Episode 402 ControlTalk Now: New Smart Building Controls from New Zealand

For everyone that reached out this week with such a positive response to the relaunch of ControlTalk Now the HVAC and Smart Buildings Video Cast and Podcast: THANK YOU! It means a lot and is tremendously appreciated.

On this week’s episode of ControlTalk Now The HVAC and Smart Building Controls Show I introduce Elwin Mckay Smith and Brian Collins from OpSys Solutions. OPSys is based in New Zealand but ships its products all over the globe. I think you will enjoy what they have to say.

Besides my interview, I give you the Control News you need for the week ending Feb.19, 2023.

Things You need to Know this Week:

1. Belimo Webinar: 8 Advantages of Belimo Butterfly         Valves

Butterfly valves are fundamentalssecomponents in hydronic systems. Most butterfly valves leak, are not optimized for HVAC applications and are challenging to install. In less than 30 minutes, we will highlight the eight advantages of Belimo’s butterfly valve amblies that ensure system performance, energy efficiency demands, simplified setup, diagnostics, and data access. A live Q&A session to follow.

Tuesday Feb. 28  1:00-1:30 EST . Register.


April 27.28 Detroit
Confirmed keynote speakers include: Martin Villaneuve, President of Distech Controls, Bill Schwebel, VP & GM of Building Automation Systems and Controls (Global Products), Victor Abelairas, GM of Tridium, Jim Lee, CEO of Cimetrics, and Tom Daenzer, Digital Business Development Manager at Belimo Americas. 

The event’s trade show will be comprised of the industry’s top manufacturers, including VYKON by Tridium, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Distech Controls, Belimo, and more. Attendees will learn about the newest products and services in the building controls industry, as well as automation best practices, and business development strategies during the day-one general session, and day-two business and technology breakout sessions.  

Click here to Register.


3. Haystack Connect Nashville June 5-7

Haystack Connect 2023—organized and produced by the Project Haystack Organization—provides a unique, open-forum for professionals involved in automation, control and the Internet of Things to learn and share the latest technologies and techniques for connecting systems and utilizing device data in applications including intelligent buildings, energy management, remote monitoring, and other IoT devices and applications.

The two-and-a-half-day long conference includes keynote presentations, a vendor exhibition hall, and a packed schedule of technical sessions covering data acquisition, communications, protocol translation, data visualization, analytics, data semantics, modeling and security—all critical technologies essential to using operational data to drive improved performance.

Register here.

4. Realcomm/IBcon Las Vegas June 13-15

The Realcomm education program is designed to give BUILDING OWNERS, DEVELOPERS, CIOs / CTOs, PROPERTY MANAGERS, ASSET MANAGERS, FACILITY MANAGERS and ENERGY / SUSTAINABILITY DIRECTORS the technology tools they need to positively impact the bottom line of their companies from automating business processes, to general technology solutions specifically for real estate organizations, to smarter intelligent building technologies.

The conference has since grown into two co-locating events, which includes IBcon, the first and now largest, most comprehensive smart building conference for commercial real estate and facilities companies. Since our inception, more than 150,000 people from around the world have attended Realcomm | IBcon events.

Register here
5. TCS Spring Training March 27-29 Madison Wi

Hosted by TCS in Madison, WI, this live, in-person three-day course provides an overview of our hardware, software, and service offerings, plus a comprehensive, hands-on tutorial on the installation and setup of a building automation platform. The course covers HVAC subsystems and an introduction to BACnet as it relates to TCS product offerings and so much more –

Register Now!

Visit the event page for the registration form and more details, or reach out with questions to: training@tcsbasys.com.

– The TCS Academy Team


Show Notes:

