Pre-Covid lead-times for applied HVAC equipment used to be easy. 6 to 8 weeks for some rooftops, a few weeks longer for AHUs and complex fan systems. COVID and supply chain craziness wrecked all that reliable supply. Now, a large HVAC supplier has lead times on products that look like elephant gestation periods! (18 months, google it)
Our Yaskawa line of drives has improving delivery dates, but still out from what they used to be, the reason? Tiny components! Chip makers have been catching up on demand that frankly caught them by surprise.
We recently helped a chocolate factory with a drive problem, and sourcing a drive was trickier than usual, but we solved the problem. Thanks Yaskawa!
I hear from our suppliers in general that supply chain problems are getting better, and a year from now we won’t be talking about lead time problems. Until then plan ahead and expect the unexpected!
The KISS method is one of my favorite acronyms, keep it simple stupid. It is not about insulting a contractor about their knowledge, it’s about making things easy. Decades ago the PENN electric switch company, bought by Johnson Controls in the 1980s, made a line voltage thermostat that required no outside power to operate. No internet of things, no calibration or BSME required to operate it.
We needed an thermostat to operate a Loren Cook Gemini exhaust fan to remove hot air in a lobby where we installed a condensing unit. The VRF unit is inside for demonstration purposes and when the training room need a lot of cooling we need to exhaust the heat outside. The Penn thermostat simply turns on the fan when the room gets above 78F. Simple 120V one wire current interruption when room temp is OK, engages when the room gets hot. So simple!
Congrats to the ACI Mechanical and HVAC team for their recognition as an Ambassador of Energy Efficiency. The award comes from engineers and contractors recognizing the contribution that our team has made. Recognition is my love language, just ask my wife Margaret!
We love helping building owners save energy, and our mission statement “Helping Building Thrive” says it in three words.
“You can’t sell from an empty wagon”, said Bob Nichols, the owner of Allied Refrigeration in Long Beach, CA told me when I was a young sales engineer at Johnson Controls. It was 1989 and I was blown away with this distributor’s high value, high service model. Bob passed in 2012, but his words stuck with me.
Thirty years later, as I get to make decisions with our leadership team about how to service customers, it is clear to me that being a hybrid manufactures rep and commercial HVAC distributor works. We increased our on-hand inventory over $1M as supply chain disruptions ran up the lead-times for products. It turned out to be a great idea to buffer longer lead-times with real on-hand products. We are selling more of nearly all of our products because we actually have it.
We at ACI Mechanical solve cold office worker problems for our contractor and owners all the time. Here are 3 tips to make a difference for cold work spaces.
Change the airflow patterns of diffusers and grilles
Many ceiling diffusers or grilles have the ability to be adjusted or closed down. Many designs have maximum airflow rates that are over designed for actual building usage. Facility engineers (or you with a ladder) can reduce the total airflow directed toward occupants. Change the diffuser from a fixed style to adjustable to have a choice.
2. Install VAV Diffusers to control local zones without extra wiring
We installed a 10″ neck Acutherm Thermafuser in a small conference room at ACI Mechanical in Seattle, changing the room from freezing cold to a perfect 72 degrees. It took a ladder, a new Panduit strap to connect the existing flex duct to the new diffuser, and an Thermafuser to solve the problem. It was a 10 minute installation, before picture shown:
3. Use Preheat strategies on thermostats and building controls for morning warm-up
We use our Verasys building control system by Johnson Controls to preheat the building at 5am, before the first worker arrives at 5:30am in Seattle. This gives the three rooftops the ability to “catch-up” from a weekend of unoccupied setpoints.
Changing the way air flows in a building can make a difference for occupant comfort all year long. It is worth the time and effort!
HVAC product exhibit halls were busy with people at the opening day Jan 31, 2022. It was great to connect with industry leaders and talk business.
Big manufacturers like Johnson Controls, Carrier, and Daikin had large booths with the latest equipment. They were packed with mask wearing engineers and contractors. We had no fewer than 20 different meetings with factory reps outside of the expo and in. No where else can I go and get that all done expect to AHR!
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a popular song written by Frank Loesser in 1944 and popularized in the 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter, says Wikipedia. Dean Martin made it great, and now John Legend makes it modern. I love this old school image below.
But that’s not the point, I am talking about staying warm inside with air distribution and how we make buildings feel great. We have Price Industries linear slot diffusers to separate cold windows from work spaces; smart, high performance heat pumps that far outperform electric heaters, like 3 to 1 better, and big fans that push warm air down from the ceiling in a large building. It is fascinating stuff, how a machine can effectively make you quietly comfortable. Take Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle for example:
Heat rises, the air molecules are lighter than cold air because they are farther apart from each other. When you get the warm air circulating with cold air, life gets better for the occupant. Even though it’s cold outside we at ACI Mechanical and HVAC Sales know how to use science to make people comfortable!
I am always learning new things from others in the HVAC business. For example, at the SMACNA Annual Convention this week I learned a lot from Steve Taylor. He is probably one of the smartest engineers in our business. He balances practicality and energy savings with high building performance. Here is a slide from the conference where he aggregates the real causes of COVID transmission:
The summary: Vaccines work, and keep your distance if you can. Also, adding lots of outside air to a building really does not have any effect on transmission! This was a surprise to me, but his explanation of the science proved it.
My point of this blog is two fold,
1. If you don’t go, you don’t know. I was not expecting to learn what I did from Steve Taylor.
2. Relationships matter, we all know it, but going and talking with others in our commercial HVAC business helped all in attendance. Thanks SMACNA for an outstanding event.
Growth is happening at a quick rate in the Pacific Northwest. Natural beauty is all over the place. It costs more to live here, but people want to be around the mountains and water.
Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Boeing, and a host of others want to be where high quality employees can be found. We have seen high costs in construction, yet the work keeps coming.
Supply chain disruptions and steel prices contribute to the higher prices here, and expectations are the increase level off. My friend who leads a large retailer supply chain group says it might not get better until 2023!
At least I get to work through these problems in a beautiful place.