With RDM approaching its 20th anniversary this year, we spoke to RDM's CEO and founder Andrew Chandler about the beginnings of RDM, the company's central ethos of sustainability, industry developments and future projects.
- Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
The biggest influence by far has been my wife, without a shadow of a doubt.
- What was your vision when you started RDM?
In the 1990s, the internet was just starting out, my vision then based on my time at BT and using data to analyse telecoms system failures, was to collect data from intelligent building control systems to help manage assets better. For me, using the internet as an open communication network was a natural progression, rather than having a dedicated dial-up service.
- What do you think is the secret to your success?
I don’t have a secret, but I think the most important aspect of the company’s success is teamwork and respect. Being surrounded by fantastic hard-working, committed people who are dedicated to achieving the same end goal is essential to RDM’s success.
- What role did the Internet of Things (IoT) play in steering the direction of product development within RDM?
When starting RDM the term IoT had not come into reality. Little did I know 20 odd years ago, that my vision would be seen by others and adopted as the norm in what has been named IoT today. The first full solution RDM supplied was a remote monitoring service for a food retail store, starting out with five phone lines and then migrating to an internet network. We analysed the data from the customer’s sites and identified areas for improvement in asset maintenance which allowed us to develop predictive maintenance systems and enabled the process of bunching non-critical alarms so that they all could be dealt with at the same time when visiting a site to deal with a critical fault.
- Sustainability and reducing the environmental impact have become even more important in 2019. How high on the agenda is the environmental impact for you, and how do you see RDM increasing its already existing ‘green’ impact in the industry and as a company?
Sustainability is key to what we do and has been since the start. I do not like waste in all aspects of life and I am concerned about how we are leaving the planet for future generations. RDM is fundamentally about reducing energy, reducing waste and ultimately reducing the carbon footprint, by offering remote monitoring, diagnostics and data to keep current systems working at their optimum efficiency and improve future system design. I’m proud that everyone at RDM contributes towards our core value of protecting the environment on a daily basis through our products and services. We continue to innovate and improve our products and operational processes with environmental consideration at the heart of every decision. We always aim to work efficiently. Our goal is to continue to work smarter.
As an example, we installed two 15kw electric wind turbines in 2008, reduced paper and postal mail by switching to electronic invoicing and payments, and we continue to innovate at our offices to reduce energy and waste. Recently we have introduced a new company car policy, moving to all electric cars to aid our sustainability goals.
- RDM has seen a few international developments in 2019, such as the restructuring of the EMEA sales team to support a growing customer base and new office and training facilities in the US. Are any changes planned for 2020?
A big project for next year will be the complete refurbishment of our head office, inside and out. We are also planning on moving our manufacturing plant in Taiwan to keep up with increased demand. In the US we’re seeing a lot of growth and opportunities this year, so I’m excited to see what the next year will bring.
- RDM will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. As the company’s founder, you have led the growth of RDM from the very beginning. What are some of your favourite memories from the past 20 years?
One of my favourite memories is from the very early days when everybody got stuck in doing various functions to meet new orders. I remember on one occasion we set up an assembly line and to get the kit out of the door. My wife and my two sons, who were teenagers at the time, along with Alan and Gordon McBride, our Operations and R&D Directors, came in to help out and I absolutely loved the way everyone was working together.
- What trends are you noticing in the building controls and monitoring industry, and what impact do you think they will have?
At the moment, everyone is talking about the IoT but everyone has a different idea of exactly what IoT means. To me, it means to take any manufacturer’s devices and access their data for free, creating a truly open system, based on open protocols. More and more manufacturers are slowly developing devices that have IP at device level, which is something that we did back in 2004. Not gateways or interfaces but truly at device level. Completely free, no fees for having to join clubs or be members of organisations. Absolutely free, open and totally interoperable.
Another one that I think will be big for the building controls industry in the next five years is fibre connectivity. Everyone thinks it’s all about speed and distance but it’s not. Fibre offers other huge benefits over cable, its resilience to electrical noise and its reliable connectivity. BT recently published figures that fibre is five times more reliable than cable connections. Another major benefit is its reduced need for earth’s precious minerals. I believe that the industry will slowly realise that we can install a more robust system using fibre, compared to CAT5 cables. In a similar way that the switch was made from Belden to CAT5. As fibre manufacturing increases the cost will become significantly less. Today it’s almost par with CAT5.
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