Exclusive Interview with Jay Nelson, Senior Director, Applied Development Center, Daikin Applied

IoT, Cloud and Automation have changed the ways HVAC systems are being manufactured, monitored, and controlled in ways that were never imagined a decade ago. A company which stands as a global leader in designing and manufacturing energy-efficient commercial HVAC systems by leveraging advanced technologies is Daikin Applied. We spoke to Jay Nelson, Senior Director, Applied Development Center of the company to understand how it uses data and innovation to build intelligent products and solutions.


Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization and the services that your company offers.

Daikin Applied Americas designs and manufactures technologically advanced commercial and industrial HVAC solutions for customers around the world. No two buildings are alike and neither are their HVAC systems. Our highly configurable products allow us to create a unique solution for each customer. As a division of Daikin Industries, headquartered in Japan, we are the only HVAC solutions provider that designs and provides HVAC equipment, service, solutions, filters and refrigerants, giving us a unique advantage and sharp focus on innovating in the HVAC marketplace.


Mention some of the awards, achievements, recognitions and clients’ feedback that you feel are notable and valuable for the company.

We have been a leader in the applied HVAC field since we entered the US market over 12 years ago. We were the first to launch a magnetic bearing compressor in our Magnitude® centrifugal chiller, the first to offer variable volume refrigerant technology in our Pathfinder® air-cooled chiller, and the first to offer IoT-enabled technology in our controls solution, Intelligent Equipment®. Our innovations have earned awards from several industry organizations including AHR’s Innovation Award, Consulting Specifying Engineer’s Product of the Year, ACHR’s Dealer Design Award, and most recently from Frost & Sullivan where Intelligent Equipment was recognized for their 2019 Innovation Excellence Award for the Global Building Energy Management Solutions Industry.


What is your biggest USP that differentiates the company from competitors?

We have a really novel but commonsense way that we approach the data. Traditional BMS or BAS models (Building Management or Building Automation Systems) are designed for large buildings, over 100,000 square feet, and the systems are complex. Because they integrate many mechanical systems in the building, they require costly custom programming and become difficult to use. While building owners can get good insights, they frequently don’t get access to the actual data. Daikin has solved for all these problems, putting the customers first. In our IoT solutions, we make an unusual effort to not only give the customer access to the data but make the data understandable to the customer. Our solutions are simpler, more agile, easier to use, and way more affordable. That opens up access to BMS functionality to a whole new type of customer and gives the customer unprecedented visibility to their system management. Daikin is putting power back into the hands of the customers. We believe we are transforming the data paradigm in this industry.


How is IoT/Big Data/AI/Robotics evolving today in the industry as a whole? What are the most important trends that you see emerging across the globe?

The most important trend is the move to combine systems. In the past, we tended to have individual IoT systems that you buy from different vendors. Initiatives like Project Haystack will define how to store data so it can be commonly shared. Here’s an example: I have two different systems with separate data, HVAC and refrigeration. Today we may not understand all the ways these systems are related – but later we will. If I could combine data, I’ll have more control. Maybe I would take my refrigeration system offline for 15 minutes to save energy. We might make choices that today we don’t even consider. Putting all the data in one place even before we know how it should be used supports better decision-making this in the future.

The IoT will enable us to measure ALL the critical elements of a business. Today we typically have disparate systems. As we add the ability to measure things with the IoT, it’s all pulled back into building and energy management to improve performance. The critical need is to collect all the data and use it as a set to make building and energy management decisions holistically, not by independent variables.

Second, the BMS industry needs to adapt. Today it’s dependent on customization – engineering development and testing that are really expensive and time-consuming, and not affordable for many buildings. Daikin offers configuration, not customization. The configuration makes building performance management much more affordable, opening up the opportunity for BMS capabilities to smaller companies and buildings. Some states are driving energy management into smaller buildings, but the majority of buildings may have a difficult time to comply, given the price and complexity of BMS. Daikin can accommodate these companies today.


What are some of the challenges faced by your company today?

We’re working on combining IoT systems to work together. We want to find ways to combine the data via a cloud strategy. We can’t have a single database in the cloud that everything reports to – we have to combine data from multiple sources because we have disparate systems. We can’t force our vendors to use our systems. We need to provide the glue so customers get everything in one place.  As a company and an industry, we need to collaborate to determine how to support non-proprietary systems.


What is your Leadership Mantra?

Make sure your customers want to stay with you, not have to stay with you.

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