Eric Stromquist  0:03
Hi, this is Eric Stromquist. Welcome to control talk. Now your smart
buildings video has some pocket for the weekend in February 19 2023.
Hey, for all you people that reached out last week, I want to start
off by saying a very, very special thank you for all your words of
encouragement. And glad you guys are digging the new format on control
talk now the smart building videocast. And podcasts it will evolve.
But it got me thinking things have changed a lot. Since Canada did the
first podcast 50 years ago. Back then there was no zoom. There was no
team meetings, there was Skype. But if I wanted to interview you know,
Canada had two guests, I had to have four computers, four separate
instances of Skype running a boatload of cables and adapters coming
into a mixer or some complicated mix minus stuff I had to do.
Basically, it took about an hour to set it up before we can even hit
the record button. And then we just prayed that everything was going
to work out. So it's changed. I mentioned that because now with Zoom,
it's very, very easy to do a podcast, we've got a lot of great
podcasts in our industry now, which is really, really cool. But one of
the things that's changed is that back before COVID, people had long
commutes to work or back. And so it made a lot of sense that would pop
the Ctrl talk now podcast and and we were very conscious of doing long
form, meaning we went longer, we went about an hour over an hour on
our podcast. And it made sense, right? Because people didn't have that
many podcasts to choose from. You guys also remember pre COVID, we had
these things called commutes. A lot of us had very long commute to
maybe an hour to work an hour back from work. Would that I mean, it
made sense. So Monday morning, you get up you get in the car, you put
control talk now on by the time you get to work, you've got the
control news you can use for the week, you're good to go, you're ready
to start your week. Well guess what not many people have commutes
anymore. If they do, they don't commute every day. So many people now
are working from home and guess what they're working from home on Zoom
or Skype or Microsoft Teams. So they really need a break from all the
information too much information is almost as bad as not enough
information. And that's what I hear from people over and over. It's
just too much too much too much. So how can we make control trends? So
how can we make control talk different, I was thinking about that we
still need to information needs to be useful information. But I've
decided that control talk now is going to be shorter, I'm gonna go 30
minutes or less every week, I'm gonna try to have really interesting,
useful guest. In the past, we sort of cycled through the same guest
all the time when it wasn't that they weren't great guests and not
still great guests. It's just that it's the same sort of perspectives.
So going forward, I'm gonna try and get as many different types of
guests on the show as I can and offer as many different perspectives
and perspectives as I can. As things go on. The second thing I'm going
to do is I'm going to start dropping the show on Sunday night. And
what I mean by dropping is I'm going to start publishing the episode.
In the past, I just waited until Monday morning, because people were
driving to work on Monday morning, or when they and it made sense. By
the time we got to work. They had the podcasts and they had the
information they needed. So if you're like me Sunday night, after sort
of had the weekend, you know, around 10 o'clock or so I'd like to sit
down and sort of get the paper pen and paper out figuring out what I
want to accomplish in the upcoming week. My hope is that we'll control
talk now make this part of your Sunday night routine, and disorder aid
in that I'm going to break the podcast down. So in the first five to
seven minutes, I sort of have the hot takes the things that I think
you need to know in the upcoming week. It could be price increases, it
could be conferences, it could be training sessions that are coming
up. It could be it could be messages from manufacturers about
products, but the point being but the point being what I want to do is
give you that first five to seven minutes. So if nothing else, you can
listen to the first five to seven minutes. Have a feel for the events
coming up in the next week that you want to be aware of. Okay, so as
in that spirit, things you need to know in the upcoming week. So first
up on things you want to be aware of this week believe Oh, it has it
has a webinar coming up Tuesday, February 28 from 12 to 1230. Steve
Lopes will be talking about the eight advantages of the blamer
butterfly. Alright, we're getting the conference season the first big
conference is going to be controls comm Scott Cochran and his team at
Cochran supply we'll be putting that on that compass will be April 27
and 28th in Detroit, Michigan. Next big conference that I think is
going to be really fascinating is going to be the haystack connect
conference which is going to be in Nashville, Tennessee, June 5
through the seventh. And in the big one real combivent con Jim Young
and his team are going to be rocking it out in Vegas this year, June
13 through the 15th at Caesar's Palace. That should be a great great
conference. TCS control systems has their spring technical course in
Madison, Wisconsin, that'll be March 27 through the 29th. And season
two of the building geniuses podcast my friend Tim Bogle just dropped
last week, you can get that now his first guest was Jim Young from
real calm, iBeacons encourage you to check that out pretty well had an
announcement this week on their spider PVL controllers, on some of the
units there might have been on some of the years might have been
