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The Super Engineer
The word 'heesh' used below means "he/she". Plase make the necessary mental adjustment.
By a super engineer we mean a highly trained and confident business person that is fully empowered in all aspects of a Fire Alarm or HVAC system or business, or for that matter any business. This means that heesh is not just technically competent and has all the tools and resources necessary for a problem resolution. It also means that heesh is capable of estimating a complete solution totally independently and right on site without having to have any consultations with peers or superiors. It also means that heesh is able to and has the resources necessay or is capable of garnering them to actually deliever a SOLUTION estimated right on site.
This is quite a concept. So let us identify the different elements of this Super Engineers's personality and in the process we shall find that such a person is able to save the customer thousands of dollars, if not a lot more. It will also mean that the customer requirements are met and satisfied in the cost- effective fashion both for the benefit of the customer and the provider. It will also fall out from the discussion that the companies having such persons have or will have a better chance to succeed in the market place.
Elements of the personality of a Super Engineer
The Estimation Capability
This engineer can estimate a fire alarm or HVAC control job (new or retrofit) totally independently and without referring to complex manuals and engineering diagrams and printouts and yet does that on a totally competitive bases and can do this in short order and without involving a whole bunch of people such as a "project team".
This is a critical capability. When a proposal is built the customers want to know rightaway the estimate for the cost of a project. This is natural on their part as they need to know this for planning and other reasons such as comparing competitive options.
The Technical Capability
The super engineer is not just able to work with a particular system but in fact can work with a whole range of systems and subsystems to deliver a comprehensive solution for the customers that have a pattern of systems and not just a prticular system. In particular, the engineer is aware of data transmission capabilites across related or unrelated systems.
The Resource Capability
This consists of the folowing capabilites:
1. The engineer has access to all technical information and does not need training to get to the right piece of inforamtion in the documentaion and can wade through the documentaion entirely on heesh own and is comfortable locating and determining the right information for heesh purposes.
2. The engineer can gather togethr all human and material resources to deliver the collective ovr-all job. The enginer knows all internal and external procedures of heesh company to garner all resources required for the job.
3. The enginer has the resoureces to detremine the time-line for the completion, test and checkout and final delivery of the final job.
4. The engineer has the business acumen to call upon other contractors and external resources needed for job copmpletion and can marshall external resources in the most expeditious and cost- effetive fashion.
As you can see if a company has such engineers they can perform the job completion in the most effective fashion and that will transform easily into a win-win situation for the cusomer and the provider.
Consequences of the Super Engineer Concept:
There are many consequenes of this and these consequnces you can see in the todays' market place:
1. You can see that the "Super Engineer" is not something that one can just train a person into, although training is a great help, the concept is more the product of experience than any thing else and hence will be an expensive proposition. Such a capable person cannot be too cheap to find and hire and hence can be an expensive approach for the companies of today that provide such services. Therfore, we have consequence number 2.
2. Todays' companies and providers are operating with the margin priniciple and just about have to in order to survive in the market. So they will have to come up with alternatives to the Super Engineer concept of old. The new concept (and cheaper alternative) is and and has been for a while that controllers must be capable of self-configuration and must have applications that can be adjustd to the local site requirements without having to be rewrittn. Another force is the requiremts for extensive reporting to the central systems for analytical or State and Federal requirements. This has led to sandard communication protocols so that data transmission can be provided to diverse systems and front ends for reporting and control purposes. That is why you see so many LON mark compliant devices and Bacnet systems with standard controllers for most control applications. The configuration of these standard controllers does not require a "Super Engineer". Just a trained entry level person trained in the particular standard platform and (not much else) can and will deliver the job! This has consequence numbner 3.
3. It is becsue of the changes in approach to the control problems that we see applications and systems that are all pre-progrmmed and all they need are "engineers" that can just configure the parameters for the applicaitons without having to write the applications themselves. Not only that but systems can communicate across platforms so that the "new" engineer" is hardly an "engineer" and is really an "integrator" that can interface different technologies and and applications together. Which leads to consequence number 4.
4. If you have a legacy system, the modern "integrators" are not going to be able to help since the applications are written particularly for the site and require special engineering tools to trouble shoot or repair the relevant systems. At most the modern integrator will be able to supply the hardware for replacement, assuming that is the problem, and it may not be. So for legacy systems you will have serious problems in that the competent persons versed in those systems may not be readily available and that leads to consequnce number 5.
5. The suppliers of new systems will not be able to service those legacy systems and hence you will hear the constant mantra "upgrade". Also, the current State and Federal requirements and even the internal owner company requirements may not call for the extensive reporting capabilites that are the hallmak of new systems(and touted a lot) and a big selling point. So under the current conditins it may( and generally is) be quite worthwhile to repair and service the existing legacy system and postpone the extenisve outlays required by the "upgrades". The calculating companies will find out that the best approach for them is the repair and service of their system and not the upgrade which may not be totally called for jsut NOW. And contary to the general assumptions, most parts for the legacy system are fully available and configurable and repairable. This leads to consequnce number 6.
6. CITS has all, resources for the legacy systems and can configure/engineer and re- engineer all of them right at your site and so if you are not ready for an upgrade just yet, can help you in the most cost-effective fashnion. Call (651)442-9044 for any service on any of your legacy systems.
Riaz Hussain, Automation Systems Specialist
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