HVAC System Manufacturers to Address Interoperability Issues
Nov 4, 2003
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Manufacturers of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) control systems in North America are working toward achieving interoperability between disparate building management systems and other equipment, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan.

The research firm said that the challenge is enormous, considering the looming power crisis, ever-changing customer requirements, and the ability of very few end users to completely revamp their existing HVAC systems.

The report reveals that this market generated revenues worth U.S. $552.0 million in 2002 and is likely to reach $783.6 million by 2009.

“Developing an open protocol and communications platform has become necessary as end users have incorporated integrated building management systems to meet high standards in energy efficiency, comfort requirements, and environmental pressures,” says Sathyanarayanan.V, Frost & Sullivan research analyst.

HVAC equipment manufacturers are compelled to develop viable, generic control solutions spanning across many generations and multitude of interfaces and gateways, the research firm said. End users can avoid huge upfront investment as these solutions are likely to enable step-by-step upgrades of their HVAC systems.

“The development of industry-wide common solution is highly difficult, as several HVAC manufacturers have invested heavily in a chosen protocol and therefore, cannot easily divest of that intellectual property,” noted Sathyanarayanan.V.

Manufacturers are also facing challenges in the form of changing customer requirements that demand continual improvements and sophisticated HVAC systems providing direct digital control (DDC), the firm reported. In addition, they have to comply with various standards for energy efficiency and air quality.
According to Frost & Sullivan, currently, the focus is not only on providing heating, cooling, or ventilation of a building at reasonable costs, but also to offer desired comfort levels, improved air quality, and superior energy efficiency -- a demanding task with the deepening power crisis, escalating energy costs, and initiation of many energy conservation practices.

The firm said that manufacturers need to develop and test flexible options in terms of equipment refurbishing, switching of energy sources, better zone control, energy recovery systems, or highly efficient new equipment to assist at peak loads or take over during low demands.

“With the retrofit markets growing faster than the new constructions market, options have to be designed for a wide range of installation designs,” said Sathyanarayanan.V. “This is likely to assist companies in increasing their market penetration when there are changes in economic and environmental conditions.”

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