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Posts tagged ‘HVACR’

Recruiting the Next Generation of HVACR Professionals

RajanRajendran2 Rajan Rajendran | Global Vice President, Environmental Sustainability

Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

The growing shortage of qualified HVACR service technicians is perhaps the greatest challenge facing the commercial refrigeration industry today. As we transition to lower-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant technologies and system architectures, the collective role of our technician workforce will be more essential than ever. I recently explored ways to reverse this trend in an article published in HVACR Business.

Industry statistics reveal the urgency of the current situation:

  • 80,000 HVACR technician jobs are currently unfilled — representing 39 percent of the total industry workforce.
  • An estimated 20,000 technician jobs are lost annually due to the retirement of an aging workforce or career attrition rates.

For years, Emerson has been a champion of shoring up the technician workforce by collaborating with vocational schools, helping to shape curriculum and supporting students along their HVACR career journeys. But solving this problem will require the participation of all industry stakeholders — from contracting companies, manufacturers, end-users, wholesalers and trade associations to educators, adjacent industries and government agencies.

Engage locally

Stakeholders agree that one of the most effective strategies for recruiting the next generation of HVACR technicians is by supporting local vocational schools and technical colleges. Combined with incentives from state governance, industry-sponsored scholarship programs and pre-apprenticeship opportunities, this local approach can inspire a lifelong passion for HVACR careers.

We’ve seen examples of this local engagement model firsthand. Emerson’s The Helix Innovation Center often interacts with students enrolled in nearby vocational schools here in Ohio. We recently offered a pre-apprenticeship opportunity to Nicholas Didier, a student attending the Miami Valley Career Technology Center (MVCTC) near Dayton.

As a high school senior enrolled in an HVAC program, Didier was interested in learning more about the basics of refrigeration and getting hands-on field experience. During his time at The Helix, he gained a much more in-depth understanding of the challenges facing our industry, a greater appreciation of the service profession and a passion for system design.

Nicholas’ efforts were recognized by the Ohio Valley chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), who awarded him a new Ford Ranger truck and a $1,000 scholarship via its Today’s Opportunities Offering Lifetime Skills (TOOLS) program. He plans on using these funds to purchase HVACR technician tools and further his education.

Changing perceptions

Industry stakeholders attribute the declining interest in HVACR roles to a variety of misperceptions and an overall devaluing of trade professions. One primary example is the belief that HVACR professionals do not make a competitive wage or have long-term career path opportunities.

Social media streams — which often present unrealistic, idealized views of the four-year college experience and other professions — make it even more difficult to change these perceptions.

But upon closer inspection, these myths easily can be dispelled. HVACR technician jobs check important boxes for many young professionals that four-year college degrees simply cannot.

  • Make an impact with a meaningful career —HVACR professionals are implementing new environmentally-friendly solutions and technologies that will play an integral role in greening our planet.
  • Work with cutting-edge tools and technologies —Modern refrigeration and AC applications utilize advanced controls, software and remote diagnostics capabilities.
  • Achieve job security —With little competition for available jobs, HVACR professionals are virtually guaranteed employment and enter a field with both long-term security and growth potential.
  • Earn while you learn — HVACR technicians can earn a competitive wage with a two-year vocational certification and have the option to augment the certification process with on-the-job training in apprenticeship programs.

It’s important for all industry stakeholders to understand, highlight and promote these differentiating factors to help paint a more realistic — and positive — picture of modern HVACR professions. At Emerson, we will continue to reach out to local vocational schools and technical colleges to hopefully guide more students along this path.

 

STEM Day Brings Emerson’s Yearlong Efforts Into Focus

Ken Monnier | Chief Technology Officer,

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solution’s Business

November 8 is Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEM/STEAM) Day — a time when the nation pauses to recognize the importance of these disciplines within our educational curricula. At Emerson, we are committed to supporting STEM initiatives year-round, and STEM Day allows us to reflect on the year’s activities and plan for what’s to come. In a historically male-dominated industry, it’s particularly important for Emerson to celebrate the contributions of women in our organization and create an environment where they can thrive and succeed. Let’s look at some of the ways we’re leveraging STEM initiatives to help create the next generation of engineers and support the increased inclusion of women within our industry.

