Behind the Business: Somfy Systems

Somfy Creates a Niche with Motorized Window Technology
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"Over the years Somfy has focused on creating simplified solutions for the home technology integrator." -- Steve Iommi, Business Development Manager, SomfySomfy Systems, based in Cranbury, New Jersey, has spent the last three decades designing and manufacturing specialized motors and control systems for retractable awnings, rolling shutters, interior shades, blinds, projection screens, and other automated window covering applications. With its role in home automation often misunderstood, Steve Iommi, Somfys business development manager, answered our questions about how the companys products fit into the systems integration sphere.

Please help integrators understand how Somfys technology is integrated into other products in the custom installation market.
Somfys motorization products are compatible with virtually any third-party control systems through a variety of solutions. Connect the motor directly via dry contact or infrared, with the Multi-Link Radio Technology Somfy (RTS) family of controls, RS-485/RS-232, or ethernet.

What is the biggest challenge that your company currently faces?
Currently, some confusion exists in the market as to Somfys role, and communicating how Somfy fits into the home technology integration picture is challenging. So, we would like to take this opportunity to help clarify our position. Somfy manufacturers the motorization components of automated window coverings, which include the motor and electronic controls. Lets consider the fabrication of a solar/roller shade in order to better understand how Somfy fits into the picture. In simplified terms, a window covering fabricator assembles (or fabricates) a roller/solar shade by first cutting the desired fabric to the correct dimensions. The top portion of the fabric is then carefully affixed to the roller tube in order to allow the shade to roll up in an even fashion. Next, a tubular motor, such as the Somfy Sonesse 50, is inserted into the roller tube to create a motorized window covering. A Somfy control or interface (for third-party system control) may now be programmed to the motor in order to operate the window covering at the touch of a button or automatically if integrated with a timed function.

What would you say is the most important thing home integrators understand about automated window coverings technology and your companys role in it?
When considering automated window covering technology, its important for integrator to consider four key attributes of their supplier which include:

Reliability: Product reliability provides peace of mind not only to the homeowner, but to the installer as well. Installers will be glad to learn all Somfy finished products are 100-percent inspected against sector norms and internal performance specifications. They are designed for a life expectancy of more than ten years and come with a five-year guarantee.

Experience: A company with a more experience means better results. With more than 30 years in the industry, Somfy has expanded its focus from single-application solutions to whole-home and building solutions. Today, Somfy has the most complete range of motors and controls designed for interior window coverings, projection screens, and exterior products such as awnings and rolling shutters.

Flexibility: The type of window coverings compatible with motorization should not be limited because of a limited product offer. Somfy has developed a broad range of motors in order to be compatible with virtually any type of covering including wood blinds, roller/solar shades, roman/woven shades, pleated/cellular shades, sheer horizontals or even draperies.

Support: The level of support installers receive from the motor company powering the window covering is also important to consider. The Somfy Expert program is available to installers interested in becoming certified as a Somfy motorization expert. This comprehensive sales and marketing program offers an abundance of support material including: product training, literature, point of sale displays, showroom materials, in-home sample program, field support, installation assistance, dedicated phone number, email and website and more.

How has your product evolved over the years and what new product developments is your company focused on going forward?
Over the years Somfy has focused on creating simplified solutions for the home technology integrator. From the new quiet motor technology featured in the Sonesse motor range to the evolving Somfy digital network, Somfy is committed to designing products, which provide the best alternatives [for] custom integrators. The latest product in development, the Somfy digital network consists of the most technologically advanced motors, which communicate via a common network protocol with each motor assigned a unique address for selective control over the network. In addition, these motors are simple to integrate with third-party automation systems via dry contact, IR, radio, RS-232/RS-485 or ethernet and may be customized with intermediate positions with both individual and group control.

It seems that with green initiatives beginning to take center stage, the motorized window treatment market has even greater potential than ever. What is Somfy doing to participate in this trend?
Somfy is committed to developing products and solutions, which help achieve energy savings in both residential and commercial applications. For example, a complete range of timer controls allows users to program shades and blinds to adjust at pre-set times of the day which helps to manage heat gain in summer months and heat loss during the winter. This active management of natural lighting can realize significant energy savings. Also, because Somfys broad range of motors are compatible with virtually all types of window coverings, the homeowner is free to choose the most insulating fabrics.

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