Controls has been divesting businesses, most recently its Power Solutions (battery manufacturing and energy storage) business in November 2018, which has refocused the company’s $24 billion Buildings business as a building technologies pure player.
Johnson Controls has also been filling gaps with acquisitions in its security and HVAC businesses. The addition of the Smartvue cloud-based video platform in April 2018 enhanced their security systems offering. While in the HVAC sector, the purchase of Triatek, augmented JCI’s range of HVAC airflow control systems that help healthcare and other critical research facilities reduce the spread of airborne contaminants and chemicals. With this acquisition, they are able to bundle Triatek products with their current building automation and HVAC products and services to provide end-to-end solutions for critical spaces.
Now that the former conglomerate has transformed itself into a pure player, the acquisition of EasyIO is a further indication of its revised strategic priority to strengthen and invest in their global market-leading positions in HVAC, Fire & Security and Building Management Systems.
We expect to see more investment in smart building technologies, whether through acquisitions, venture capital, open innovation or strategic partnerships.
EasyIO’s product line includes IP-based and network-ready controllers, HMI products, peripherals, gateways, and modems. Founded in 2000, they developed the first IP-based building controller with I/O in 2005 and have continued to win industry awards including best controller five consecutive years for the FG series supplanted only by the FS-32 in its launch year. The FW series was a recipient of the award for best wireless controller in 2019.
Their latest IoT building controller, the FS-20, was announced in Oct 2019. Built-in an open-source environment (Sedona, Linux) and standardized open communication protocols (BACnet, Modbus, IP), users have flexibility in new designs and retrofits. MQTT provides greater scalability and efficient distribution of data while reducing bandwidth consumption for the IoT market. And like the EasyIO family of building controls technology, the FS- 20 is a fully programmable device without recurring license or maintenance fees.
EasyIO is headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at its main manufacturing facility. The company has European regional offices in the Netherlands and the UK and a North American branch. EasyIO Professional Engineering provides design and installation services within Malaysia only. EasyIO Precision Components provides custom metal fabrication all over the world.
The company serves the facility management market, including office buildings, utilities,
industrial facilities, hotels, healthcare facilities, retail stores, residences and educational facilities. Their main target market is small buildings; they estimate that 70% to 80% of those buildings are not connected to a building management system so that they can be analyzed, monitored and measured or benchmarked. The reason for that is cost. EasyIO has been able to differentiate itself by reducing the costs of its controllers through having a shorter development cycle to get products to market.
According to its web site, EasyIO’s goal has been as “an innovative, disruptive company looking to destabilize the average BMS approach to the market requirements” and “to disrupt the established market players who continue to profit out of pushing old technology with no lifespan”.
Having now been acquired by one of these established market players, it will be interesting to see how this firm at the forefront of building controls innovation with its rapid technology development cycles, can be successfully preserved and at the same time integrated into one of the top 3 building automation companies in the world.