Fearing Technology Change


            It seems that many of the burner and control manufacturers are diversifying, something that I have been writing about for some time. The once oil-burner-only manufacturers are now offering  totally different product lines, such as solar hot water systems, fuel oil additives, oil pumps that now function at 290+PSI and multi-functioning electronic controls. Who would have ever thought that an oil burner manufacturer would be offering solar systems? However the good part is, it’s thinking green technology and adding new opportunities for companies that have lost some market share due to other energy and fuel alternatives that are being aggressively marketed.

 I’m getting questions from people within the industry that have many concerns about energy conserving products and the promotional rebates offered. These questions generally fall into the category of ‘New Technology,” and when these two words are mentioned, I can hear a quiver of fear in the conversation. Some will immediately say ‘that’s too complicated, too expensive,” and ‘let the other guys try it.”

             In my opinion, those who plan on staying in the oil business for the next twenty years must take a serious look at the new technology now and not fear it. Even if you don’t want to install it now, spend the time attending training programs and visiting the many Web sites readily available on these subjects. Also notice how many owners that are no longer marketing themselves as oil companies only. They are now adopting the words ‘Energy Company.” The reason is simple: it gives their company a new image that will cover every type of energy saving technology that will surface both now and on into the future. Keep in mind the words ‘oil company” advertises itself with an oil-only limitation.  By the way I, like many of you, came from an oil, coal, ice and propane company. I guess you could say that we were a diversified company even back in the ’60s and ’70s.

             Another area of new technology is the system controls side. There are those that can manage entire heating and cooling systems via a computer from miles away and send out alarms for system failure. The new electronic controls can manage water temperature and display the percentage of savings simply by modulating water temperature. Pay attention to the new circulators that can ramp up or down to automatically match the load requirements of a zoned heating system and also display the power consumption; all focused on energy conservation.

As for fearing technology, I offer a true example of a technician being sent on a no heat call and upon arrival he determined (so he thought) that the new system had a bad management control. He told the customer that the system’s $1,000 controlling unit should be replaced. Why? The real reason was because the technician simply could not figure it, due to the lack of his knowledge and training pertaining to the systems control technology. By the way, the problem did get resolved by repairing an outdoor sensor wire. Training is a must, and if you don’t belong to a local Service Manager’s chapter join now, because they offer training that can keep you tuned in to the always changing technology.

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