Case Studies

Somfy Systems Inc.

Automated window and building facade products operating in North America

Somfy Systems Inc. is the North American arm of Somfy, a French-owned international brand of automated and motorized window treatment operating systems with a North American headquarters in Dayton, New Jersey. The parent company started out in the 1960s, eventually expanding to a network of 76 subsidiaries, 60 offices and agencies across 59 countries. With eight production sites, Somfy has an efficient and responsive industrial assembly tool. The brand’s high-quality standards allow the international business to cater to the needs of 220 million users and 30,000 commercial clients worldwide.

Somfy is currently the global leader in manufacturing strong, quiet motors with electronic and app controls for both interior and exterior window coverings. For more than 40 years, Somfy engineers have designed products for both commercial and residential markets to motorize window coverings such as interior shades, wood blinds, draperies, awnings, rolling shutters, exterior solar screens and projection screens.  Somfy motorization systems are easily integrated with security, HVAC and lighting systems providing total home or building automation.

The business began with a single concept – a tubular motor for awnings, and has expanded to a broad line of fully automated products that serve as a green interface between buildings and the outdoors. As the product line has expanded, Somfy has added controls to the docket as well, improving usability and enhancing energy efficiency for end users.

Ty Saville is the company’s architectural/engineering market specifications manager for North American operations. He began his career with Somfy in London and moved to the company’s U.S. operations in Dayton in 2014. His office coordinates with three additional North American offices, located in Boca Raton, Florida, Irvine, California, and Toronto, Ontario.

Sustainable automation

Somfy produces automated motor and control systems for window blinds, shades and curtains, as well as outdoor awnings, pergolas, exterior screens and rolling shutters – all designed to deflect or retain heat gain. “The sustainability side of our product line is all about automation,” Saville explains. “When you have a standard solar shade or any shading device that’s manual, you can’t guarantee that it’s in the right place at the right time. Automation allows that to happen so it can be designed and modeled into a residential or commercial building to make sure that you’re rejecting as much solar heat gain as possible when needed and retain heat  in the winter when needed.”

Saville believes the market trend toward automation has been a natural progression of the building industry. “As building legislation changes, we have to think of new ways of building and constructing buildings that meet the energy expectations, both regulatory and of our end users,” he explains. “The Automation story blossomed out of the idea that buildings are not just four brick walls, but aSomfy Systems Inc.lso involve people interacting with the outside environment through glass. For example, Gurtekin, Hartkopf and Loftness of Carnegie Mellon University reported average energy savings of 52 percent thanks to the use of high-performance daylighting systems.”

Because Somfy addresses both regulatory issues and the demand of building owners and developers, the company approaches marketing from all sides. Saville and his colleagues strive to educate end users about the benefits of automation as well as building engineers and architects. The brand supplies projects through OEM channels, such as shade fabricators – integrating its motors and controls into the products of window treatment and building envelope product manufacturers. “It’s a push-pull scenario,” says Saville. “We are going out and creating demand, and then supplying and growing the overall market while expanding our own business.”

Somfy automation and control products are in use in varied settings, both residential and commercial, throughout the world. In North America, Saville says the company has been involved in a number of distinct projects in recent years.

“We were heavily involved with the United Nations building in New York a few years ago,” he recounts. “We also provided automation solutions for the Jacobs Medical Center, the Stockton Courthouse, the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas. We’ve done several projects with LA Fitness and we did a lot of work in Canada for the Pan Am Games, including Athletes’ Village.”

Green industry involvement

As Somfy automation and control products grow in acceptance and demand throughout the green building industry, the business is keeping in step with its market. “We are always reading trends and the push for automation has ramped up significantly recently due to energy policies and building regulations,” Saville notes. “Automation contributes significantly to achieve Net Zero Energy certification for new construction. Electricity consumption in the commercial building sector doubled between 1980 and 2000 and is expected to increase another 50 percent by 2025.”

The company also strives to continue making connections with potential partners and clients through networking, Somfy is attending the 2015 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C. – the fifth Greenbuild where the business has exhibited.

“Greenbuild has significant importance in the industry we work in,” says Saville. “It’s good for architects and building engineers and owners to see where the market is going. We are committed to being there for brand awareness and recognition and we take a whole-company approach to our attendance.”

“For a start, it’s great to see what other companies are doing,” he continues. “To showcase and witness is an important factor. It’s also good for the educational side of the show. You get the continuing education presentations from different companies and you can see how they’re attended and who’s attending. Greenbuild helps us keep up with the market and we take important things away from show on the technical side, the marketing side, and ways we could support current or future building projects.”

Opening shades and future opportunity

Beyond Greenbuild, Saville foresees continued growth for automation in the green building market. LEED V4 promises an emphasis on automation and heat regulation via building envelope and window products.

As Somfy anticipates that growth, the business maintains quality, experienced personnel and a drive for innovation. “What gives me a great sense of pride working here is the way this company treats our people,” Saville notes. “We are very human-resource focused and we try to put people first, rather than the company, which pays us dividends in the long run. We have great focus and product development as well.”

With these assets in place, Somfy Systems Inc. strives to remain a leader in motorization, working to expand the market through automation.

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