Women in STEM (WiS) program charter and achievements

Emerson created its global WiS program to attract, develop and retain the top women candidates in STEM-related roles, enhance the diversity of ideas and approaches for the benefit of our customers, and fully deliver on our “Consider It Solved” promise. The program supports generations of women in all stages of their careers, from schoolchildren who are just beginning to think of their futures to professionals and senior executives who are navigating their career paths.

Based on some of the metrics gathered, we are well on our way to achieving the goals of this charter.

  • Membership increased to more than 5,000 global members
  • STEM-related webinar event attendance increased by 60%
  • Local chapter (Sidney, Ohio) membership increased by 10%
  • Launched a new global WiS SharePoint site
  • Ranked as #12 on Women Engineer Magazine’s list of top companies to work for
  • Awarded Gold, Best Practice Outreach and Best Practice Professional Partnerships by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

These achievements are indicative of the three guiding principles of our WiS program:

  1. Attract and inspire young girls to pursue STEM subjects and careers while recruiting top STEM female candidates to work at Emerson
  2. Provide opportunities to develop leadership skills and elevate the visibility for women in STEM-related roles
  3. Create an inclusive, connected community where women in STEM feel supported and have a sense of belonging throughout Emerson; provide a platform to highlight women in STEM as role models across Emerson

Emerson’s WiS program enables us to facilitate community outreach throughout our global offices and places of business. For example, the local WiS chapter in our Sidney, Ohio, location includes more than 100 members comprised not only of Sidney branch employees, but also extending out into other local manufacturing and engineering-related companies.

Ongoing commitment to STEM education, activities and events

Even though the past two years have made it difficult to plan and host in-person, STEM-related events, Emerson has continued to develop a series of educational webinars and promotional activities focused on professional development, social networking and STEM outreach to schools and universities. These activities include:

  • Sponsoring a cardboard boat race during the Summer Olympics
  • Celebrating Pi Day with pi-inspired games and the distribution of moon pies
  • Hosting a WiS online trivia event
  • Conducting educational webinars with prominent female executives and keynote speakers

Collectively, these achievements, educational events and promotional activities represent our ongoing commitment to furthering STEM careers and related disciplines — within Emerson and the global workforce. Emerson’s ongoing WiS efforts are having a direct impact on our business, transforming our culture and infusing it with fresh perspectives and insights that make us a more well-rounded and successful organization.

 

Discover E360 Content in New Resources Hub

Amanda Rogers | Marketing Manager

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions Business

If you’re a frequent reader of our blog or follower of our E360 industry stewardship platform, then you know that we’ve consistently produced a variety of educational resources over the past several years. From blogs, articles and case studies to webinars, videos and white papers, E360 has provided a communications vehicle to help keep you informed of the latest trends and regulatory updates that impact our industry. Today, Emerson is pleased to announce that you will now be able to access this ever-growing repository of content in one location: the E360 Resources Hub, located at E360Hub.Emerson.com.

Continuing to support a wide variety of customer needs

In 2014, we launched the E360 initiative to facilitate an industry-wide dialogue that would enable collaboration among HVACR stakeholders and address new challenges as they arise. Our industry has evolved significantly since then, and collectively we have all had a hand in that progress. Throughout our journey, we’ve explored a full spectrum of topics that cover a diversity of issues and emerging applications that our customers encounter along the food cold chain. In the process, we’ve accumulated a wealth of valuable, informative materials in a variety of formats.

