DEM A ND F OR SKILL ED ELEC TRICIA NS IS G RO WING . The industry is looking for traditional electrical installation abilities as well as advanced expertise in controls programming, networking and systems integration. Electricians
who combine these disciplines will meet the existing growth of building automation systems (BASs) and address the
increasing green workforce demands to implement energy management, efficiency and sustainability measures. However, that is a lot of crossover, and individuals who have all of those talents are rare.
Contractors face the challenge of finding knowledgeable electricians or training the ones they already have. In many cases, the solution
is to combine in-house training programs with vendor-provided system
education. Of course, training requirements vary according to each
contractor’s business model and the companies it works with.
BAS companies often go to contractors for electrical installation. A
variety of sources can provide the integration, programming and system
management work that follows. Control Technologies Inc., Williston,
Vt., works with contractors who install its systems, according to Joe
Eagle, training coordinator.
“We almost always do the technical portion of the installation,
“Depending on the type and size of the project, SmartBT will utilize
which is the programming and final checkout of the devices,” Eagle
said. “The wiring and mounting of the devices is performed either by
our in-house electricians or by a subcontractor working from our engi-
neered system plans.”
Smart Building Technologies (SmartBT), Bethesda, Md., offers web-
based, open-protocol controls for mechanical and electrical systems
in commercial, higher education, government and laboratory facilities.
These controls provide for management and monitoring of electrical and
heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in addition to
energy-management programs aimed at utility savings. From the system
and services SmartBT provides, some projects are design/build retrofits
for existing outdated platforms while others are new specified projects.
in-house installation teams or subcontract to contractors who specialize
in control work,” said Paul R. Meng, SmartBT principal.
Sending them away
Global technology company Siemens provides two BASs, Apogee and Talon,
which are used in multiple industries.
Siemens offers online and in-person training through its BT University
program. In addition to building automation systems, courses cover install-
ing and servicing fire, life safety and security systems. (The 2016 course
schedule is available at www.siemens.com.)
In most cases, technology vendors offer online resources for training
electricians to work with these products. It’s possible to get the basics of
most products through online videos and free web-based training. Siemens
offers training for contractors that install its products. The company is seeing growth in several of its automation systems based on demand for green,
intelligent building management systems, and, therefore, sees demand for
more qualified installers.
Getting trained is only part of the battle. As building automation technology changes, contractors have to make a concerted effort to keep up to
date. Ken McQuillen, marketing manager at Siemens’ building technologies
division, said that, regardless of whether contractors attended BT University
at Siemens, they can also contact local Siemens representatives for help.
FOCUS | ON THE MARKET
Skills to Pay the Bills
Breaking training boundaries
BY CLARIE SWEDBERG