Daikin Applied has invested more than $1 billion in technology over the last 18 months. This commitment was on full display as the global manufacturer welcomed more than 1,100 individuals to its biennial customer appreciation event, Sept. 18-20, in Orlando, Florida.
At the multifaceted event, attendees gained an up-close look at a number of innovative Daikin products, gained insight from a number of industry expert-led presentations, networked through a round of golf at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club, and more.
Since its beginning as a small Japanese startup in 1924, Daikin has grown to become one of the largest HVAC manufacturers worldwide, boasting $18 billion in sales and more than 60,000 employees, said Mike Schwartz, CEO of Daikin Applied Americas Inc.
“Over the last nine years, we’ve focused our attention on the North American markets, including the purchase of McQuay in 2006, which launched our global applied business,” said Schwartz, during the event’s opening session. “We continue to feel the Americas offer an exceptional growth opportunity.”
Schwartz said growth in North America will be fueled by three growth drivers.
“The first is bold and insightful leadership. Chairman [Noriyuki] Inoue is a true leader and is helping Daikin grow dynamically. The second is people-centered management, which is a base principle of our organization. We’re focused on unleashing the potential of every individual in the organization. Through that, the business will grow and develop. And, lastly, we continue to be driven through an unwavering commitment to technology.”
This commitment is demonstrated through new infrastructure being built worldwide. The company’s 10-story, 500,000-square-foot Technology Innovation Center in Osaka, Japan, opened Nov. 25. The $400 million structure houses more than 700 engineers and functions as a training ground for overseas engineers to perform ongoing research and development.
“At this center, we’re bringing together some of the best minds in the world to tackle current challenges and provide innovative solutions to future challenges,” said Schwartz.
Construction on a 4-million-square-foot manufacturing and distribution center in Houston is expected to begin later this year. The facility is designed to reduce manufacturing costs and allow faster customization for U.S. consumers.
Daikin also announced a 300,000-square-foot addition to its San Luis Potosi, Mexico, facility. The company is in the process of transferring its applied terminal systems products to this location.
“We’re excited about what’s going on down there and intend to use it as a cornerstone for our production strategies,” said Schwartz.
Schwartz concluded his keynote speech by sharing four pillars the company is utilizing to drive transformational change.
“We continue to strive to deliver first-in-class quality, retain a laser focus on customer satisfaction, continue our accelerated investment in technology, and create a market-driven organization,” he said. “We’re broadening our scope from purely an equipment manufacturing company into a broader solutions provider.”
Through its Intelligent Equipment™ control solution, Daikin is helping contractors and building owners identify and assess comfort problems more efficiently and accurately.
Intelligent Equipment provides real-time data streams for benchmarking performance and monitoring system operation. Remote diagnostics and controls help reduce operating costs and improve system reliability.
“Our Intelligent Equipment puts us at the forefront of analytic-wireless capability and allows us to link our equipment to provide useful information in areas like default diagnostics,” said Schwartz. “If there’s something wrong with the equipment, building managers have traditionally had to call someone to come out and figure out what’s wrong. However, we can now provide a tech with data that indicates there’s a plugged filter or low refrigerant charge, which makes the entire process much more efficient. Our equipment allows building operators to stay ahead of catastrophic failures.”
Kevin Facinelli, executive vice president, Daikin Applied, said the company is determined to dig deeper and utilize data to identify the actual assets that cause such failures and prevent them.
“If the equipment itself can understand and diagnose what’s going on, it has the ability to resolve the problem itself or to alert an individual, on-site or off-site, of exactly what the issue is,” he said. “We can now transport diagnostic data directly to a service tech so he can arrive prepared with the right parts. This allows him to rapidly restore the equipment and help the customer get back up and running as efficiently as possible.”
MICROTECH INTEGRATED SYSTEMS
In addition to its Intelligent Equipment system, Daikin exhibited an array of solutions designed to integrate technology into commercial HVAC equipment.
Daikin’s MicroTech Integrated System (MIS) is an intuitive building controls system that monitors building operation and immediately alerts users when an abnormality occurs. MIS is currently available on Daikin VAV systems; SmartSource™ water-source heat pumps; and outdoor equipment, including the Rebel, Maverick II, and RoofPak rooftop units.
Daikin reps said the MIS, which was released in late 2010, is exceeding customers’ expectations.
“MIS has allowed us to add cutting-edge usability and functionality to our products,” said Paul Rauker, vice president and general manager, Daikin Applied. “We’re integrating external data within our equipment and encouraging facility managers to experiment with the data in a number of ways. It’s as easy as turning it on and getting it running, and it’s all accomplished under one platform.”
Chad Senger, product manager, Daikin Applied, said the MIS simplifies the building comfort equation.
“Formerly, the solution consisted of dozens of independent thermostats. If you wanted to turn down the temperature on a Saturday or Sunday, you had to manually set them back. Now, building managers can review alarms to ensure the equipment is operating adequately, review set point temperatures, or gain a more in-depth look at the equipment through graphs and tables — all through their cellphones,” he said. “This type of system has proven to cut up to 25 percent off an energy bill and saves operators significant time.
“And, the system is designed to be installed by a mechanical contractor, not a controls contractor, further adding to its cost-effectiveness,” continued Senger. “This is an emerging market, and MIS is absolutely a game changer. We’re showing people there are alternatives to thermostat control that don’t carry the first cost and risk associated with a traditional BMS [building management system].”
PATHFINDER AIR-COOLED SCREW CHILLER
The air-cooled chiller market is growing, and Daikin is capitalizing on that market through its Pathfinder air-cooled screw chiller line.
Available in 170- to 350-ton sizes, the redefined Pathfinder chiller features a fully variable-speed design, incorporating variable-speed drives on all of the compressors and an optional dc, variable-speed condenser fan motor, which further improves part-load performance.
“The air-cooled chiller market is up about 14 percent this year. The market will only continue to grow due to air-cooled technology’s simplicity, ease of maintenance, and ability to rival the efficiency of water-cooled systems,” said Eddie Rodriguez, director of product planning, Daikin Applied. “Water is becoming very scarce in some areas, further strengthening the future of air-cooled systems. Previously, the trade-off with air-cooled systems was that they weren’t as efficient as water-cooled chillers. Now, technology is evolving, and the price of variable speed is coming down. Couple this with much easier maintenance and rising operational efficiencies, and it’s easy to see why air-cooled chillers are becoming more popular.”
Rodriguez added that Daikin has the ability to customize nearly any chiller for any application. “We can mix and match compressor sizes, evaporator sizes, etc., based on what the customer wants. Previously, if you bought a 200-ton unit, there was only one option regarding the components. Now, with many options available, air-cooled units are a very customizable product.”
For more information on Daikin Applied, visit www.daikinapplied.com.
Publication date: 1/25/2016