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.
2. CONTROLS CON
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.
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.
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.
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 –
Visit the event page for the registration form and more details, or reach out with questions to: email@example.com.
– The TCS Academy Team
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 well.
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 application
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 yours?
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