When we think of high tech, most of us think of smart phones, applications, and Internet-powered services, but technology has revolutionized another industry most of us take for granted—the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) that make the air around us comfortable, less humid and more energy efficient, with fewer pollutants, bacteria and odors.
For companies like H&B Engineered Products (H&B), advances in technologies have been every bit as unprecedented as they have been for the tech sector. The Beltsville, MD company distributes more than 50 brands of HVAC products throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Tracking the number of parts, specifications, orders, shipments and installations requires a mini Amazon of operational efficiencies.
“The website is our central nervous system,” said Kristy Pearce, VP of Internal Operations. “We have built it to send quotes, process orders, send shipping acknowledgements.…it helps us get information to our customers more efficiently than relying on emails and calls.”
HVAC goes technical and aesthetic
Then there are the products themselves. HVAC systems have taken on added value, based on technical enhancements and aesthetic impact. Ductwork is now an architectural element in high tech offices. Sophisticated climate control systems help preserve historic collections. “Linear slot diffusers” are engineered to provide flexible air patterns. Permeable antimicrobial materials help remove buildup in corrosive environments, and zoned HVAC systems are more eco-friendly.
While each technical advance can add complexities for building contractors, engineers and architects, technology also has created new benefits and supply chain efficiencies.
Technology's impact on work processes
"The process of gathering drawings used to take an extreme amount of time. We would acquire large format drawings from contractors in person, copy the set, complete the take-off, send back the original, and start the process all over again,” said Pearce. “The process now is so much faster and seamless. We use software to electronically highlight HVAC equipment, calculate linear footage, and collaborate in real-time online.”
Like all businesses, technology also has presented its share of challenges. Two years ago, H&B merged with JK Mechanical of Baltimore, which extended its geographic footprint, product offerings, and warehouse locations, but meant planning for the integration of two networks.
For staff that work remotely, H&B also found a way to troubleshoot out-of-office IT problems that created an added advantage internally.
“I am the Help Desk at our company, and one of my favorite tools is ScreenConnect*, which was recommended by the team at Summit Business Technologies. It’s a self-hosted remote desktop application that allows me to help people across the office without getting out of my chair and troubleshoot when I’m working from home. It has literally changed the way I work,” said Pearce.
The way we were.
There is a glass cabinet in the H&B office that is testimony to how much technology has changed the way the company does business in the 40 years since it was established—from the red sales binders for client documents, to the hand stamps for work changes, to the Blackberry and early laptop.
Who knows what current technologies will be historical momentos 40 years from now?
“We embrace technology,” said Pearce. “It has allowed us to be innovators. We’re never satisfied with the status quo.”
Summit Business Technologies is a technology company that partners with clients to manage and secure their IT infrastructure. Our clients rely on us to improve efficiency and uptime, monitor for threats, mitigate security risks, evaluate and purchase equipment, develop custom applications, manage cloud migration, back up data, and prepare and implement disaster recovery plans.
*ScreenConnect has since been rebranded as ConnectWise Control