So said past executives from the 1970s and 1980s Copeland regime that joined the current Emerson Climate Technologies executive management team on Aug. 17 in Sidney, Ohio, to discuss the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Copeland Scroll compressor, which is officially Nov. 14.
Memories and challenges of the past were united with visions of the future as nearly 100 Emerson Climate Technologies staffers celebrated and welcomed back the executives who were charged with first bringing scroll technology to the market.
Prior officers Matthew Diggs, Robert Novello, and Dean Ruwe traveled to Sidney for a half day of video taping and interviews (withThe NEWSstaff) as part of the commemorative event and enjoyed a luncheon with Emerson management.
CEO Tom Bettcher, Scott Barbour, president Air Conditioning division, Emerson Climate Technologies, and Ed Purvis, president of Emerson Climate Technologies Refrigeration, were the primary hosts on behalf of the current management team. Two of them actually had real-time links to the prior regime. Purvis had been one of the product planners on the original launch team. Bettcher played an important role in Scroll’s commercialization and global expansion in the mid- to late 1990s.
INDUSTRY SIGNIFICANCEThough all industry celebrations or anniversaries deserve some recognition in their own right, not all can recount the impact that a single product had on an entire industry like Copeland Scroll development. The technology ushered in a new phase of energy efficiency for the residential HVAC industry and also became a standard in the commercial and refrigeration sectors as well.
Today, Emerson has an ongoing commitment to advancing its line of Scroll products. The technology is now being embraced outside the field of HVAC for other applications as widespread as medical and cryogenic uses.
FormerNEWSpublisher Mike Miller gave up a day of golf in Savannah to interview the former executive team of Novello, Diggs, and Ruwe, and the two current executives who had links to the early days, Bettcher and Purvis. Miller noted that coming out of the perfect storm of the 1970s, Copeland had been well-positioned for technology discovery. “The impact of the scroll really can’t be understated. It came at a time when government mandated regulations were really a high priority for this industry.”
Dean Ruwe agreed, “Thinking back on when we were developing scroll, around 1978 to 1979, the Carter Administration and the energy crisis played into Copeland’s hands because of the high-efficiency reciprocating (recip) compressor we had at the time.”
Just prior to the Copeland Scroll compressor launch in 1987, 100 percent of the industry was recip, 8 SEER product. Today, scroll compressors are used in 92 percent of all products that achieve the industry standard 13 SEER efficiency.
Interestingly enough, according to Ruwe, “Once again there is an energy crisis playing to Emerson’s current high-efficiency strategy.”
GET THE PARTY STARTEDDuring the morning event, the team of executives discussed the challenge that began nearly 25 years ago and culminated with the Scroll product launch in November of 1987. A luncheon followed that discussion, and the afternoon foundThe NEWS’current editor-in-chief Mike Murphy leading a second discussion with the Emerson Climate Technologies current executive management staff of Bettcher, Purvis, and Barbour. The threesome had fond memories of the historic Scroll technology project.
“Some of the notable surprises were the manner in which the Scroll handled refrigerant and the fact that it could actually run backwards. There was a fine line between extolling the virtues of the product and creating the perception that it was indestructible. I remember hearing stories of people overcharging and taking less precaution when designing a system because they had confidence that the Scroll would help compensate,” said Purvis. “However, it really taught us a great lesson in that whenever you bring a new technology to the market, you have got to bring it with your customer. If you are really going to capture the benefits, if you are really going to learn how to apply the technology, you’ve got to do it together. It taught us to learn how to work better with our customers.”
As the afternoon session continued, conversation turned to current challenges and how the company plans to capitalize on its experience in technology development. Bettcher said, “We have always been challenged to get the manufacturing capacity close to the demand. When Rheem Air Conditioning made the decision to go 100 percent Scroll in all of their products, it certainly was a stress point, but we got through it.”
The current leadership ac-knowledged that from those experiences the company learned that Copeland was very much a learning organization - not just a manufacturing organization.
Purvis said, “Scroll is clearly recognized as today’s leader in the marketplace, even though just 20 years ago there was a stigma associated with a rotating product. When I look back at the steep learning curve of the times, I sometimes think it was really like falling off of a cliff, but those experiences have prepared us to continue to lead the industry in technology.”
Discussing present technologies such as modulation and input from contractors, Barbour commented, “What the contractor wants is the ability to modulate the product, install and service it easily, and be able to get it right the first time. We worked through all of those things as we introduced our UltraTech product, in an effort to provide as much product differentiation for our customers as possible.”
Emerson Climate Technologies will officially kick off its 20th anniversary celebration of the Copeland Scroll compressor in a special Nov. 12 issue ofThe NEWSwith a complete wrap-up of the executive discussions from Sidney and a look into the future of technology with Emerson.