Read the transcript: In this CleanAlert Podcast with Robin Zoufalik, Vice President for Facility Sales and Marketing at CleanAlert, we're going to be looking ahead to NFMT Vegas happening in November 2016.
Bill (host): Robin, welcome to the podcast.
Robin: Thank you, Bill. It's good to be here.
Bill: Robin, let's jump straight in. Firstly, please tell the audience a wee bit about yourself and what you do at CleanAlert.
Robin: My role at CleanAlert is to lead and strategize commercial marketing and sales of the FilterScan WiFi product based on my experience in the industry of the built environment. That's my main mission is to get the product out into the market and find out how it can be used very well.
Bill: Let's learn a bit about CleanAlert. What does CleanAlert do? Tell us about the product and any accolades, any awards that the product has won. We'd love to hear about that.
Robin: Yes, the FilterScan, which every so often we put out a new version, it originally was kind of a basic version but it was based on some research done by a professor in Oberlin, Ohio. Once he got the sensor technology then we looked for applications, and one of the applications for the probe was an air filter monitor. It would basically measure the pressure drop across a filter which indicates whether or not a filter is clogged. So out of that invention, the FilterScan was born. Now the version that we have is WiFi capable. That allows owners to see across many air handlers and many buildings what their air filters are doing from a clean and clogged basis. What that does is it allows people to be more efficient in their filter changes which has adds a lot of benefit to them.
As far as awards, we did win the Popular Science Innovation of the Year Award based on a number of products that they evaluate and we were one of the ones that was chosen as Innovation of the Year in 2014.
Bill: Wow. That's amazing. Are there any other products quite like it out there at the moment?
Robin: There's a couple things that you can compare it to. The only one that is what I would call an electronic-sensing or and automatic-sensing air filter monitor is quite expensive and is not as easy to install as the FilterScan. Then, of course, you have the way that it's been done over years through visual inspection, which is not accurate. You can also do a magnehelic gauge across the filter and unfortunately to be able to read those pressures you have to be at the gauge. Every time anything changes you have to recalibrate it.
Our product is unique that it's easy to install, fairly inexpensive, very accurate and you can access the information on the filter clogging status either through a computer and then if it does go into clogged condition then you can either get an alert over a cell phone via text or through email. So, it is kind of a unique product.
Bill: In just a moment we're going to try and learn a bit more about who the right people are who should be using FilterScan, but before we get to that I'd love to understand a bit more from you about the problems that the FilterScan device solves for facility managers, operations managers and so on.
Robin: The biggest problem that it solves is reducing the energy use with air handlers. So, if you have a filter that is clogged, you're going to use more energy to move the air. That can be a significant savings based on some studies done nationally. Also, and this is more on the productivity side, is that if your filters are clogged and/or air quality goes down, it's been shown in many studies that poor air quality leads to productivity loss in the occupants of the space that the air is being delivered to. Finally, in extreme cases, there can be equipment failure due to lower air flow through the system. So, there's really three things that are clearly identified that can be consequences of not doing the filter changes effectively.
Bill: Thank you very much. Now, today's podcast is a special one, it's in order to look ahead to NFMT in fabulous Las Vegas happening in November. Let's start looking ahead to that now together.
Can you begin by telling us a little bit more about the ideal target market for FilterScan and other CleanAlert products and why they should use the remote air filter monitoring technologies?
Robin: Most commercial facilities have air handling units and all air handling units are going to have filters. In the broad scope of things the market is basically across the commercial spectrum. That could be institutionals, it can be hospitals, it can be retail, all of that type of thing.
Our target market is probably in the mid-sized, the small-sized commercial entities that would have a very stretched facility staff or perhaps no facility staff at all. A lot of the larger institutions like a university or a health system will have mechanics that check the equipment on a regular basis and they have a pretty good track record of their system. We're best applied in places where - in two cases. One, let's say that you changed the filters on a calendar schedule. So you may change the filters out every three months or every four months and in some cases you're changing the filters too little and in some cases you're changing too quickly. If you don't have a staff to be knowledgeable in that, you're basically changing filters and you don't know what the consequences are and the cost that you're experiencing.
The other target market is that you have multiple buildings and you may be on a regular route or need remote access to the information. The FilterScan is very simple to install and through the WiFi, you basically get information at any time on the percentage of clogging of all of the air filters that you are monitoring. So you could be in an office and have five other offices that are a distance away, and you could check on a periodic basis what the status was as you saw clogging get up to 60, 70%, then start to look at, okay, I'm going to probably need to be changing the filters at that facility.
If they do clog, you get an alert from an air handler. Let's say that you have ten air handlers in that building and you get an alarm for one. You then would go and check the other nine and let's say that 50% of them are near clogging so that you'd go ahead and arrange for the filters to be changed for the 50% of the units that are in clog condition.
So those are really the targets. Really, any facility that has an air handler, but the most benefit is for those that either don't have a large maintenance staff or no maintenance staff at all.
Bill: Super, thank you very much. I think you've alluded to the answer to the next question, but I'm going to ask it any way. Why is CleanAlert choosing to exhibit in NFMT Vegas in November?
Robin: We've chosen to exhibit there based on some experience in the type of people that attend this conference. It's typically facility managers, building engineers, property managers and owners of buildings. The information that we're providing in our exhibit is important to them because unless they're searching out this information they're probably not aware of this product. By being able to display it and talk to people about it, it really fits our target market very well. We've seen a tremendous response from previous exhibits that we've had of people understanding the simplicity of the installation and how effectively the product works and truly like the capability of being able to monitor filters throughout their building stock. Especially since Vegas is on the west coast, we're expecting more people from the western part of the United States to be in attendance. We're based in Oberlin, Ohio and have more coverage on the east coast. We feel that this will be a very good show for us to introduce the product to people that may not be aware of it.
