DDC Controls and Building Automation Systems Are More Than Just HVAC
When people hear me say I do ‘HVAC Controls’ they say, “OH! You’re an Air Conditioning guy.” Well not be snobby or say anything bad about all the great A/C tradesmen out there, but… Once you are programming DDC Controls and Building Automation Systems; ya really don’t do JUST Air Conditioning.
You gotta learn computers and IT networks, maybe some programming skills or even do a little CAD drawing. If you are in the field, for sure you better brush up on your basic electronics. Know all you can about voltages, amperage, relays, resistors, capacitors and how to use your freakin’ multimeter for something more than touching the two probes together to make it BEEP!
It Is A Wild and Out of Control World Out There
In one building, I installed a complete DDC Controls System that included HVAC, Card Access, Elevator Controls and Lighting Controls. Yup the whole enchilada!There are so many things people take for granted or don’t even think about that happen behind the scenes and require someone like me, a Controls Freak… *ahem* THE Controls Freak to make work. Pretty much any mechanical piece of equipment that keeps everyone else comfortable, secure or moving along with ease; takes some sort of machine, system or process to bring it all together.
If you were an employee at a company on the 3rd floor and you arrived early before the doors were open to the public you would just swipe your ID badge on the proximity card reader out front and the doors would open. At this moment the Building Automation System database knows what floor you work on and it already made sure to enable the A/C and turn on the appropriate lighting zones for your walking path.
Once inside the lobby you would head to the elevators that were locked out to the point the buttons won’t light up unless you once again swipe your clamshell proximity card. In doing so the elevator controls allowed you to only push the floors you have access to.
There’s No Experience Like On-the-Job Experience
As you might expect having a job with a controls integrator or building automation contractor is going to be your best bet in being able to gain experience and come across different opportunities outside of HVAC like controlling industrial machinery such as food, plastic and even cosmetic manufacturing equipment.
I am currently working on a series of emails that will be sent via email subscription to people looking for some tips about what they need to learn or show off at an interview that will land them their first or next job position in building automation or DDC controls.
Jump In, The Water Is Fine!
There’s never been a better time to get your feet wet. If you are at a point in your career where you can afford to take an entry level position or a position where you know that there will be a large learning curve…then DO IT!
The DDC Controls and Automation Industries are still in their infancy when compared to other computer and IT driven industries. If you were to enter at a lower paid position now, I can honestly say in 3 to 5 years you would be prime to be making a salary of $35k-$55k depending on the route you take within the industry. More on that in another post.
Meanwhile continue to explore this blog and Google all the various terminologies and catch phrases you can to learn more about our industry so you can get a better grasp of what is out there. Here are a few you can click on to search Google for now:
- Building Automation Systems
- Energy Management Systems
- DDC Controls
- PLC Programming
- Commercial Lighting Controls
- Elevator Controls
- Card Access Systems
- Commercial Fire Alarm Systems
- Industrial Controls
If you are in the industry now…
What off the wall situation have you come across that had a controls or automation solution to it? Did it turn into a continuing business?