For decades, HVAC manufacturers have been product companies. They manufacture devices that make our lives more comfortable. And while the technology in those HVAC devices has advanced, and those devices have become smarter and more connected, the companies themselves haven’t really changed. They are still manufacturing companies creating products that they sell to building owners, homeowners and facilities managers.
Well, thanks to the cloud and other new technologies, that is all about to change. The equipment data being generated by HVAC devices is opening the door to a new revenue stream for the HVAC companies that are bold enough and brave enough to walk through it.
By aggregating, storing and analyzing their device data, today’s HVAC companies can become more than manufacturers, they can become service providers – offering proactive maintenance, optimization and other services to the customers that have purchased and installed their equipment. This is the concept behind HVAC as a Service (HVACaaS), which was one of the hottest topics of discussion at this year’s AHR Expo.
Following the expo, we had the opportunity to sit down with Mike Garceau, a general manager at Honeywell, to talk all about the HVACaaS revolution, the technologies that are enabling it and the steps that HVAC manufacturers need to take to make it a reality.
Here is what he had to say:
Modern Equipment Manufacturer (MEM): Can you tell our readers about Honeywell’s HVAC and building management solutions? What do they do and what makes them different?
Mike Garceau: Honeywell Building Management Systems (BMS) increase the efficiency, comfort and security of buildings every day through building controls, field devices, software and cloud access focused on the commercial market.
Some products that we offer that have unique technology and capability include our CIPer Model 30 controller and our LCBS Connect system.
The Honeywell CIPer Model 30 is the industry’s only Niagara-based controller with a 1Gbps, 4-Port IP switch which integrates demanding IP peripheral devices such as cameras at speeds up to 10 times faster than devices using Fast Ethernet and 1,000 times faster than serial MS/TP controllers. The CIPer Model 30 supports a variety of applications, including: variable air volume, fan coil units, rooftop units, variable refrigerant flow, boilers, chillers, hydronic heating and cooling, and single- and multi-stage air handling units. It can power current and future complex HVAC and non-HVAC sequences, equipment, and a wide variety of IP peripheral devices to enable IoT infrastructure.
Honeywell’s LCBS Connect is a cloud-based heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) solution for light commercial buildings that can monitor and diagnoses HVAC systems in real time to increase the speed of repairs in the event of a service interruption. The system is in constant touch with the HVAC service provider, issuing customizable cloud-based alerts to a contractor’s smart phone, tablet or computer.
LCBS Connect helps reduce temperature complaints by allowing the service contractor to program setpoints in order to better address the specific heating or cooling issue before it affects building occupants. Additionally, the solution reduces maintenance time and costs by allowing remote troubleshooting and potentially eliminating service calls. The remote monitoring functionality also allows the HVAC provider to improve service response time and, in many cases, resolve issues before the building tenants are aware of it. The system maximizes HVAC system reliability and efficiency by providing key diagnostics for the building operator to incorporate into a preventative maintenance program.
MEM: In advance of the AHR Expo, we sat down with some of the show organizers, including the show manager, Mark Stevens. One of the hot topics that came up in that discussion was the evolution of HVAC as a Service (HVACaaS). Is 2020 the year that we start to see HVACaaS take off? Why or why not?
Mike Garceau: With IP technologies and IoT making such big gains in HVAC product, it’s inevitable that we’ll see new business models like HVACaaS to serve the end customers better. When HVAC equipment is better connected – using hardware products like the Honeywell CIPer Model 30 controller or software like the Honeywell Forge platform – we’re getting closer to making HVACaaS a reality.
MEM: What needs to happen in the industry to lay the groundwork for more wide and rapid adoption of HVACaaS?
Mike Garceau: The adoption of new technologies like HVACaaS will take a willingness to reach outside of the HVAC comfort zone (no pun intended). It goes beyond equipment and the BMS system but understanding how IoT- and cloud-based systems can bring the capabilities that allow for true predictive maintenance and better experiences in the building. This will lead to new ways of purchasing and servicing equipment.
MEM: How do the HVAC manufacturers benefit from the introduction of HVACaaS solutions? What would drive them to introduce service offerings?
Mike Garceau: Getting closer and closer to the end user will reap benefits for manufacturers. Understanding the customer experience from install through the day-to-day experience in the spaces that are controlled by your product allows for a better understanding of what problems exist and the solutions that will continue to support more efficient, comfortable, and safe buildings.
MEM: How do equipment owners benefit from HVAC companies introducing service offerings? Why should they care about HVACaaS?
Mike Garceau: Having the experts available to serve the products and applications they know best will create the ability to predictably maintain systems, keep the occupants comfortable and safe, the learning curve flattens out because products become more intuitive and the experts are available when they are needed.
MEM: What exciting new solutions did Honeywell introduce at AHR this year?
Mike Garceau: We’re excited about our latest IP controller offerings, the CIPer line of controllers. They enable ubiquitous, extensive data collection to support on-board or cloud-based analytics to reduce operating expenses, maximize facility energy efficiency, and provide asset management capabilities with predictive maintenance reducing unplanned equipment failures while maximizing asset lifespan.
MEM: Were there any particularly exciting new technologies or trends at this year’s conference that left an impression?
Mike Garceau: The trend of moving away from proprietary protocols and systems is really exciting as it opens the door for more and bigger innovations and integrations to allow for better customer experiences, including remote connectivity to the cloud.
To learn more about the benefits of smarter, more connected devices, click HERE to download a complimentary copy of the eBook, “The HVAC as a Service Revolution.”