Bill: Indeed. I had the pleasure of going to NFMT in Baltimore earlier this year. It's a great atmosphere and CleanAlert gets to meet exactly the right sort of people. Vegas promises to offer that western audience and even more great conversations. I'm going to give you a little plug here, Robin. CleanAlert is at Booth 126, so everybody please do stop by and say hello to Robin and his colleagues who'll be happy to tell you more about the product.
Robin: Also I'll have the product on hand so that you can see it.
Bill: Great. The attendees will get a real feel of the capabilities.
So you're actually speaking at NFMT Vegas as well on November the 1st at 2 p.m. Tell us what you're going to be talking about and why it matters to the attendees.
Robin: I'm going to be speaking about this new technology and how to be efficient in your filter changes and filter monitoring. Since it's Vegas we are playing off the gambling theme. The reason for that is is that if you change your filters through visual inspection or on a calendar basis, then you're really gambling because you don't know if the filters are clogged and you're probably wasting some money.
The technology that we'll be covering in the program is the effective monitoring which uses new technology, innovative technology to measure the static pressure drop across the filters and also being able to remotely access that information and finally the bonus of being alerted to when the filters are clogged.
There's consequences and there's benefits. The benefits - I've talked a little bit about the consequences before - but the benefits are that if you're changing out the filters say four times a year and you put the filter monitor on there and you discover that you actually only need to change out the filters twice a year, then your filter cost has just been reduced by 50%. That can be significant in some cases where the filters that are being used are quite expensive, but even if they're not very expensive filters, a 50% cost reduction can be significant.
In addition to that the other benefits are is that we can then track, based on what you have been doing, any filter life that is longer, we can calculate the energy savings that you get by using clean filters versus running the machine with clogged filters, which would be indicated if the filters clogged before your calendar exchange is you get that calculation. So I think that's important for facility managers, especially in today's world where CFOs and people that are looking at operations are looking to reduce the operational cost of facilities. Really if you look at it, if you can reduce your operational costs, that money goes to the bottom line or you can use that money for other improvements that you may need in your facility, so it's really a win/win situation. I think that's important for facility managers, building engineers and property managers to know that.
Bill: It's a really hot topic at the moment. For our audience I also want to highlight the fact that Robin was the lead story in the Facility Executive Magazine Newsletter just last week talking about this. Other members of the team recently have been published on Automated Buildings and Building Operations Magazine. This is a really hot topic right now.
In addition to your hot topic, what other accessions are you looking forward to seeing or other exhibitors that you're hoping to catch up with?
Robin: I think the entire Internet of Things, which is kind of the subject of the use of information and buildings and this whole concept of smart building that started with the electronic or automated thermostats and now it's graduating to entire buildings and monitoring the important.
I'll be looking for products that the FilterScan WiFi is concurrent with and builds on the Internet of Things and smart buildings, high performance buildings. Those are the types of things that are of interest to me as we talk about sustainability and green buildings and using smart technologies to make the facilities better. There are other products I'll be interested in seeing and talking to people about how to do that.
One example might be, which is kind of a simple on I just had this past week, is if you recall getting on an elevator and you either had to push buttons to get to your floor and now you walk up and you say "I'm going to floor 14." You get on the elevator and the elevator goes to floor 14. If there's other people waiting for the elevator and they've requested the elevator, the elevators operate smartly so that there's no waste of trips because if elevators keep going up and down and use a lot of energy.
In the filter monitoring if you're using air handlers, buildings and their running on clogged filters, and you're using that energy, our product avoids that.
Bill: What are some of the outcomes you hope to get from exhibiting and speaking at NFMT Vegas?
Robin: Our biggest hope is that we get to meet a lot of folks from the western part of the United States who may not have heard of our product and we get some exposure to it. We're also looking for folks that are in our target market to perhaps [extend over 00:16:52] the product and we have some programs that we can do that with, and if people are ready to purchase the products of course we'll have a way for them to do that very efficiently.
Bill: We're just about the end of this particular podcast. Before we wrap it up, Robin, I'd love for you to tell people how they can learn more about CleanAlert and how they can book a meeting in advance so they can meet with you at NFMT.
Robin: Obviously you can go to our website, see our products and learn how to order them and that type of thing, or if you want to contact me via email, it's firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm also available on LinkedIn if you'd like to reach me that way.
Bill: I believe you guys are pretty active on Twitter too, and I believe their handle is @CleanAlertLLC, so they can contact you that way. Then you'll be using the hashtag, I'm sure, as the event goes on.
Bill: Well that takes us to the end of this particular, very special NFMT-focused podcast. Robin, thank you very much for being our guest today.
Robin: Oh, it's a pleasure to be here and I thank you for the opportunity to talk about our product and the NFMT show and Expo and I'm looking forward to Las Vegas which I don't get out to very often. Hopefully it'll be warm and no snow like we may have in the east coast in November.
Bill: Okay, that's wrap. Thanks very much listeners for tuning into this special edition looking at NFMT Vegas. This has been Bill Banham joined by Robin Zoufalik. Until next time, thanks very much.
Thanks for listening to the CleanAlert IoT Podcast. Subscribe to the show on iTunes and check out CleanAlert's award winning remote air filter monitoring technology at CleanAlert.com.