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EMAIL INTERVIEW – Robert Hemmerdinger and Ken Sinclair
Robert Hemmerdinger, Chief Sales and Marketing
Delta Controls, Inc.
Creating a Touchless Office Environment
With the O3 Sensor Hub, you have a ceiling-mounted device that controls all the various aspects of a space – lights, temperature, AV equipment and more – through voice commands or personal smart devices.
Tell us about Delta Controls and the technologies you offer.
Hemmerdinger: Delta Controls is a global leader in Building Automation Systems (BAS) and subsidiary of Delta Electronics, best known for its power and thermal management solutions. Delta Controls has more than 300 distributors and thousands of installations that span more than 80 countries. We have led the industry for 30 years, with a focus on innovation and sustainability.
We’re really excited about our O3 Sensor Hub 2.0, which won the AHR Expo Innovation Award earlier this year. The O3 Sensor Hub combines a complete array of sensors into a single compact device that can be mounted onto the ceiling for a top-down view. It detects motion, sound, light and temperature with unparalleled accuracy – offering Building Automation Systems the data necessary to optimize occupant comfort and reduce operating costs.
Sinclair: With employee health at the forefront for many organizations today, do you think the open-office will be phased out?
Hemmerdinger: While we cannot predict the future, moving away from an open-office is much more complicated than it sounds. Realistically, you cannot start erecting walls to compartmentalize spaces. Adding walls to an open layout would restrict the airflow through the space, which is counterproductive to mitigating the risk of infection and spread of airborne particles.
There will certainly be significant changes in store, to provide for social distancing. Offices that once housed 300 employees may stagger shifts and allow work-from-home on a more regular basis. This concept of “hotdesking” could become the norm when setting up new offices. When we talk about new construction, the overall space may be built to only accommodate a portion of the employees within a region who alternate in, based on work preferences and personal need.
For retrofits and new spaces alike, we’ll see a spike in deploying building automation technologies. Lighting, temperature, airflow and other aspects of the office will need to adjust to more unpredictable occupancy patterns. Our O3 Sensor Hub is the ultimate solution. All of our products are meant for fast retrofit or easy installation for new construction. They offer wireless control and enOcean ad on, instead of relying on costly runs for installation. The sensor fusion aspect of the O3 Sensor Hub makes the process of setting up advanced building automation much simpler and less time-consuming.
Sinclair: How can building automation create a touchless office environment?
Hemmerdinger: As employees flock back into the office over the next several months, the fear of common touchpoints like elevator buttons, thermostats and projector remotes will remain. In the old days, these touchpoints were rarely sanitized. With the O3 Sensor Hub, you have a ceiling-mounted device that controls all the various aspects of a space – lights, temperature, AV equipment and more – through voice commands or personal smart devices. This immediately eliminates the ick factor and allows employees to be truly in control with their own personal device.
Sinclair: How can employees feel comfortable about connecting a personal device to the company’s Building Automation Systems? Would this cause any issues from an IT or security perspective?
Hemmerdinger: We’ve taken Ethernet all the way down to the terminal devices in our network. These are the smallest devices in our network, and they have the option of being controlled via Ethernet. This allows a company to combine its IT and BAS infrastructure, which is actually beneficial for new spaces and retrofit projects. If a facility needs to swap out controls, a significant amount of money can be saved by leveraging the existing IT infrastructure. From a bandwidth perspective, these technologies are not sending massive amounts of data that would bog down networks. By comparison, an individual streaming live television on the company’s WiFi network would use more data.
Many employees have long connected to office IT infrastructure by way of WiFi networks. Utilizing one’s personal device to access the building automation functions would be no different. In this new normal, employees will quickly embrace and appreciate the fact that they can control common-use devices from the palm of their own smartphone. This set up would not compromise security, either. We use BACnet secure connect to ensure the data routed through networks sufficiently meets IT standards and protocols. Our cybersecurity team constantly evaluates potential threats to heed off any disruptions.
Aside from health, what is the next largest driving factor for creating
Hemmerdinger: Office spaces have been used as a tool to increase employee productivity by tailoring needs to businesses and individuals. Studies have shown that happier work environments create more productive workers, which drives profitability. For these reasons, CIO and COOs are taking a more holistic look at a company’s office space. Only ensuring a space is functioning from a facility management’s perspective just doesn’t cut it anymore. Offices have evolved to become a recruitment and retention tool that can further enhance a company’s brand and appeal.
Sinclair: How can we learn more about Delta Controls?
Hemmerdinger: For more information about Delta Controls, visit our website, follow us on Twitter @deltacontrols and on LinkedIn.
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