The new era of automated controls

10 Apr , 2018  

Winner of the prestigious BCIA Independent Building Controls and BEMS Installer of the Year award in 2015, ACS Controls Ltd. has been providing mechanical contractors north and south of the border with unrivalled automated controls solutions for a decade and counting. We caught up with founder / managing director Ronan McElholm to find out more.

Catering for the commercial, industrial, health & education, hospitality and transport sectors amongst others, ACS Controls Ltd. specialises in designing, manufacturing, installing and maintaining automated control systems to bring any building into the 21st century, be it a new build or a retrofit.

An outstanding one-stop shop solution is provided. All control panels are designed with the latest autocad software, using ACS’ own tried and tested macros to ensure that they work to the highest possible standards. Ensuring consistency and reliability, the panels are built in-house in a modern workshop, before being delivered to site, where sensors are positioned and the M&E team are advised on installation. Control panels are fully tested before leaving the workshop and ACS offers a fully comprehensive maintenance service to all customers.

Supplying a high-quality product backed by an excellent aftersales service, ACS Controls has come a long way since its inception ten years ago, delivering automated controls that enable the end user to make significant savings.

Coming from an electrical and instrumentation background, proprietor Ronan McElholm set the business up from his home a decade ago, in October, 2007. He boasts a wealth of experience of this highly specialised field, having cut his teeth in controls whilst working as project manager with E&I Engineering.

Reflecting on the company’s humble beginnings, he notes: “I started off in the box bedroom of the house, using the corner of the garage as a workshop. The business had a slow take-off because in ’07, of course, the economy was going into recession.”

Ronan took on his first employee within seven months of start-up, in May, 2008. Marion Finnegan joined as an engineer to build and test panels and was a valuable member of the team. Unfortunately, Marion passed away earlier this year.

“The company continued to grow steadily and in 2010 I took on an engineer for the road,” the MD continues, “In 2012, I added another man and the workforce continued to grow to the point where we employ ten today.”

After a team of dedicated engineering professionals design panels and building management systems to fulfil the exact needs of the client, ACS’s engineers build and test panels and system components in adherence with the specified design. Each project is unique and is carefully constructed. All parts used (and peripheral equipment) are of the highest quality and have been tested in-house.

ACS Controls also offer a full installation services. As they do not outsource the work, this gives clients the reassurance that every job can be traced from design right through to installation. As the installation engineers are experienced professionals, all work is invariably delivered to a high standard.

Typically, control systems are built for mechanical and electrical contractors – predominantly the former. “We work for large and small contractors and we tend to stick more to the smaller ones instead of taking on too much,” says Ronan. “We’re still a relatively small company and we want to give our absolute best to every project, always with a personal touch.”

Some recently-completed contracts include St John’s and St Paul’s National Schools in Rathmullen, Drogheda; and Scoil Chormaic Community National School in Balbriggan.

“We design, manufacture and maintain the control panels,” Ronan confirms. “The system is designed in compliance with the mechanical (or electrical) contractor’s specifications and every job is unique and bespoke. It would be very rare indeed that two panels the same go out of our workshop.

“These control systems are built to control and monitor HVAC systems and utility meters and you can do all sorts of things like set alarms to generate emails when the usage is too high, or higher than usual. Say, for example, the system is using more gas than it did for the corresponding period the previous year, then you will get an email making you aware of this.”

By monitoring usage and / or maintaining building temperatures to optimise running costs, significant savings can be made. For example, the Maldron Hotel in Derry was one high-profile retrofit project successfully delivered that led to unearthing just such efficiencies and making substantial savings – which resulted in ACS Control’s Ltd. being named as the 2015 BCIA Independent Building Controls and BEMS (Building Energy Management System) Installer of the Year.

Although the systems are obviously complex and there’s a certain element of rocket science involved in how they are designed and how they operate, Ronan is quick to point out that ACS specialises in simplification for the end user.

“I’d compare it to driving a car. There’s a lot going on under the bonnet that the driver doesn’t have to concern himself or herself with. The user doesn’t need to understand how the control systems work but we go out of our way to make sure that they are very easy for them to use. We also have our own unique graphics and unique software macros, which again makes things simpler for everybody.

“We design and manufacture all the panels in our own purpose-built workshop and we don’t run away from them once we have installed them. A maintenance package is available and we have a maintenance co-ordinator on board to look after this.”

ACS Controls has engineers based both in Northern Ireland and the Republic and one of the maintenance contracts they are currently servicing is Lidl’s Regional Distribution Centre in Charleville, County Cork

Looking to the future, Ronan concludes: “We’re always striving to keep abreast of the latest technology because you have to be able to move with the times and adapt or diversify accordingly. We have an agency for PRIVA, which is the main system we use. Up to 95% of what goes out of here has a PRIVA controller, which is a very reliable system.”

Indeed, reliability is at the very heart of everything ACS Controls stands for. By consistently achieving total client satisfaction, the company continues to grow on the back of repeat business and positive referrals.

ACS Controls Ltd.,

Unit D1 Ballinska Business Park,

Springtown Industrial Estate,


BT48 0NA.

Tel: +44 (0) 28 7135 7356

Mobile: 0044 079 1257 5436

Email: [email protected]

Web: automatedcontrols.org

Taken from Building Ireland Magazine, December 2017, Vol 3 No 11