B Surendar | Editor, Climate Control Middle East
The leadership in the GCC region is strongly driving socio-economic and sustainable development. UAE Vision 2021 is an example, as is Qatar National Vision 2030. What is Johnson Controls doing to introduce technological solutions that would help the region achieve its goals?
Johnson Controls has been a prominent member and a part of the Middle East for many years, building products and offering solutions, that meet our customer needs. We have ensured that we conform to the UAE Vision 2021, Qatar Vision 2030, as well as others in the GCC region and Africa.
Market feedback for us is very critical because, this helps us customise our products and services according to customer needs and requirements. We also ensure that we address the environmental sustainability needs of the UAE, Qatar or any other GCC country, by introducing products that are environmentally friendly. We have recently launched a brand-new line of chillers with environmentally friendly refrigerants. We are already advancing into a new line of technology, like VRF, and driving energy efficiency within buildings. We are also studying our controls portfolio and exploring methods of optimising energy within a facility, through our cloud-centric VMS platforms.
Building efficiency has gained substantial attention in the region in the last 10 years. and now, we are witness to a fledgling building-retrofit movement, plus initial interest in net-zero-energy buildings and smart cities. How is your company aligning itself with this? What cutting-edge technologies has it got on the anvil?
We do guarantee savings to customers who adapt to retrofitting their building controls, HVAC equipment and lighting to be more energy efficient. We also help customers achieve their zero emission footprints with our fire and safety retrofits, as well as our building management systems, and merging everything into a single platform with connected technology.
Technology is only as good as how it is installed. We have seen numerous instances of BMS not being installed properly, which is counterproductive. In view of that, what is the follow-up mechanism and philosophy of Johnson Controls to serve the interests of building owners and the country in its quest for greater energy efficiency and indoor air quality (IAQ), to cite two virtues?
We always aim to foster a close customer relationship with all our customers and serve them through direct or indirect mediums. Even through our channel partners, who are installing our controls platform from within a building, we establish a smooth flow of communication with the end-user, ensuring their satisfaction with our products and services.
The driving force behind these products is the result of this joint venture, bearing in mind the needs of the Middle East consumers
Additionally, we also conduct training programmes for all our direct and indirect channel partners and make sure that they are aware of the latest technology. Our in-depth training modules cover topics on installation of our controls and optimisation of software within a building. We will also be launching programmes that would essentially allow us to better ensure that equipment and software are installed properly. Through smart equipment technology, the devices will transfer data to the BMS. This data will be shared with customers via an online, user-friendly platform, giving them an insight into the progress of the equipment. This will also challenge us to ensure that the building is truly operating at its optimal conditions, improve equipment reliability and lifespans, improve efficiency, reduce downtime and prevent problems from occurring. We will also be offering customers suggestions on how they can improve the optimisations.
What is your expectation from regulations? When is too much regulation an impediment to product development? How can we balance things out, so we can protect the consumer by keeping prices reasonable, considering that an overly regulated market would mean more investment in R&D and materials?
Over the last 24 months, I have observed that tremendous changes have occurred across the GCC and the region. These changes have caused us as manufacturers to transition from having one portfolio for the entire GCC region to country-specific portfolios. We now have unique portfolios that serve every regulated residential market in the GCC region.
The energy regulations are moving in the right direction, and sustainable environment is one of our core platforms. However, the regulations need to be implemented in different phases, thus ensuring that there are no disruptions of services for our end-users, yet serving the needs of the country. Hence, there is a balance between having a gradual move towards a more energy efficient system as opposed to a drastic change, which essentially causes the consumer to suffer.
Johnson Controls is investing heavily in technology in order to be able to serve these regulations. We have commissioned a team to specifically work in close collaboration with governments and offer practical suggestions that are sophisticated, environmentally friendly, and yet not having large cost implications for the end-user.
Are there any concerns that you as a supplier have, besides what you have just stated with regards to regulations?
We understand the needs of the Middle East, both from a regulatory perspective and the needs of a consumer. For us, it is necessary, because we are part of this environment, and believe in sustainability as much as the governments do. However, it does come at a cost. So, Johnson Controls does have to really monitor all those regulations and choose where we make our investments. Hence, it does propose challenges, but they are challenges that we select and we selectively invest in, in order to still continue to be a player in the Middle East market.
We are exploring methods of optimising energy within a facility through our cloud-centric VMS platforms
What is the progress of the Johnson Controls-Hitachi joint venture?
Our joint venture with Hitachi is a moment of pride for us at Johnson Controls because of its success in the Middle East and Africa. We are in the process of combining our efforts, our legacy at Johnson Controls as well as with the Hitachi team, in order to really put together a team that is focused on the next generation technology.
We will be launching new highly efficient products that will be market leaders in the GCC region, across the Middle East and Africa. The driving force behind these products is the result of this joint venture, bearing in mind the needs of the Middle East consumers.
Hitachi has already significantly built relationships in the Middle East, which have now come under Johnson Controls. We are collectively working with the channel members of Hitachi to understand their needs and explore ways to improve these relationships.
With regards to another exciting merger with Tyco, how does it place you as a global provider? Does it encompass the entire range of Tyco?
Johnson Controls has acquired the entire portfolio of Tyco in order to enhance our services. With this acquisition, we can now service every system in a building, uniquely positioning ourselves above our competitors.
We possess expertise not just on low-voltage or technology-side, such as security or fire alarm or safety and building controls, but we also have some of the best expertise in the world on mechanical equipment. This combination will propel us to offer our customers more energy-efficient technology and services.