Designing a custom AHU is an iterative process, and that iteration – and the time it takes, drives cost and, in many cases, slows the service provided to the design engineer and, later on, the manufacturing and delivery. With traditional selection software, the design process becomes heavy, requiring multiple rounds of validation and re-pricing. And once a bid is won, the work starts all over again, with the manufacturers needing to create a submittal package based on the plans and specifications.
The breakdown in the process is all about sharing, collaboration, as well as the industry standards and the manufacturer’s product standards. The solution is for manufacturers to find a way to unify the design/sales process with the submittal and production into a single, seamless, validated workflow to save time and money and greatly reduce the risk of error.
The AHU Design and Sales Process
Unless you are in the industry, you probably have no idea how a custom AHU project is sold. Air handling units are initially designed as a preliminary draft by the manufacturer’s representative or the manufacturer’s in-house sales group. These initial designs are submitted to the consulting engineer, design-build contractor, or the owner’s representative for feedback.
By the time the project goes to bid, the process mentioned above has been iterated multiple times, and the design is fine-tuned as building and system parameters get better defined.
During this phase, the representative sales engineer, who is usually a multiple product representative and not necessarily an expert in the specific AHU product, needs a powerful, intuitive, self-validating selection/design tool that enables collaboration with the consulting engineer, as well as the manufacturer’s engineering team, to comply with the project requirements, industry standards, as well as the product standards and limitations. With a collaborative platform, the representative sales engineer can also benefit from the manufacturer’s in-depth engineering expertise and product knowledge. A cloud-based platform that addresses all these pain points and makes real-time teamwork a reality would be the perfect solution to overcoming the inefficiencies inherent in today’s AHU design/sales/engineering status quo.
Handing off Approved Design to Production
Once the air handling unit design/selection is completed, the project goes to bid. If it’s successful and the representative/manufacturer secures order for the equipment, the designs/selections are sent to the manufacturer. The manufacturer then needs to produce a complete, accurate, and detailed submittal package that is acceptable to both the consulting engineer-contractor-owner team as well as the in-house team, including sales, engineering, purchasing, production, and shipping. For a typical project of multiple air handling units, this process takes days and, in some cases, weeks, and it’s all work that has already been mostly done in the design phase. The catch is that the sales selection/design software doesn’t talk to the in-house engineering-production team’s systems, so everything has to be recreated. Sounds horribly inefficient, right? That’s because it is. But it’s also standard operating procedure in the industry today.
With a shared, online, collaborative software platform, the manufacturer’s engineering team could access the project’s already-completed AHU design/selection data. They could quickly and efficiently verify the completeness and accuracy of the work, and they could turn the already existing selections into a detailed submittal package, without tedious and time-consuming rework – and, as a bonus, without the risk of introducing new errors while copying the design work.
ABC (Activity Based Costing)
With many AHU selection tools currently used in the industry, pricing requires that the software developer develops and constantly maintains special hard coding to give the manufacturer the ability to obtain custom tailored pricing specific to its products standards and manufacturing tasks. The Kinetix Air platform has a powerful ABC (Activity Based Costing) engine, which gives the manufacturer the ability to define and continuously maintain its product-specific costs, activity costs, and associated unit costs without any hard coding required. This gives the manufacturer complete customized control over their pricing methodology and eliminates any dependency on outside software developers.
Another time and money-saving feature of a unified, collaborative platform is that the project can be flagged for final review/engineer’s approval. When that approval is received, the project may be released to production, all within a single platform – no emails, attachments, file versioning, etc.
Does Such a Thing Exist?
Until recently, the answer would have been no. But in 2018, after three years of research and development, we launched Kinetix Air, the first cloud-based, unified, collaborative AHU design, sales, and manufacturing platform. Since its introduction, the platform has been continuously upgraded with powerful new functionalities and is driving new levels of speed, efficiency, and collaboration for custom AHU manufacturers.
Current AHU selection software only does part of the job manufacturers need. Kinetix Air unifies all aspects of custom AHU sales, design, and manufacturing. It automates repetitive and time-consuming parts of the process – cutting your level of effort and reducing risk from errors. Kinetix Air cuts design time by 75%. It also automates product validation, pricing, submittal, and BOM generation, reducing the time required to near zero. Savings add up to more than 20 hours per AHU for an average savings of $200K per year for a small manufacturer.
With a unified solution like the Kinetix Air AHU software platform, you can design and price an air handling unit that meets any customer specification within a matter of hours and quickly make changes to the model as needed.
Ready for a demo? Email us or call (818) 293-8240.