Today, as our customers face new challenges across our many served markets, we will continue to provide the answers to your most pressing questions and the guidance you need to make the best decisions for your business. With the introduction of our new E360 Resources Hub, we’re making it easier than ever to find these resources in one place — with no subscription fees or opt-in requirements.

Multiple ways to stay informed

While we’ve aggregated our E360 resources library into one place, we’ve also provided multiple ways for you to access the information that’s most relevant to your business. Simply browse the E360 Resources Hub’s navigation menu to find the desired content type, industry market sector, product category or trending topic. Under each main navigation menu item, you’ll find its content further organized into categories.

Industry categories:

  • Aftermarket
  • Convenience Store
  • Distribution and Transportation
  • Food Retail and Grocery
  • Healthcare
  • Food Processing and Industrial
  • Foodservice and Restaurants

Product categories:

  • Facility Controls and Electronics
  • Compressors
  • Condensing Units
  • Variable Frequency Drives
  • Foodservice HACCP Solutions

Topic categories:

  • Connectivity, IoT and Insights
  • Energy, Utility and Power Management
  • Food Quality and Safety
  • Innovation
  • Maintenance and Repair
  • Refrigerants and Energy Regulations
  • Contractor Training, Tips and Safety
  • Sustainability
  • Retrofits and Remodels

Through our E360 platform, Emerson is committed to providing the relevant content and information resources that will help the HVACR industry to address emerging challenges and create a sustainable path forward. Whether you’re at your computer or on your smartphone, the E360 Resources Hub puts the latest HVACR and food cold chain developments at your fingertips.

So welcome to the E360 Resources Hub! Be sure to add this site to your list of favorites and visit often to access our industry’s most robust and comprehensive information repository.

Long-awaited R-290 Charge Increase Opens New Refrigeration Opportunities

Katrina Krites | Director of Strategic Marketing, Cold Chain

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions Business

For many years, the use of flammable refrigerants — such as A3 hydrocarbon R-290 (or propane) — has been a keen area of collective focus among the regulatory bodies governing refrigerant safety standards in commercial refrigeration. Offering excellent energy efficiencies and very low global warming potential (GWP), this natural refrigerant has long been approved for use in applications with a maximum charge limit of 150 grams. Recently, the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) has approved the second edition of its UL 60335-2-89 standard, which includes higher R-290 charge limits that would expand its potential uses in commercial refrigeration.

To date, R-290’s 150-gram charge limit has hindered its wider adoption, narrowing its use to self-contained refrigeration cases or requiring the use of multiple condensing units to achieve higher capacities. The updated UL standard raises the charge limits on these commercial stand-alone displays based on whether they have an open or closed design:

  • 500-gram maximum charge limit in open appliances (without doors)
  • 300-gram maximum charge limit in closed appliances (with doors or drawers)

The 500-gram charge in open appliances raises the limit to 13 times the lower flammability limit (LFL) of R-290, while the 300-gram charge limit in closed appliances is eight times that of R-290’s LFL.

From an application design perspective, these higher charge limits will help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to increase system capacities while capitalizing on R-290’s high efficiency and low-GWP rating (GWP=3). For contractors, consultants and end-users seeking to meet sustainability objectives or comply with refrigerant regulations, self-contained R-290 cases have become integral to their overall refrigeration strategies.

The first step toward wider adoption

The approved update to the UL 60335-2-89 standard is a key first step in the path toward wider R-290 adoption in commercial refrigeration. Although OEMs should begin planning their design cycles to enable these charge increases, other regulatory approvals will need to take place before higher-charge R-290 systems can be implemented throughout the U.S. and Canada. Pending approvals by other governing bodies include:

  • Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 15 safety standards for refrigeration systems
  • Model Code updates in the upcoming code revision cycle
  • State and local building code updates

 

For many U.S. industry insiders, the R-290 charge limit increase represents a logical next step in the progression of this natural refrigerant. Even prior to the UL approval, some sustainably-minded operators have worked with their local building code administrators to implement systems with higher charges of R-290. In addition, a 500-gram R-290 charge limit has been in place in Europe since 2019, when the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) approved the increase under its IEC 60335-2-89 standard for self-contained commercial display cases.

