Do they have the internal resources to address my codes, standards questions, and issues?
OEMS should select a partner with the internal resources to help them define and address codes and standards issues such as Short Circuit Current Rating (SCCR), UL, and international codes compliance. You could broaden your coverage to the international market.
Do they promote manufacturing best-practices and have a proven track record?
OEMs should select a partner that has design and manufacturing expertise who can help them streamline their processes through technology and innovation, understands the market, and can help get their products to market faster and with less total cost. They should be able to demonstrate a strong presence within the HVAC/R OEM community.
Can they help support your product after the sale?
Commissioning has become much more complex than in the past. Controls technology has increased to the point that the typical mechanical installation contractor should have a full-time controls technician on staff. Components like VFDs, power monitoring, and PLCs play an important role in delivering the energy efficiency to the customer. Spending valuable time on a startup gone bad can eat away the profit quickly for the mechanical installation contractor. The more OEMs can include plug-and-play controllers and VFDs, the easier and less time consuming start-up and commissioning will be for your installation contractor. As an OEM, select a partner that can demonstrate simple and easy commissioning of his controls and electronic components.
Bottom line, in order for HVAC/R OEMs to be competitive in selling their equipment in today's market and economy -- and remain profitable -- they will have to take a hard look at their business practices and address all the costs associated with the unit cost of their machines. As they say, it's not rocket science, but it is a commonsense approach to better positioning ones products on the market.
Bob Gray is HVAC/R OEM segment manager with Industry Business for Schneider Electric.