When it comes to technology in the mechanical room we often greet the unknown with cautious optimism and ambivalence.
"I've been dong it this way for 30 years and I've never had a problem!" is one recurring voice. "Since I've installed this @#%* I've been back here every night for two weeks on a service call!" "Why can't we go back to the way things used to be... SIMPLE!"
The fact is, we never go back to the way things used to be; but that doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. Consider your home. How would you like to be watching to your favorite TV show on a black and white tube type TV set with the rabbit ears (a Grumman product)? It worked didn't it? It was simple enough to fix yourself.
How about that Encyclopedia Britannica that used to line your bookshelves?You know the one I mean don't you? It's the one the salesman sold you for $3,500.00 and you had to get the update every year for an additional $250.00 to keep the set current.
Or the road maps you used to use that were five years old and didn't have half the streets in it. They were simple to use weren't they? You just followed the lines and got to where you were going.
The fact is we DO live in the 21st century and we now have plasma high definition televisions with real time signals transmitted from around the world through satellite links. We have wireless Internet with boundless sources of information at our fingertips available 24/7. We have satellite navigation global positioning systems in our boats and cars and yes, even strapped to our wrists to tell us exactly where we are and where we are going from any point on earth (or beyond).
Why then should we remain in the 20th century when it comes to our mechanical rooms? The answer is not only that we should not; we simply cannot afford to be!
As advanced a civilization as we are, we still rely heavily on our finite supply of natural resources to properly condition the indoor environment. Like it or not, until we develop an improved ability to utilize renewable and sustainable energy sources we will continue to depend on natural resources such as fossil fuels which are costly and finite. Consequently, we have no choice but to improve the efficiency of the equipment with which we consume those resources by way of technology.
Those technologies might include highly integrated control systems or streamlined mechanical processes. Just because they are different from what you are used to seeing or working on does not mean they are "too complicated to be practical".
The answer lies in education. How many times have we heard that over the years? My grandmother used to tell me as a child "The three most important things in life are good health, good family and a good education" she'd rant. Her words remain timeless.
If I had to identify the one common ingredient that plagues our industry it is the absence of young talent. We need to encourage young minds about the importance of our industry. We need to reach out to our youth at all levels of education. We need to entice them with the promise of a good living and the pride in knowing the significant contribution they are making to society and to mankind.
For those who have been serving in our industry for many years I remind you that education is an on-going process. Why do you suppose the ceremony at a graduation is considered a "commencement"? We are just beginning our education at that point.
Many manufacturers and manufacturers' representatives host educational programs on the newest available technologies. You must take advantage of every opportunity to familiarize yourself with the latest advancements in the industry. It will increase your own value.
The single most common problem encountered in the field today is an improperly commissioned system. The day of plug and play in the mechanical room has been gone for a long, long time. We are controlling and monitoring many m o r e points than ever before. Most systems are microprocessor based and in most cases, those microprocessors need to be programmed in the field. This issue is not isolated to boilers and burners, it transverses the entire HVAC and plumbing industry.
Every computer room air-conditioner (if it is a precision cooling unit) is controlled by a microprocessor. Most lead/lag systems are now microprocessor based. Try buying a flame safeguard that works off tubes and relays anymore. In less than a year you are going to start seeing fuel cells in computer room racks as a means of uninterruptible power supply!
Most burner manufacturers have introduced parallel positioning system options and there are hundreds of them already installed in the field. It won't be long before all combustion systems have this technology as a standard. Installing contractors MUST become familiar with this technology if they are going to be commissioning these systems. To do otherwise would be an exercise in futility.
When President Kennedy promised the world that we'd put men on the moon and return them home safely before the end of the '60's he wasn't thinking about using the technology from a Boeing 707. We must accept and embrace the constant of change in technology as we continue to evolve as a society.
— Frank Morgigno
"They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night."
— Edgar Allan Poe