R-290 ready compressors and condensing units

For years, Emerson has been producing compressors and condensing units, designed to deliver additional merchandising space for OEMs that develop self-contained R-290 refrigeration equipment. Our current R-290 compression portfolio includes:

  • Copeland™ fixed speed hermetic reciprocating compressors
  • Copeland variable speed hermetic reciprocating compressors and variable frequency drives (VFDs)
  • Copeland fixed speed scroll compressors
  • Copeland variable speed scroll compressors and variable frequency drives (VFDs)
  • Copeland M-Line condensing units
  • Controllers and system components approved for use with R-290

In addition, we’re currently expanding upon our R-290 qualified products to include the following compressors and condensing units, which will be available in 2022:

  • Copeland horizontal fixed speed scroll compressors
  • Copeland horizontal variable speed scroll compressor
  • Corresponding condensing units utilizing new horizontal scrolls

Our R-290 product portfolio will be updated to accommodate the larger R-290 charges that will be adopted in the future.

Preparing for the future of R-290

After years of speculation, the commercial refrigeration industry in the U.S. can begin planning for the use of systems with larger charges of R-290 — enabling higher-capacity refrigeration while benefiting from R-290’s proven efficiencies and lower-GWP rating. Emerson is prepared to support this transition by developing partnering with OEMs and stakeholders to design in higher R-290 charge limit solutions to achieve regulatory compliance, fulfill their sustainability objectives, and reduce energy consumption.

While there are challenges to the implementation of propane, for environmentally forward-leaning companies, it is an increasingly attractive option. While new clarity in the regulatory environment should help to clear the way for wider R-290 adoption, the implementation of industry-wide safety practices will be necessary for propane to gain full adoption.

Propane is more combustible than some HFCs and there are a number of special-use considerations for using it in refrigeration applications. Some examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Sealed/gas-tight or fire-/explosion-proof electrical components (UL471/EN 60079-15)
  • Spark-free fan motors (brushless)
  • Ventilation and leak sensor safety measures
  • Special charge and leak detection processes during manufacturing

It’s also important to note that while propane has tremendous potential in commercial refrigeration, it is not a “drop-in” refrigerant. Equipment and components must be specifically designed for use with propane, as it requires a different compressor that will not always directly match the capacity or cost of existing HFC models.

Please reference any applicable product and application safety standards for the detailed list of considerations.

[Webinar Recap] Global Panel Explores the Essential Role of HVACR Careers

RajanRajendran2 Rajan Rajendran | V.P., System Innovation Center and Sustainability

Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

Throughout the world, HVACR technicians play essential roles in society — providing comfort cooling and maintaining the integrity of the cold chain responsible for preserving food and life-saving medicines. While this career path offers lifelong learning opportunities and salaries often exceeding those of many college graduates, our industry is experiencing a global shortage of qualified technicians. In a recent E360 Webinar, we assembled an international panel of expert technicians, practitioners and apprentices to reflect on their personal career journeys, explore the importance of technician professions, and discuss strategies for attracting the next generation of candidates.

In the U.S., we refer to this career path as HVACR technicians. In other parts of the world, they are known as different titles, such as: engineers in the UK; workers in Asia-Pacific; and experts in the Middle East. As I moderated this engaging discussion, each of the panelists provided interesting anecdotes that spoke to different aspects of the global importance of this role and the expanding opportunities that exist. Here is a brief sample of those perspectives.

Don Gillis, technical training specialist at Emerson
As a 30-year journeyman technician and current educator, Don spoke about a typical technician career trajectory for those starting out in the industry that mirrored his own life experiences. A technician often begins their career as an installer, carrying tools, cutting, cleaning and fitting copper together for new applications. A next logical step would be to shadow a more experienced professional, helping them with preventative maintenance and seeing firsthand how rewarding this career can be. Learning more about servicing, troubleshooting and diagnosis exposed him to a variety of issues that can impact system performance, capacity and efficiency. Don shared that his son has followed in his footsteps and started his own HVACR contracting business.