incorrect configuration on the universal input. So check that out.
Again, I'll have a link to that in the show notes so you can check it
out. And speaking of spider training, if you're looking to get trained
on spider, my favorite distributor Stromquist, and company has an
online on demand spider training program, I'll put a link to that
other training before you watch them make sense to you. So there you
go. Those are the hot links. And in the future, I've created a special
email link. So if you have an announcement you need to make to the
ControlTrends community, you can hit me up at ControlTrends
hotline@gmail.com. And like I said, either shout it out, or I'll make
sure it gets in the show. So that's that. So let's get on to our
guests this week. I am so excited. I got two great guests from New
Zealand. They were here at HR and Atlanta here about a week or so ago.
I'd like to introduce a man they got some really cool products and
some great messages for the industry. So it's my pleasure to introduce
to the control trans community. Brian Collins and Elwin Kai Smith from
ops system solutions down in New Zealand. Welcome, guys. Thanks for
taking a few minutes.
Brian Collins  6:39
Thanks for having us here. Good to see you back on the year.
Eric Stromquist  6:42
Yeah, it was good to be back, guys. It's good to be back. And you
know, Brian, I can't wait to chop up with you. Because you know,
you're doing a lot of marketing. But I want I want to start with you,
man. So you know, you started this company, which we'll get into in a
few minutes. But why do you want to be on the show, talk to me a
little bit about what you guys are all about.
Elwin McKay Smith  6:59
Follow the show for years, and it was our pinnacle to get on then. And
we were really started where we were super keen to kind of contribute,
watched a lot of the shows that you've done, and we think we've got
something to contribute. We've planned a lot of different fields. And
we're super king.
Eric Stromquist  7:20
I mean, you know, when I was doing the research on you guys, you guys
are contributing a lot of really timely information, you and I sort of
have an affinity for marketing. So talk to me a little about what
you're seeing regarding marketing for we're going to chop it up with
the products,
Brian Collins  7:33
I think it's probably no surprise to most people in this industry that
the marketing lacks a little bit of a flash a little bit of flavor,
right? I mean, it can, it's not that great. There's no group of issued
people, there's no industry that deserves good marketing, more than
the people that run our buildings and make it a great place to work,
and do all of the invisible things that we take for granted every day.
And so one of the things that we bring, aside from trying to sell
products is to try and bring the message that this industry is
important that it's often overlooked, and that we have wonderful
stories to tell. And so that's the thing that we sort of the message
that we sort of bring forward. And, and marketing is one way to do
that it is the way to bring your message to the people right and to
build your brand.
Eric Stromquist  8:30
One thing, it's a passion for me. And I think it might be a passion
for you too, as here we got, you know, Silicon Valley just essentially
out marketing us for talent, and they're selling them on the idea of
hey, come change the world. Whereas if they come to work with L one,
or you guys are in our industry, I mean, you are changing the world.
Right, and you got the data to back it up. No, I
Brian Collins  8:51
absolutely agree 100%. It, I think that what has happened is the
Silicon Valley has has sold this idea to millennials, in particular,
that you could change the world through this social media app through
this ride sharing app, etc, etc. Right. And it's an extremely powerful
message. And we're working on a piece right now, an article that sort
of makes the comp the argument that I don't know how, how successful
has that change been? Right? It certainly changed our world, but not
all for the good, right? But if you really want to change people's
lives, this industry is one that you want to send your CV to, it's the
one you want to apply to. It's the it's the industry that makes sure
that the people that actually are working on apps and things can
actually do that. I mean, the miles and miles of of cabling and the
controllers in the interoperability that's needed. Right. And we need
to tell the story, we need to tell the story to the people who have
been late Get off in these in these tech industries who are looking
for jobs. And we need to say you need to come over here, man, there's
something important. If you really want to change the world, you will
come over here.
Eric Stromquist  10:11
He'll leave the cubicle and change the world. Right, Ellen? Ellen,
let's get into it now, man. Tell me about your backstory. So before
you started the company, what were you doing? And how did you come up
with that idea for the company?
Elwin McKay Smith  10:26
Well, I've been in the game for about 23 years, come from system
integrator, basically. So we've been doing building controls for quite
some time. And then really, it kind of came out of the need to
innovate. So we had a project going way back in 2011, where the
customer had a multitalented builder, and the customer kind of argue
around who hit the button, and who should take the charge, they have a
lot of common areas that they used. And so you know, every month they,
the owner would come to them and say, Hey, here's the bill for the
afternoon as a condition. So one was a cat, the City Council, and the
other one was a quite a dominant or predominant consultancy firm who
worked a lot of hours, but they had a lot of shared common space. So
