Resource Data Management (RDM) celebrated its 20th anniversary on 8th September. Following two decades of innovations and shaping industry developments, we consider current trends, Industry 4.0, environmental concerns and changes in the workplace.

Shaping the IoT

RDM CEO Andrew Chandler founded the company, with the vision to analyse data collected from HVAC, lighting and refrigeration devices to improve the management and efficiencies of buildings.

In those days, the internet was rarely utilised day-to-day as a resource within the industry, and the formation of the term internet of things (IoT) was years away. Even though there was no name for it at the time, Andrew could see the potential of systems communicating freely to share data.

“Little did I know 20 years ago, that others would share my vision, and that it would become fundamental to day-to-day life, and that it would widely be known as the Internet of Things (IoT) ” Andrew said.

The first solution RDM offered was built on this idea: a remote monitoring service for food retailers. Starting with five phone lines, and then migrating to an internet network, the team analysed data from customer sites, identifying areas for improvement in asset maintenance. Based on this experience, RDM developed predictive maintenance systems, enabling the collection of non-critical incident alarms, that could be managed or handled remotely to avoid costly site visits.

Two years later, remote monitoring software ActiveFM was officially launched. Today, it monitors over 8000 sites worldwide. It has expanded to include energy management features and the options for customers to track, to a granular level of detail, the status of HVAC, lighting and refrigeration devices located on sites worldwide.

In 2003, ActiveFM won the ‘Best use of Technology’ award in tandem with RDM winning ‘Business Innovation of the Year’.

Driving Open Protocol Solutions

Building management systems operating with open protocols have gained importance recently since Industry 4.0, the digitisation of manufacturing, started to take hold in businesses around the world. Many companies who still struggle to realise Industry 4.0’s potential fully, are now recognising the benefits of a genuinely open protocol control solution. The most prominent of which is integration with existing infrastructure. Not only minimising cost but avoiding equipment in good working order finding itself in landfill.

Realising the benefits of an IoT system before the name even existed, Andrew spurred the development of the Data Manager, a control system head-end that provides a central control point on-site and remote dial-in access off-site. First released in 2003, the latest model features a 10’’ multi-touch screen and has firmly positioned itself as a market leader.

The preceding ten years saw much international growth. The first overseas office in Malaysia was launched in 2009, followed by a US office in 2012. Further expansion came at a rapid pace through affiliate offices opening in Sweden, Australia and New Zealand and a worldwide distributor network in Europe, Mexico, South America, and Asia.

Sustainable Solutions

In 2015, the EU F-Gas regulation came into effect to decrease the emission of fluorinated greenhouse gases (f-gases). End-users, HVAC and refrigeration suppliers were forced to consider and seek out environmentally friendly solutions. Ammonia, CO2, propane and self-contained waterloop systems quickly become the most common go-to options. Andrew’s foresight positioned RDM ahead of the curve. In 2013, the first Transcritical CO2 control system in New Zealand was installed for a leading retailer, using RDM’s range of Transcritical controllers.

“Environmental concerns continue to impact the industry and drive RDM research and development. Fundamental to the RDM ethos is efficiency, speed, minimal waste and environmental impact,” Andrew commented.

He went on to say “Sustainability is key to what we do and has been since the start. I do not like waste in any aspect of life and have grave concerns about the planet we will leave for future generations. The ultimate shared goal of everyone at RDM is to reduce energy, waste and carbon footprint – not just ours, but that of our customers. We do this 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 daily 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 always work smart.”

Developments to shape the industry

After 20 years, RDM counts almost 200 employees around the world, alongside a valued network of distributors and partnersSince Andrew’s first vision of the industry in 2000, his foresight and confidence to a leap into the unknown has continued to influence product research and development. So what does he envisage to shape the future of the industry?

“I think that better system information over other mediums to reduce the need for cables will be significant. Another critical aspect of future development to reduce energy consumption will be predictive system performance and energy requirements to match the supply load when needed.”

Changes within the commercial buildings industry, shaped by the Covid-19 epidemic, are anticipated. “Many companies have realised that staff can work from home just as effectively, and often more productively. More people working at home has the potential to have a detrimental impact on the value of commercial buildings as a result of a decrease in demand. With lower occupancy, buildings will need less heating, lighting and cooling - making the efficient control of buildings even more important. To keep energy usage to a minimum, while maintaining a comfortable ambient temperature.“ Andrew pondered.

“In food retail, online shopping could see a change in what consumers purchase in-store. We are already seeing customers buying more fresh produce. A further shift could see frozen and long-shelf-life foods being ordered online. Combined, these changes could result in new store layouts and additional chilled cabinets.

Another significant change that could potentially impact industries across the board is the development of efficient methods to store clean energy. Long-lasting batteries, capable of storing large amounts of power, would change the way we power our facilities, making them significantly greener. The industry would need to adapt, and the importance of genuinely open protocols would become even more prominent, as equipment from different manufacturers, including batteries, solar panels, and HVAC, will need to be coordinated to work efficiently.”

Regardless of what influences will play out in the future, RDM is looking forward to continuing leading changes to come.