Interview -July 2001
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Thomas Zaban, Vice President, Marketing Reliable ControlsKen Sinclair and  Tom Zaban 

A world of opportunity and a world of change is a fitting way to describe today's controls industry and business at Reliable Controls Corporation. With many new hardware and software products being released, Reliable Controls Corporation is expanding to better serve our global clients. Facilitating growth and development in manufacturing secures Reliable Control Corporation's long-term and valuable position in the international building automation systems industry

Our September Issue will deal with Industry Restructuring. Is it happening?

Sinclair - Browser based presentation of all industry information appears to be the now trend. Do you have any concerns?

Zaban:  Not to date. We are well along the path to releasing RC-WebView - our browser based application for access to the MACH-Net Building Automation System, and I am sure once we release the product this winter, we will have plenty to discuss. It certainly "appears" there are groups who want this technology. Perhaps one concern I have is that we will deliver the product but the demand will not actually materialize. A potential barrier to demand for browser related technology in BAS "may" manifest as a result of poor communications between the traditional HVAC players (operators, contractors, engineers) and the traditional IT players (telcom contractors, IT consultants, managers of IT and security). For manufacturers to successfully sell browser based solutions to the HVAC industry we need to involve the human domain of IT. How do we do that successfully? Advertise in "Wired" magazine?

Sinclair - As our industry rapidly migrates towards Information Technology type presentation and procedures are there concerns that we may lose our industry identity?

Zaban:  Good question. I'm not sure if "lose" is the correct way to characterize the impact. In consideration of the concern in your previous question, I believe our industry will need to "enhance" its identity by 1) becoming more knowledgeable of the IT world, and then 2) making the necessary investments to acquire the capabilities to do business in a wired world. Every HVAC organization has a website (manufacturer, wholesaler, contractor, advertiser, association), sure, that's easy, but do they do e-commerce? Do they offer web training? How many of our HVAC products operate by voice recognition, or use wireless peripheral devices? As open protocols start to truly become open, the latest technologies in our cars and appliances will migrate to HVAC also and yet another layer of technology will require investment and integration. I don't think we will lose our identity, I think we will invest to "evolve" into something modern, something better. Definitely not Robert Deniro in the movie Brazil.

Sinclair - Online eDucation and eLearning are growing. Are they enough to keep our industry in touch?

Zaban:  If you ask that question to any University today, I bet you'd hear "" there can never be "enough" when it comes to education"". We all want to learn more and become better at what we do in our every day lives. Web based and distance learning are offered in every major learning institution in North America, but the web is not a replacement for leader-led learning. The web offers convenience, leader-led offers impact.

Sinclair - Is our industry positioned to accept daily convergence opportunities?  By convergence I was thinking about the convergence of technologies and procedures used by other industries.

Zaban:  Our industry is not unlike all the other industries that exist. Manufacturers, distributors, consultants, analysts, advertisers, educators, installation contractors, service contractors and operators. To make the internet and email happen we rely on convergence. We all use it every day.

Sinclair - Our September Issue will deal with Industry Restructuring.  Is it happening?

Zaban:  Let's see, from a controls perspective in the last two years, Seimens buys Landis, Seimens buys Staefa, Electrowat buys Seimens, Siebe buys, Ranco, RobertShaw, Paragon etc and becomes Invensys, Honeywell gets bought by Allied then is chopped up and sold off, CSI gets gobbled up by TAC and disappears. I see the controls industry going through a major shake down. Those who made incorrect technology investments or no technology investments are being harvested then digested. Think of the amount of computers we've all purchased in the last 10 years. We are all investing and restructuring to keep up.

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