the customer said, Look, we're going to do this big revamp and the
voting to think about a better solution, something a little smarter
than just the button on the wall. And something that's going to stop
some of these disputes that are happening every month, they came to us
and said, hey, well, what what can we do? What's an idea? So we kind
of brainstormed and went alright, well, let's make a web portal that
they log into. And this was kind of mark one, let's get them to book
it on online and set up a schedule or recurring events. And then we'll
come up with an hourly rate. And then we'll add a bit of depreciation
in there for the plant. And let's give it a whirl. But the customer
who we developed it for, when this is a really cool product, we have
similar issues in our other buildings, let's roll it out, really liked
it. And then over time, we developed a Android app and an iOS app, and
then added a bunch of enhancements to it. And then we kind of got a
bit of feedback and people like, hey, we really liked it, we'd like to
give it a try as well. But we'd like a few extra features in it. And
at the same time from our journey. As the integrator, we've kind of
come up with a bunch of custom maps,
Eric Stromquist  12:31
you know, Brian, talked about the the nomenclature with the tenant
override and how that works.
Brian Collins  12:38
Yeah, so like, from a marketing perspective, I think that you can
appreciate this area. So whenever one of the first challenges I met
was in trying to market, you know, after hours, HVAC is like, what are
people searching for? Like, if I'm doing SEO, right, and I'm buying
Google ads, what are people searching for? So if I put an after hours,
or tenant, or address, I'm competing with things like technicians who
are going people who are looking for someone to come to their house
after hours in order to fix their air conditioning, or heating, right.
And so that's a big battle that we have to have. And it's it's called
something won in one country. And then it's called something in a
different country. And that makes it really challenging to optimize my
keyword searches, for example. So we've we've done a lot of
experimentation around that. And seeing what some competitors have
called it. But we're still fighting that battle. We do use tenant
override occasionally, but it's not really as popular say, in
Australia, they wouldn't really know what
Eric Stromquist  13:49
what did they say in Australia? What was their
Brian Collins  13:53
thing. They'll usually call it something like after hours, or it might
be a combination of tenant after hours override or something like
that. So one of the one of the things that we tried to do, and I guess
that every company who has a product like this is to own that name,
right? And to be out there and to push it and push it and push it
until people just say, oh, okay, it's after hours or it's tenant
override, right? And so that's, that's been a big marketing push for
us. But
Eric Stromquist  14:26
you should you should go pay to play that should be your thing.
Brian Collins  14:35
One of one of our philosophies as a company is sort of to get people
to think about H fac differently. We'd look at it as sort of an ending
resource that we know and an extra five or 10 years it's very likely
to it's not going to be seen that way at all. It's going to be
extremely expensive to run And there's going to have to be a shift and
the public understanding that this isn't just something that you just
flick on.
Eric Stromquist  15:08
And as you as you know, we got so many set skyscrapers here. And you
know, we got some workaholics. Right. So you get one law firm, for
example that comes in, and you're starting up this huge chiller just
so that they can work after hours. So by being able to build something
like this into the lease, that, you know, the owners are protected,
right, this concept has been around for a while here. But Alvin, it
sounds like you guys got a really kind of slipping, especially maybe
for some of the smaller buildings, right?
Elwin McKay Smith  15:36
Yeah, we're definitely over. So COVID, we found that the tenants are
use using the bowden differently. And the building owners had certain
a saying that and each time that the tenants come up for
renegotiation, this whole idea of hey, everything's going to be in the
topics or this will this will this discussing, kind of changing? And
so some of the tenants now are out of the office more than they're in
the office. And so now, in some cases, they're going, Whoa, hold on.
If you're going to be in the office, why don't you book the condition?
You know, Gone were the days where we just turn the air conditioning
on every single day, regardless of if you're there or not, no one wins
out of that. So in some cases, we've seen them go right, well, we're
going to change the whole button to work like this. And so when they
come in, they book it, that it's a user pays kind of system and the
way they go, so that seems to be definitely the trend.
Eric Stromquist  16:34
Okay, you guys have several different product offerings. So Brian,
will you walk us through how you guys go to market?
Brian Collins  16:39
Sure thing. So it's opposite solutions, right, we've got two or three
main products. One of them is a 4.3, capacitive touchscreen, that
we've used that we it's run by Raspberry Pi, and we call it the Z No,
that's one of our major hardware pieces. For software, because we do
hardware and software, our major product is seven aux, we call it a
it's an after hours scheduler, after hours H back scheduler. And it
basically allows tenants to use a portal or their their their iPhones
or mobile devices to schedule, air conditioning, heating after hours.
