By Michael Young (Pr. Eng.)

Stage 1: The HVAC tender game

One of the most talked about series on TV is ‘Squid Game’ which features hundreds of players who risk their lives to win millions of dollars. From the first game of ‘Red Light, Green Light’, we see alliances being built and we see what players are willing to do to win.

The concept of this series has been so unique that it gained 82 million subscribers within the first 28 days of release. What makes this series so intriguing? Maybe it’s the concept of how far one will go to win?

Even though this entire series is fictional, is the HVAC industry so different? Is it possible to say that the business of HVAC tenders is also a game? Could it be a game of alliances, a game of strategy and a game to beat competitors? Let’s imagine that we are playing a game called HVAC tender.

The game begins with the specification document and everyone has to comply 100%. If you don’t comply, you just state non-compliance and you may still be able to move to the next level.

What makes the HVAC tender interesting are the moves each player is willing to make. Some players state non-compliance then start conversations with the client and design engineer to try to change their minds and substantiate why their solution should still be considered even though there is non-compliance. Other players choose to comply with everything and then start conversations with the client or design engineer and try to run down other suppliers who don’t comply.

As the game progresses, price versus compliance and energy efficiency are the dominating factors that influence the rules of the game.

So why are these factors so important when playing the HVAC tender game? The truth is that when an HVAC system is initially designed, the price is unknown.

All that can be done is to determine the type of technology, get an estimated yearly energy consumption, and select equipment that meets a specific cooling load.

The next thing is to describe features and constructional requirements to suit the location of the site. Now, is it possible that some features are a luxury and not a necessity? Unfortunately, these luxury features increase the price which only gets discovered once all pricing has been submitted and evaluated.

So, what is the final impact of making these luxury features part of a specification document? Would you say that over designing an HVAC system is a luxury or a necessity?

The answer to this will be discussed in next the game where we will be playing, ‘over design, under design’, where we will look at the impact this has on energy efficiency, price and performance of a system.

Wishing you a great month ahead.

Michael Young

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