Some Odds & Ends to Think About
From trends that are (or aren’t) catching on, to cooking for engineers …
From a Pessimistic Point of View
Pharmaceutical projects are different? Not according to several readers who responded to this column I wrote last year. Many wished that their building programs had the construction budgets that pharma building programs have, and these same individuals wished that they could have the simplicity of HVAC control systems that pharma jobs have so that their less skilled operators could better operate and maintain the HVAC systems they receive at project turnover.
Third-party TAB is still not catching on! As critical as testing, adjusting, and balancing (TAB) is, building owners, design engineers, and planning and construction companies still don’t see the value of an HVAC system being tuned up and operating as efficiently as intended. At the same time, many TAB firms don’t see the benefit of following their own quality control TAB procedure.
Equipment manufacturers have yet to embrace commissioning. After writing my August 2011 column asking “Why Not Commissioning Sheets?” not one equipment manufacturer responded to challenge the idea or consider the idea of providing “functional performance test” (FPT) documents in sync with their standard startup sheets. For that matter, no design engineer responded to the idea even though the design engineer would benefit by requiring completed FPT documents.
Positive attitude is a rare commodity. So often, individuals in the building industry are required to delegate as part of a team effort, but just as often there seems to be this lack of leadership where the individual facilitating the process leads by example and with a positive attitude. It appears that many professionals are more comfortable assigning the blame than coaching success.
From a Positive Point of View
Women in the building industry. More often than not, you will see women in responsible positions in design, construction, and O&M segments of the building industry. This is a good thing, but more minorities are needed to maximize the talent, energy, and excitement each person can bring to a project.
Technology continues to change, so why aren’t standard procedures changing? I believe standard design and construction procedures are finally trying (a key word) to catch up with technology. My “Thank You, Steve Jobs” column helped me to realize that handheld technology is finally reaching down to the facility operator despite the fact that design engineers are still specifying the use of 100-yr-old valve tagging. There is a whole new business out there for the entrepreneurial programmer with a touchscreen device.
Hospital acquired infection will continue to be a problem. Yes, it is a “killer of a problem,” but the health care industry is recognizing it now more than in past years. Unfortunately, it isn’t the hospitals who are championing the solutions but, as usual, it is the equipment manufacturers who see a profit in the silver lining. Thank goodness for free enterprise system, because the health care community is benefiting from innovation by others.
Continuous training in the soft skills. I’m hoping owners of design firms and construction management firms will set aside in-house training sessions this year on what I call the soft skills: time management, public speaking, facilitating a meeting, managing meeting minutes, truly understanding contracts, and getting paid for work completed. If an owner of a company Googles these topics, they will find that curricula are already in place to some extent and could be reshaped to fit the business their company is in.
And everyone must eat! I saved the best for last. In 2012, I decided I was going to be a “real cook” meaning not just cook steak, hot dogs, and hamburgers on the outdoor grill. I wanted to be able to bake, broil, and boil, and so I came across this really useful website, www.cookingforengineers.com/. For me, it is the “cooking for dummies” instructions I needed because it provides your step-by-step photos of the cooking process, along with your standard recipe list of ingredients and things to do. As they say, “A picture is worth 1,000 words,” and this website provides a wide range of how-to recipes. Just remember, you must be an engineer. Architects and contractors need not Google.ES