DEMO Lab Sessions
Live trade demonstrations are back at the ConnexFM2023 National Conference.
By Caroline Heller
Participants at last year’s ConnexFM National Conference walked away invigorated by the new connections made, knowledge gained and excitement for ConnexFM’s new initiatives. This year promises to be even better as ConnexFM has partnered with Supplier members to facilitate experiences with HVAC equipment, various facility signage, plumbing equipment, diverse roofing solutions and more.
In other words, live trade demonstrations are back.
Breaking It Down
Facilities managers are often tasked with coordinating the repair and maintenance of a variety of systems and parts. HVAC systems, for example, can seem scary and complicated, making their repair or maintenance even harder to understand. However, live trade demonstrations can make these systems less complex by literally breaking them down part by part — from compressors to condenser fan motors.
Longtime ConnexFM member and former Board President Steve Waxman remembers two very important live trade demonstrations he attended in the past. The first was an HVAC demo that provided valuable knowledge about the entire HVAC system, including its many parts. “You really got exposed to the equipment and could touch, feel and see all the various components of the air conditioning system,” Waxman said.
The second involved roofing. “We were able to compare the various roofing materials, whether it was PVC, EPDM, TPO and built-up roofing, etc.,” he said. “I could actually feel the differences between them, like their thicknesses and visualize how they were applied, so I had a better understanding of what was involved in a roofing project. For example, how long it might take as well as the difficulties and challenges that the contractor might face.”
If It Ain’t Broke...
The old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” doesn’t really apply to facilities management. Preventive maintenance (PM) should be a top priority for facilities managers so they can keep essential services running and prevent daily operations from ever having to be suspended. Live demos can help in this regard because they show facilities managers what, for example, an HVAC system’s preventative maintenance routine might entail.
“We were actually walked through what is conducted during a comprehensive, preventive maintenance routine for an HVAC system,” Waxman said. “This way when you get the pricing for preventive maintenance, you can tell if it’s too cheap or too expensive based
on how much time you were shown went into PM.”
Can you really trust an auto mechanic if you’ve never looked under the hood of your own car? Probably not. Live trade demonstrations provide facilities managers with invaluable hands-on experience to apply to future situations, potentially saving their departments and organizations a lot of money.
“There aren’t many places where a facilities manager, especially someone newer to the industry, can actually go out and put their hands on the equipment,” Waxman said. Live demonstrations provide just that. “This way when facilities managers get a proposal or quote for a repair, they can have a better idea of what is involved, how big the component is, where it’s located, etc. They can have a better understanding of what the contractor’s going through so they can potentially query or challenge the contractor.”
This year, plumbing is on the list of live trade demonstrations that will be at the ConnexFM2023 National Conference in Dallas, and Waxman thinks this is great news. “A lot of money is spent on plumbing, whether it be new installations or repairing and replacing components,” Waxman said. There is the potential for facilities managers to learn a lot at this demonstration and save money down the road.
Waxman also hopes there will be future demonstrations regarding signs, fire/sprinkler systems, electrical work and lighting. “It would be great to have a live trade demonstration on electrical work where someone took you through circuit breakers, panels, electrical disconnects, transformers, etc.,” Waxman said. “Basically, anything that has components that you can actually feel and see is going to be a great demonstration.” Being able to touch the material is key to understanding a variety of complex systems, leading to financial savings — which is why ConnexFM has brought back these important experiences for attendees.