The Path to Building Automation Controls Systems Integrator: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

GOOD: Most industries in the US are self-regulated, as compared to Europe, Germany, in particular, where Uncle Fritz determines their outcomes. The recent and massive Smart Grid and Renewable Energy initiatives are examples where Uncle Sam gets the wheels turning with generous hosts of grants and rebates, then moves aside giving way to the free-markets and supply and demand (or something like that), but we literally watched the infrastructures develop and the magnetic force that forged the talent and expertise together to support the futures of these industries.

BAD: Unfortunately, our HVAC and Control Industry has no such pedigrees, manufacturers have gone at this individually, with their own priorities and objectives in mind. Granted, the largest segment of talent introduced to the HVAC and Building Automation Controls Industry has come from these manufacturers, but things are changing, as these manufacturers are pooling their global resources — and are not developing the same numbers of controls specialists and technicians they used to, those likely to become the future stewards of the US HVAC and Controls Inustry — and for manufacturers, there are no regulations or profit reasons to do so.

The migration of expertise coming from IT to HVAC and Control Industry brings a lot of network savvy and promise, but in the typical 40-story high rise experience, the IT folks are missing about ten to twelve floors of mechanical and controls experience.

The HVAC and Control Industry can no longer rely on manufacturers, as building automation controls suppliers, to systematically develop talent and draw more positive attention to our industry. This is now something that we must do from within. Distributors of building automation controls were keeping the boat afloat, but with transactional distributors and manufacturers commoditizing as much as they can to flood the markets from every facet, distributors, on a survival course of their own, can’t fund the learning curve anymore.

The numbers are dwindling! Soon, we won’t be able to retire properly! Because there is no one to take your place! Look behind you right now. How much integration and controls talent is in the cue at your place of business, and who minds the monitor when you eek out a lousy week’s worth of vacation?

UGLY: We can always outsource! Use the talent from the Global Engineering houses located along the Pacific Rim, India, or go back to Europe for help. No xenophile here, just reacting to the most recent national trade meetings where one manufacturer was handing out an “all tee-ed up and PO-ready” option to enlist their off-shore talent.

Is it me again, or is something not right with this submissive nature. Let’s reduce some of the free-for-all and help to define and standardize the integrator’s path that we know peaks at the AX certification.

Comments

  1. says

    I have been a HVAC control tech since 1981 and agree with your blog.
    we do not see that many young people wanting to learn HVAC controls. I am happy to share my knowledge and teach anyone wanting to learn. I am 50 years old and I plan to work well past 70. HVAC Controls is one of the best jobs in my opinion.

  2. Clint says

    Doz,

    Thanks for the real story. It’s the same around
    here. There is a cultural stigma enveloping the HVAC and Control Industry, that’s beyond the blue collar thing. Young people sorting their ways through commercials and expectations can’t connect the dots between their skills/talents, a reliable and rewarding career, and social/peer acceptance — and the awkward avenues of professional approach to the industry don’t help. What do you suggest?

  3. says

    In agreement with Eric, but I may go one step deeper. The entire HVAC industry is in a very similar condition. There are alot of folks that know RTUS, Chillers, pumps and boilers, but not many folks anymore know SYSTEMS, you know that arena where RTUs, chillers pumps and boilers lay and live side by side in that arena called a BUILDING.
    Companies have “specialist” that know RTUS, Chiller specialist, pump specialist, and boiler specialist, with the hope if they can throw enough manpower at a problem they can usually get it figured out. Give me a SYSTEM guy that starts at the problem and works their way back to the RTU, Chiller, Pump or Boiler not the opposite.

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