Graeme Ross is Resource Data Management's Group Head of Sales HVAC / BMS. Graeme has been in the industry for over 30 years and has demonstrated his expertise by helping grow RDM to the heights the company has reached today. To find out more about Graeme's life, both inside and out of the Smart Buildings industry, read his Q&A interview with Smart Buildings Magazine >
How did you become involved in the Smart Buildings industry?
I have worked in the industry for 30 years. Nowadays, Smart Building is a term that is being more commonly recognised. However, the company I first worked for was doing smart buildings almost 30 years ago. Back then we were doing integrated controls of plants, boilers, heat reclaim etc. I got into the industry straight from college – after being given an opportunity through an equivalent to today’s modern apprenticeship and I’ve never looked back.
What excites you about the Smart Buildings industry?
What keeps me on my toes is the new technology and the new approaches to solutions. I’m not the sort of person who thinks ‘we’ve already done this and that’s the best way’. I’m always looking for original ideas and breakthroughs, new hardware to integrate and bringing new remote devices into the buildings.
Are there any particular technologies that we should be aware of, but are currently under the radar?
We are now looking to introduce Bluetooth 5 into the business. Bluetooth 5 seems to have a bit of an edge at the moment. We have integrated fibre as new technology. In terms of under the radar, I think 5g and LoRa will come up in the future, but we’re not quite there yet. LoRa (short for long range) technology is, unsurprisingly, long range and also low power. In fact, it has a greater range than cellular networks. It’s something I’m keeping in mind for the future as an IoT application for Smart Buildings. Watch this space!
What services does your company offer?
Resource Data Management manufacture and develop award-winning remote monitoring and energy management solutions. We have offices in the UK, USA, ASIA, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia with customers from all across the world.
We believe we are unique in that we have no subscription fee or annual license fees, with our controls often saving users so much in energy costs that the initial investment is paid off in the short term. And, if you want to upgrade your software instead of buying more expensive hardware, we can do this for you remotely with minimal disruption to day to day operations. Typically users need to uninstall the equipment and send it back to the manufacturer. Alternatively, they need to power it off and pay a costly third party to install the upgrade on-site. Unlike any other in the industry, we have been offering this remote upgrade for the past 18 years.
Are people aware of the regulations that they will need to comply with in the near future?
That’s a tricky one, while performing day to day responsibilities, it can be challenging to stay on top of all the new technology becoming available and all of its regulations. I feel the industry has a responsibility to educate those within it and be more vocal about what’s required.
What are the benefits of a smart building?
With a smart building, you get total integration. Everything connects. You don’t have the windows open at the same time as you’re trying to heat the building etc. From a Facilities Management point of view, this interconnectivity can give you much better visibility of what’s going on, even from afar. And, getting data analytics in an easy-to-read format helps you predict failures. This means fewer callouts - less ‘van time’.
Although, I think one of the most critical factors given the current climate, is the ability to become more energy efficient. It has been said that 46% of business energy is actually consumed outside of 8am-6pm. So, with smart buildings better able to monitor the likes of lighting, air conditioning, occupancy, etc., we can hopefully reduce our carbon footprint.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
This would have to be Raj Samuel. He was the one who gave me the apprenticeship roughly 30 years ago. He gave me that drive and determination, to keep challenging myself and move through the business. Not just stay in one place. I wanted to become a Service Engineer, but he made me work in different departments first so that I could have a true appreciation of all the things going on. Then he also encouraged me into sales and project management – it’s like he knew what I wanted to do before I did. And here I am – and here he is, still wheeling and dealing after all these years.
What is the question you are most often asked in your business life?
It’s got to be “what do you do?” and I say – Group Head of Sales HVAC / BMS – is quite vague, but that’s because if I were to explain all the things I get up to it wouldn’t fit on one line. Even the guys I see every week still ask me what I do. But primarily, I come up with solutions to problems – whatever they turn out to be. It’s a lot of travelling and looking after our partners, and really just growing the business. It’s a mix of anything and everything.
What are the best and worst things about your job?
The best thing has to be that each day is entirely different. I get involved with new applications, new problems, and new products. Every building I visit is different with its own unique problems. Keeps the old grey matter going.
In terms of the worst parts, it has to be coming across poor workmanship. People taking shortcuts. There are lots of people and companies out there who do projects and installations that give the industry a bad name. If you do a job, you’ve got to do it properly.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
You’ve got to come into it with an open mind, and you’ve got to be willing to put the hours in. It’s not a 9-5 industry. It’s also all about listening to clients, instead of trying to railroad through your own idea first. Listen, come up with solutions, adapt them, re-evaluate. Not everything works first time – you have to be persistent.
What living person do you admire and why?
That would be Emma J Bell. Emma, she is an amazing person and has an incredible past as one of the UK’s top Employment Lawyers, and now a life coach and motivational speaker and author, but she also has such a great work/life balance. And I think that’s all down to her attitude. Everything is positive – no negatives. She gives anybody who is with her so much enthusiasm. Her work ethic, her drive, her patience – she has time for anyone and everyone. I admire her ability to inspire you, even on your worst day. I’m lucky enough to have her nearby. I recommend her way of thinking and dealing with problems to everyone.
Where would you most like to live?
Nordics, Scandinavia surprisingly! The scenery, the quality of life, the remoteness, and defined winter and summer temperatures. You know what you’re getting! It’s vast and peaceful, and that attracts me.
What is your favourite book?
It’s got to be Bill Bryson’s ‘A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail’. It’s dangerous but fun. He’s dealing with real issues in the great outdoors – even coming across bears. You’re just always wondering what’s going to happen next.
How do you relax?
Time with the family – plain and simple. We have a busy home life like, and we absolutely love the cinema. We are never away from it. Our record is three films in a day. It’s my time just to veg out.
What sports team do you support?
I’ve never been a massive sports team person. I don’t follow football or anything. I guess if I had to pick a side it would be my daughter’s Swimming and Water Polo team as I seem to be poolside all the time – she trains seven days a week.
What is your desert island disk?
It’s got to be ELO – Out of the Blue. It’s got ‘Mr Blue Sky’ on it so you can’t get much better than that. It just lets you disappear.
What is your ideal holiday?
The Maldives. 100%. Time escape and relax. It also means I don’t have to do the swimming and water polo runs – the water is right on the doorstep. I’m pretty sure my wife would agree.
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