AHR Ultimate Adventure

Our expectations for AHR were exceptionally high this year. Innovation in the HVACR world has been moving at an exponential rate being driven by analytics, energy management and monitoring, and the race to the cloud. Many new product introductions delivered practical applications implementing these technologies, the educational sessions helped us learn about current and envisioned directions in the industry, and everywhere there was a buzz about the changes to come.

Change and innovation were evident way beyond the building automation showcase. Automation, new products, analytics, big data, and intelligence at the edge were evident in the Software Showcase and throughout the show floor. One of the trends gaining momentum is the moving of field devices to the IP network. Traditionally, this has been the domain of serial networks, an economical choice. With new demands for data volumes required to implement smart buildings, it is inevitable that this move to the IP network must continue.

Attending the AHR Expo each year gives us the opportunity to renew connections and relationships and to meet face to face with those people who we had only known electronically. The fact that the AHR Expo rotates locations each year gives us the opportunity to extend our stay and visit with S4 customers and partners in the area before and after the formal show. This year we had several events planned during our weeklong stay in Chicago.

Most exciting was the fact that our development partner, Klaus Obermeier, president of Obermeier Software, joined us from Germany for the show. This visit gave him the opportunity to more thoroughly understand and embrace the S4 Open branding, experience the way we train our partners, and really get to know the BAS industry.

On the day before the show opened, we held a custom S4 Boot Camp for our distributor partner Contemporary Controls. They graciously hosted the training session at the fabulous Chicago Union League Club. We compressed and customized the typical two-day Boot Camp into a five hour session for Contemporary Controls employees from the U.S., the U.K., China and Germany.

The fact that Contemporary Controls has already worked with several of their dealers to plan and implement S4 integration projects facilitated the customization and focus of the training. Klaus’ participation in the training brought a deeper understanding of the product design and architecture.

There are always many more after hours events than we can attend. We managed to make it to the ControlTrends awards dinner as invited guests of CGNA, one of our S4 parners. The BACnet International leadership dinner,

The New Deal open house, and the Reliable Controls reception. All were fantastic events and continued exposing Klaus to what makes the BAS industry tick.

Rounding out the week, I visited a customer site where I assisted with an update to the S4 technology. This visit gave me the opportunity to practice what I preach. Even though the S4 product had been previously installed, we started out the session by investigating the condition of the existing legacy devices, head end, and field bus. Then we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. Every time I visit a production installation, I
learn a little more about how our products are used and what the expectations of our customer and partner are. This visit was no exception.

On Monday morning after we returned to our office, we held a wrap-up session with Klaus from his office in Germany. Klaus summed up his AHR experience, “as you know, I really enjoyed the show, especially meeting the people in person. I saw a lot of exciting things and even more how our product offering can complement them.” Klaus enjoyed his experience at AHR so much that he put AHR 2019 on his calendar before he headed home. Now that speaks volumes.

This year’s AHR experience and lessons learned at the show have culminated in a streamlining of the S4 product directions and renewed enthusiasm and energy leading us into future.