The old axioms about change are old: “The only things in life that are certain are death, taxes, and change.” “The only constant is change.”
We need something new. How about “Change Sucks”? Of course it does; it happens rapidly, almost overnight. The boss says you’re going to open up a new department in 30 days — and you’re going to do it without hiring anyone new. Or a new technology just made your life turn upside down. If you think technology rocks your HVACR world occasionally — “What? You don’t need a multimeter for that anymore?” — then imagine that you had worked for Eastman Kodak in Longview, Texas, in 1994. “What? A phone is going to drive us into bankruptcy? We are going to be a chemical company, and not a camera company? That’s just crazy.”
Is any of this simply change, or is it evolution?
Any technology can and will hit us in the head like a brick if we are not constantly watching where our business is going instead of where our business has been. It’s easier to say that cameras will never go away; a phone will never take as good a photograph. For Kodak people, it was more attractive to believe in those who merely “suggested” that a phone technology was rife with death, destruction, or folly regardless of the proof to the contrary. Look no further than the current political social media commentary to find examples of thousands following, liking, and sharing pictures that really are fabricated by someone who had a little graphic training in Photoshop as a kid.
Now to Refrigerants
So, now to refrigerants. Even in the HVACR industry, there has been misunderstanding at best, misinformation at worst. Who is to say where this industry ends up regarding new refrigerant technologies? This is an evolving situation, not one that will hit us in the head like a brick one morning when we come into work. There are many among us who believe that there is no required change-out of HFC refrigerants pending in the near future — that it is simply non-existent. They are wrong. Just hoping that the constant and tiring refrigerant evolution will all go away is not a solution. And resisting evolution by conjuring up information to support an opinion or preference is not a fair approach. A suggestion from The ACHR NEWS: Don’t believe everything you read — except, of course, in our own pages.
Flashback: 1992. I’m standing outside on the back dock of an R&D facility of a major HVACR manufacturer, smoking a cigar with one of their engineers. As the conversation turns to advanced refrigerants at a time when the Montreal Protocol had earlier announced R-22 as the latest environmental culprit, I ask about hydrocarbons. The engineer tells me we just lit up standing next to a propane test unit that almost nobody in the company knew they had in operation. I immediately ran to the other side of the dock as the engineer casually drew on the stogie.
Every manufacturing company will eventually come down on one side or the other, or maybe there will be three or four sides. You can bet that each one will be representing the savior of our industry, albeit somewhat at the expense and semi-hopeful demise of their competitors. You can also bet that every one of them had experimented on the back dock with all of the alternatives because they had not yet found the answer that best suited their technical and marketing differentiation requirements. When they pull back the curtain, they will provide reliable products. In the meantime, let’s all try to stick to the facts.
There are currently two major manufacturers that have committed early on a refrigerant of choice. They will undoubtedly catch a lot of flak as is the custom for leaders in our industry. Who’s next?