So before 9am, or after 6pm, whatever the normal business hours are,
but and we also do dashboards, energy dashboards, those kind of
things, those kinds of customized software products for for people.
Eric Stromquist  17:39
Now when let's talk about about the product, because it seems like you
know, you got hardware, you got software, it seems like the hardware
interesting, and Lef is sort of based on Raspberry Pi. So one of
Elwin McKay Smith  17:48
the reasons for going for the Pi was to have a piece of hardware that
was available to the size locally. So that they could go off and
purchase it. And then we could just give them an SD or give him an
image depending on how capable he is sidewalks. And it's something
that everyone had available in their market without us having to worry
about shipping. And we just wanted to make it easily deployable. So
the idea with the rise of buyers is the Raspberry Pi runs a little
custom application on it, which basically makes it a native BACnet
device. And that BACnet device connects to our cloud service and reads
the sheduled and the packets and basically creates like a virtual
BACnet variables are sheduled so that they can then use to link to
control the plant.
Eric Stromquist  18:42
So are you saying then that they just you buy the Raspberry Pi
wherever you are, and then you're actually buying the software from
you guys just to download it to it, or you saw on the Raspberry Pi as
Elwin McKay Smith  18:53
Yeah, so now we do both depending on what they want, but they're also
able to display a rise in price from their local market. And then we
just give them the image that they can run on the Raspberry Pi. And it
has a little webpage user interface that they jump on. Once they put
the username and country credentials into the page. It connects to the
cloud service and then they define the device from the seven knocks
Eric Stromquist  19:20
because when you're an SI and you're building a product that other you
know you understand what an SI is really looking for as well as
unknown because they're asking you for those those products. So you
know, Brian, really, really impressed with the website. You know,
very, very clean I think it really communicates what you guys are
about it seems like the messaging on the website are hardware and
software for making the home and and businesses a better simpler place
to work and simple seems to be about to speak sort of about you know,
from a marketing standpoint, what you were going for with the website
and sort of how that reflects what you guys do product wise.
Brian Collins  19:57
Yeah, well, thanks for that. Yeah, we were works really hard on
keeping it simple. And as most marketers know, getting things simple
is really the hardest way, right? As I say, if I had more time, I
would written your shorter letter, right? Yes. So, but it is part of
our it is part of our brand, our products are meant to be easy to use,
they're meant to be simple plug and play or just purchase online. But
we also, of course, have multiple offerings. So we have to present
those on a single in a single point, right sales point. So even that
drove the idea of keeping things really simple. So we do present them
as sort of vector points on each each part of the website, to where
they can go and find out more information. So that's sort of how the,
the homepage came about the simplicity of that. So that was the idea.
Are you guys gonna
Eric Stromquist  20:57
come back to the States anytime this year? You're gonna do real
combine economy and other shows? Or was this it was a target?
Elwin McKay Smith  21:05
Oh, no, I think differently. We really enjoyed coming over. And we
really enjoyed soaking up the market, we really enjoyed seeing just
the sheer size of all the different products, our trade shows are a
lot smaller than IRH. And it's certainly a market that we're really
interested in. So you'll be seeing more of us.
Eric Stromquist  21:28
Well, Ellen, I tell you what, I don't know what's on your schedule,
but if you haven't been to Vegas yet, Brian will tell you that show
real calm Opticon and I think it's in June in Vegas, and that is if
you guys can make that show at all. That's that's a fantastic show.
But to kind of wrap it up guys, Brian, how do people how do people
engage with you guys?
Brian Collins  21:49
Yeah, so if you want to know about Optus, you can go to opposite
solutions.com There you'll find links or information on all of our
products from the Zeno 4.3 capacitive touchscreen and there's also a
link to seven aux which we have our own website you can find a lot of
information on that you can check out the pricing on
Eric Stromquist  22:14
it. I mean we like let's make a deal. So let's make a deal. What can
you guys do for the control trans community with this great product of
Brian Collins  22:26
Well, we can offer 10% off the annual subscription price. Nice happy
to do that
Eric Stromquist  22:32
just type in control trend or Eric sent you are Bald is beautiful.
What code did they need to put in
Brian Collins  22:38
all this beautiful work? I think you
Eric Stromquist  22:42
agree. Thanks so much, Tom for taking speak with our ControlTrends
community. We look forward to seeing you guys. I think you guys are
destined to do some really great things. Hopefully we'll be seeing in
the states real soon. But thanks again.
Brian Collins  22:54
Thanks for having us.
Eric Stromquist  22:56
Ben Fishman. Now the weaker control talk now your smart buildings
videocast and podcasts I thank you so much for tuning in. Remember, be
bold. Stay in control. stay relevant. If you'd like Hunter Thompson,
buy the ticket. Take the ride
Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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