Joe Healy, director of application engineering, MEA, at Emerson
Currently based in Hong Kong, Joe’s experience serving the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions provided a unique perspective regarding the variety of HVACR approaches within different countries and continents — from the cutting-edge sustainability initiatives of Australia and New Zealand to advanced HVACR technologies in Japan to the manufacturing-focused China to the challenges of underdeveloped infrastructures in India. Joe explained that this broad diversity makes HVACR-related professions both interesting and exciting endeavors in these regions. He also shared how technicians make it possible to not only live, work and thrive in extreme climates and densely populated environments, but also serve as the wheels on which these diverse cultures run.

Alonso Amor, director of engineering services, Mexico, at Emerson
Alonso explained that the ambient temperatures in the Latin American region place high demands on refrigeration and AC loads. Perhaps these conditions have led to what he observed as an eagerness and commitment to learn the technician trade in this region. He explained that HVACR-related seminars are always very well attended, indicating a high level of interest in these skilled trades throughout the region. From his experience, candidates take the initiative to receive training, achieve certifications, and make their contributions felt, despite the hot climate and difficult working conditions.

Carlos Obella, vice president of engineering services and product management, Latin America, at Emerson

Carlos shared how his distinguished career started 35 years ago as an HVAC field technician. As an engineer with a college degree, he quickly gained expertise in installing and servicing parallel rack compressor systems for large supermarkets, which has served as a foundation for understanding the proliferation of today’s refrigeration architectures. He offered an anecdote about how the most competent refrigeration technician he ever met was not a degreed engineer. This individual went on to start his own refrigeration contracting business and became the primary refrigeration consultant for one of the biggest supermarket chains in Argentina.

Trevor Matthews, HVACR training and development specialist at Emerson
As a first-generation refrigeration technician, Trevor explained how this rewarding career checked other boxes on his job criteria checklist. First, he knew he wanted a career that would be universally in demand and allow him to travel the world. Second, like many job seekers, he was interested in earning potential. Not only did his job as a refrigeration technician allow him to travel, but he was making a six-figure salary after five years. He said his passion for refrigeration is fueled by the opportunity for continuous learning. Even though it can be a demanding career, Trevor loves the fact that it proportionately rewards the level of commitment you put into it.

Becky Hoelscher, director, aftermarket sales at Emerson

Becky discussed the growing urgency for our industry to replace a retiring generation of baby boomer technicians with the next generation of technicians. She explained that there will be an estimated 15% deficit of qualified technicians by 2026, and the industry needs to start recruitment efforts in high school and entice students to consider this career. Becky reiterated the importance of apprenticeships and discussed federal, state and local efforts to support these initiatives. She believes that a combination of classwork learning and on-the-job training can ultimately lead to certification — where students can even start getting paid while working toward a certification.

Nicholas Didier, mechanical technician (HVACR student)

As a high school senior enrolled in an HVACR program, Nicholas shared his experience participating in a pre-apprenticeship opportunity at Emerson’s The Helix Innovation Center. His goals were to understand the basics of refrigeration and get hands-on HVACR field experience. But in the process, he gained insights into the technician profession and uncovered a desire to further explore system design. Nicholas’ passion and accomplishments earned him a $1,000 scholarship from the Today’s Opportunities Offering Lifetime Skills (TOOLS) program and a new Ford Ranger truck. He plans on using the money to purchase tools for the HVACR technician trade and further his education.

All these anecdotes and individual perspectives speak to the opportunities that await those who enter this rewarding career path. To learn more about the importance of HVACR technician careers and how to attract the next generation of candidates, view this webinar.

 

 

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