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Local History of our DDC Industry
Several British Columbia start-ups that are now highly successfully international companies owe their start to a team of visionaries, who were focused and were resolved to get high performance controls in BC.
Founder, Owner, Publisher AutomatedBuildings.com
I was recently reminded of the fun we had in the past helping create the Direct Digital Control industry in British Columbia. It was the best of time with the best of folks. It was a revolutionary time when the building automation industry was just starting to evolve from pneumatics to the newly rapidly evolving microprocessors and the concepts of DDC.
The solutions were many and everyone was working on their next big thing. These recently evolved DDC solutions needed to be organized into substantial products and the then British Columbia Buildings Corporation (BCBC), a crown company wanted to buy this local technology but needed to change traditional purchase policies while including and helping grow the traditional building automation industries.
BCBC's Jack Meredith, Director,
Technical Value, Tom Hartman,
Hartman Company, myself and a few others, focused on the concept of a
Operator Control Language "OCL" which was an enabler for us all to
achieve Hartman's dreams
while solving a myriad of existing building operational problems.
In this article I provided some of the history of OCL and our struggles.
“The Past and Future of Control Languages” A call to the industry to speed their evolution to open protocol for control languages. - Ken Sinclair, AutomatedBuildings.com
The solution for a provincial government to purchase never before seen products came from creating a Request for Proposal "RFP" for building automation systems. This new concept had been used to purchase corporate computing equipment and systems.
This was early 1980s when this started to evolve and by the early 1990s a RFP manual was put on the internet which was another new evolving trend. BCBC had chosen to name their building automation energy management control systems, Client Comfort Systems, to reflect the strong concern of our purpose in achieving that goal with the least amount of energy.
I am extremely pleased that the
British Columbia has not taken this valuable piece of history and
evolution off their
servers as it stands as a milestone in the history of the building
automation industry. It depicts a shift in industry thought as well
as a tribute to the success of self investment by the Province in
creating several international DDC control companies. Plus the skills
learned in the assembly of this CCS manual and early day use of the
internet have been instrumental in the formation of
AutomatedBuildings.com by Jane and myself.
BCBC CLIENT COMFORT SYSTEM (CCS) - DESIGN MANUAL
was created by a team of dedicated folks.
This page captures and acknowledges some of the Key players
Here is the TABLE OF CONTENTS of that manual
This document was shared with anyone who had interest and clearly started a lot of change in the industry.
The document held the local building automation startups feet to the fire. As each control company start up or traditional, created new features they quickly became mandatory requirements. Each RFP allowed proposing vendors to feature items that they had in their product that exceeded the mandatory requirement. Value of these exceeding features was assigned on a project basis.
Each project would bring several new features and local startups and the industry in general grew quickly.
Local start ups were many at first but meeting the mandatory requirements of the RFP was a challenge.
Some of the local
pioneering heroes that grew their companies in an RFP environment were;
Al Walker of Walker Technologies Corp who created
some of the first systems from the roots of a computed line steering
system (autopilot) for hydrographic survey vehicles. These early systems evolved to;
ESC- 50 and ESC-100 HVAC product lines for (Energrated Systems)
Custodian and Custodian Plus HVAC control systems for Honeywell
Roland Laird who
worked his way through many systems to find the present Reliable
Brain Goodchild & Raymond Rae started originally as energy consultants and clearly understood the need for a powerful low cost DDC control panel with a strong OCL. They too worked through a few brand names to arrive at Delta Controls.
In the early days I
was an energy automation consultant using the evolving RFP
format. Brian came to my house to show me his latest product that
proposing for my BCBC project. He took a ragged assembly of cage cards
out of his briefcase (printed circuits had just been invented and
were extremely expensive in low production numbers). As he laid the
new product on our coffee table, I asked what does it do?
Brian responded in his always calm manner "What do you want it to do?"
He could of course make that statement because it had not yet
quite been invented, so adding a feature was not that much of a
problem. Of interest the product that came to the job did not use cage
cards it was made of some of the first printed circuits boards with
lots of solder traces on the back. As always, Brian made the
match the mandatory requirements, penalty defined delivery date and
passed the dreaded seven day test of the RFP. It was the best of
with the best of people, all of us learning from each other in a
Both these companies grew quickly and both became great supporters of BACnet and have a strong history with the actual development of the standard. Both are still strongly involved in the BACnet movement.
control companies and device manufacturing companies also quickly
in British Columbia. A similar revolution was occurring in the
province of Quebec which bred many successful DDC companies and device
The above history
of our industry shows how our collaboration of pioneer visionaries, and
the startups, all working together with local governments can provide
amazing returns for us all with international reach.
Not sure how but somehow government needs
to understand how well they did with this and see that investing in
technology ( our Assets, our people ) in BC has amazing results in
achieving a prosperous green life style for many. The industries
created all bring money to BC from international places without cutting
down trees, running pipelines, selling water, or burning carbon, while
reducing carbon where products are used.
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