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The Extinction of the Temperature Controls Contractor
When IP-enabled devices were brought into that industry, it almost seemed like overnight the telephones became a part of the IT community and the companies that stayed in the industry became IT-managed service companies.
President and CEO
Cochrane Supply & Engineering
controls available for mechanical systems today are becoming more like
the smart thermostats you put in your house. They provide simple
network configurations and appliance-like setups in a world of new
services available from the Cloud. These devices do not require
programming or graphic creation capabilities—oftentimes, wiring is a
breeze. Does the mechanical contractor need a specialized contractor to
set up this equipment in the future? Or is it not a big cost savings to
simply have the installer set it up at the same time and leave the
device to be networked by an IT-level service technician? Services can
be provided just through an internet connection now. Every project does
not need to be the next Mona Lisa. Is there room for the temperature
controls contractor in that world?
When it comes to this question and the topic of them going extinct, I’d like to draw a parallel to an industry that experienced something similar not too long ago: Telecom.
When IP-enabled devices were brought into that industry, it almost seemed like overnight the telephones became a part of the IT community and the companies that stayed in the industry became IT-managed service companies. That transition, as far as I can tell, took less than five years to occur from when devices became available to when there was nobody in the Telecom industry anymore.
Fortunately for the mechanical contractor, moving voice to an IT network was a lot easier than trying to move air and water. There is no question that the mechanical contractor is going nowhere. But, the partner for the mechanical that does that control system is changing. And changing fast. I can’t remember the last end-user meeting focused on a mechanical system where their IT team was not involved. As all major manufacturers switch to IP-based products, there is no question that IT-competent groups, departments and companies will have an edge on how to deploy these devices.
No longer is comfort just HVAC. System integration has become a part of a standard Building Automation System, and the traditional controls contractor who does not embrace this new industry frontier will fall further and further behind. There now needs to be a focus on how every digital device in a building communicates and functions, how it connects to a network, how the network software connects the data to the right person, how the right person receives authorization, and then mapping data to a data lake for further analysis by a data scientist. Standard HVAC controls professionals have changed to become predominantly IT-centric with all of the evolving intelligence as the market shifts towards greater integration.
Good luck, temp control contractor! Your time is limited…
Mark your calendars now to see Scott dive into this topic and many more in the free educational sessions at the 2020 AHR Expo! This session, in particular, will be Tuesday, February 4th, 2020 from 3pm-4pm.
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