Editor’s Note: Every successful project starts with a framework. A vision statement. A blueprint.
The editors of Engineered Systems are proud to present The Blueprint — a Q&A interview with HVACR engineering’s leading voices. These one-on-one discussions will examine the trade’s history, current industry trends, and the factors shaping the sector’s future.
When Henry Angelery founded AERCO as Angelery Engineering Research Company in 1949, his goal was to deliver on-demand temperature-controlled water heating without storage. That vision became a reality when AERCO introduced an innovative design for an indirect-fired water heater – and it continues to revolutionize the water heating industry today.
Recently, Kal Osman, director, boiler product management at Watts Water Technologies, sat down with Engineered Systems editor-in-chief, Herb Woerpel, to discuss budding boiler technologies, the evolution of tankless water heaters, and more.
Engineered Systems: Please introduce yourself to those reading this article.
Osman: I am the director of boiler product management at Watts Water Technologies. I have been in the HVAC industry for more than two decades, serving in different capacities.
Engineered Systems: AERCO’s Benchmark Platinum with Edge Controller has been named a finalist for the AHR Innovation Awards. Tell us a little bit more about the Benchmark Platinum and what it means to be honored by the AHR Expo.
Osman: AERCO’s Benchmark® Platinum commercial condensing boiler optimizes hydronic systems delivering up to 9% additional efficiency through patented technology and innovative features. It enables precise combustion by self-correcting problems caused by external variables, such as fluctuations in combustion O2 levels, air temperature, occupancy/loads and gas pressure. Benchmark Platinum delivers superior performance, maximum efficiency, and the lowest cost of ownership.
With advanced features such as EZ Setup and Combustion Calibration Assist, the Edge Controller makes it even easier to install, service and maintain the Benchmark boiler for peak performance and maximum savings. The Edge mobile app enables full unit setup and control with enhanced features, simplified diagnostics and capabilities with the flexibility and freedom to move around the unit when configuring, diagnosing and troubleshooting. The app is available on iOS and Android.
Other features of the Benchmark Platinum boilers include: AERtrim®: patented O2 Trim technology; dual returns, which enables maximum efficiency and application flexibility; onAER® Predictive Maintenance, which is an analytics tool that ensures system operates at peak performance; and we offer an exceptional warranty.
With its combination of patented technology and innovative features, AERCO’s Benchmark Platinum with Edge Controller is a revolutionary product that delivers much more than the average commercial condensing boiler.
AERCO is extremely excited to be named a finalist for the AHR Innovation Awards. To go head-to-head against the best in the industry and be selected by a panel of third-party, ASHRAE member judges who evaluate us on innovative design, creativity, application, value, and market impact is an honor.
Engineered Systems: Tell us a little bit more about AERtrim and onAER Remote Monitoring. How will these technologies simplify engineers’ design decisions?
Osman: AERCO’s patented AERtrim O2 Trim technology monitors the actual conditions of the Benchmark Platinum boiler and self-adjusts its combustion process to ensure the system is operating at optimal O2. The result is increased uptime reliability, cost savings due to increased efficiencies, and lower emissions. AERCO AERtrim is the only logic that manages O2 and inlet air temperature, providing the best efficiency optimization.
onAER Predictive Maintenance provides customers with instant access to comprehensive unit performance details, event history, maintenance schedules, and more. This helps ensure the system operates at peak performance and owners avoid lost revenue due to undetected equipment faults and downtime.
Engineered Systems: Seeing that it’s been about two years since its release, how has this unit evolved?
Osman: We’ve added the Edge Controller and Mobile App to the Benchmark Platinum boilers. The state-of-the-art Edge Controller includes many features new to the industry, including valve balancing, combination plant setup through manager, (i.e., setup and manage two boiler groups for heating and hot water with swing boilers in a combination plant), assisted Combustion Calibration, and more.
The mobile app is among the most comprehensive apps in the industry and functions as a large screen controller, giving technicians the freedom to move around the unit when configuring, diagnosing, and troubleshooting. It also has copying settings between boilers, which simplifies setup and reduces startup time requirement. We are constantly adding features to this new controller platform to help the industry meet its application and efficiency goals.
Engineered Systems: In 1949, AERCO introduced the industry's first semi-instantaneous, tankless steam-to-water water heater. That’s 70 years of progress. What makes AERCO such a leader in this market?
Osman: “Engineering Research” is embedded in AERCO’s name, identity, and philosophy. Throughout its history, AERCO has continually strived for excellence, which has resulted in a number of industry firsts and cemented its position as a technology leader. In addition to introducing the first tankless water heater, AERCO introduced the first condensing and fully modulating boiler and water heater to the commercial market 30 years ago.
AERCO differentiates itself through a solution-based model, leveraging decades of engineering experience and industry application expertise to understand each customer’s unique needs. By partnering directly with customers and end users to understand their project-specific requirements, AERCO provides tailored application solutions that are comprised of superior product technologies. Examples include high-efficiency condensing products, compact footprints, high turndown ratios, unique fuel delivery, leading control systems, and proprietary design elements.
Engineered Systems: This is a big question here, but what technologies or approaches will define AERCO’s next 70 years?
Osman: AERCO has been a true industry leader and is continuing to do so. Our mission is to invest in the future of our clients by providing them with the best technologies available. With that, AERCO has a dedicated innovation team with access to other industry leading resources through Watts Water Technologies.
Engineered Systems: Speaking of Watts, that acquisition occurred five years ago. How did that acquisition impact the AERCO as a whole?
Osman: Being part of the Watts family of products creates stronger solutions to the market. This is achieved through AERCO having access to additional resources, technologies and logic. Many of our current product features utilize knowledge and products from other Watts entities.
Engineered Systems: Let’s talk about HVACR engineering as a whole. Obviously, the explosion of technology through sensors, the advent of the IoT, etc. has really reshaped the industry. Fill me in on how AERCO is keeping up with this metamorphosis?
Osman: Communication has been one of AERCO’s major strengths. With this, AERCO is offering more data and more ways to share it. The Benchmark Platinum can communicate to the IoT, BAS, and mobile app without add-on components, gateways, or specialized configuration. In addition, the Edge Controller connects the Benchmark Platinum boiler to the SmartPlate water heater system, offering an extremely efficient and reliable integrated system.
Engineered Systems: If you could relay one message to consulting and/or specifying engineers, what would it be?
Osman: When selecting products, it’s important to look at the application and full product capabilities of addressing those applications with better automated logic and fewer components and accessories. The Benchmark Platinum boiler with Edge Controller is a good example. The controller offers two-way communication with the SmartPlate water heaters to provide an optimized space heating and domestic hot water solution that maximizes the whole system efficiency and simplifies control and management.