Consultants should consult us
Colin Goode, VRF Pre-sales Engineer for Fujitsu explains why consultants and specifiers have always been an important part of the air conditioning market.
Consultants and specifiers are independent advisors with the technical knowledge to clarify what can be a confusing subject to those outside the sector, with its mass of refrigerant alternatives and choices of units and control options. They are seen by end users as someone in their corner and are therefore vital to the prosperity of the whole industry.
Unfortunately, some manufacturers and distributors have not developed the type of working relationship with specifiers that would benefit both sides and the ultimate customer.
While consultants want to be seen by end users as maintaining scrupulous impartiality, most would welcome a closer relationship with manufacturers if they believed that it would add value to what they can offer their clients.
As manufacturers, it is in our interest to ensure we and distributors work much more closely with consultants, to the benefit of the industry and end users alike.
Consultants have a great deal of knowledge but no one knows their equipment like the manufacturers of those units. By working together we can provide the perfect complement to each other.
Like many market sectors the air conditioning industry continues to innovate. Every year manufacturers add new features, introduce new systems or change their existing products to meet the ever increasing quest for higher efficiency. This, added to ever changing industry legislation, makes keeping up to date with all the changes a difficult task.
This is where manufacturers and their distributors can help consulting engineers, design build contractors and air conditioning installation companies with pre-sales and after sales support.
Most manufacturers offer design and technical support for their systems, aimed at their own distributors, installers and consultants, but there is no reason this service cannot be extended to better suit the specific needs of consultants.
This can be via scheduled training courses, in-house continuous personal development presentations, or one to one assistance on a project by project basis. This assistance can help consultants with the correct application of the product or system and ensure that end users are happy and the environmental reputation of the industry is a good one.
Develop a relationship
In an ideal world, what we need is for suppliers to put much more emphasis on developing a strong relationship with consultants, to the point where they feel they can pick up the phone to contact a supplier and get all of the technical information they need.
At the moment it seems that consultants are expected to know all the technical data on, and have experience of, every product on the market, either in their heads or in their files. This is a tough task, but it is one where we as manufacturers can help ease the burden.
One of the areas we can definitely help with is ensuring that consultants, who have quoted with what they believe is the latest information, do not inadvertently quote with incomplete or out-of-date data, which can result in unnecessary delays on site while the right equipment is ordered, leading to extra costs that could have been avoided with better liaison.
Sometimes equipment that has been carefully chosen by specifiers for a particular job has to be changed at the last minute for various reasons beyond the consultant’s control. Because of the inevitable short timescales involved in revising plans and advice this is where suppliers of the new equipment can really help.
Manufacturers should be taking the lead in developing a relationship with specifiers to ensure that, after an initial independent survey of the market and the compilation of a short list, consultants and manufacturers can work together as closely as possible.
That way we can ensure that all their information is accurate and current. We can also advise on the best way to use the equipment, installation requirements, commissioning and many other issues. While one air conditioning unit can appear be very similar to another, there are significant differences. Sometimes these can be small issues, but they are problems that can delay projects if not realised in advance.
Additionally, we can provide CAD drawings for the proposed equipment to help with the design. Something that many contractors find very useful already, and it is a service we provide to consultants as well.
The relationship between suppliers and consultants is one that should not just be restricted to times when there is a live project. It is much better to absorb information in a steady structured way than trying to cram when there is a deadline approaching.
Like some other manufacturers, at Fujitsu we offer a wide range of standard product training courses at our Elstree offices. These can easily be tailored for individual requirements.
We also have numerous live systems which are used in some of the training courses and can be used for demonstration to customers and consultants on a one to one basis. We can also offer one to one lunchtime CPD type presentations for consulting engineers who may not have the time for conventional training.
All in all, the development of close, on-going, relationships between suppliers and consultants can only benefit both parties and, most importantly the industry as a whole and end users in particular.