Our Q&A with Takayuki (Taka) Inoue, Executive Vice President and President, Daikin North America LLC. An edited version of this interview appears in the March print edition of HPAC Engineering.
What do you feel separates Daikin from its competition this year?
Daikin is a $17-billion global leader with more than 90 years of developing and manufacturing HVAC equipment. Daikin has committed to the North American market with significant investments such as the purchase of McQuay, which is now called Daikin Applied, and then the purchase of Goodman Manufacturing about six years ago. Since these acquisitions, we have strengthened and grown our Daikin Applied and Daikin North America businesses here in North America. We built the third largest manufacturing and assembly facility in the world in Waller TX, just west of Houston, which I now call home myself. Daikin currently has over 67,000 employees worldwide, and I am fortunate to have over 4,000 full-time and contract personnel currently working with me in Waller. We have plans in place to take that up to as high as 7,000 personnel. Daikin has already invested over $417 million into our new, state-of-the-art facility here that we began constructing in 2015 and completed this past year. (See video below.) Several of the VRV units (aka "VRF") that were once imported are now assembled here in Waller. Daikin is the only HVAC company manufacturing VRF products in the United States.
From a product standpoint, Daikin is bringing new, more advanced ideas and technologies, then adapts them to the products here in North America. For example, variable speed inverter compressors are being used in more North American manufactured products. Daikin manufactures its own inverter compressors which are used in 100% of Daikin’s VRV and ductless products. We also began engineering invertor compressors into some of our other products as well, such as our Rebel rooftop units and our residential DZ20 split system unitary heat pump.
What are some of the recent advancements in products from Daikin?
We have several, but I will highlight just a few. Daikin is committed to developing smarter, more configurable HVAC technology that enables building owners and homeowners to be more in control of their HVAC equipment and comfort. We continue to advance the connectivity and control of our equipment with WIFI and apps. Our rooftops and chiller products use Intelligent Equipment – the industry’s first equipment-level, cloud-based controls.
Our VRV products have been a big focus of our more recent product developments. We launched the new VRV LIFETM system at the 2018 AHR Expo show. VRV LIFE is the industry’s first VRV system designed specifically for residential applications. A single outdoor VRV LIFE unit can be connected to up to nine indoor units. Some of those nine indoor units can also be gas heat furnaces, which is also an industry first.
We’ve also expanded our Daikin VRV AURORATM product line for extreme climate conditions. The AURORA provides 100% heating capacity at 0°F and an industry first 60% heating capacity at -22°F. Last year, we launched the VRV AURORA in Canada with 575V products and this year we are rolling out the 230V/460V products for the United States.
And, we also have the new VRV T-Series Water Cooled systems which provide many of the same features and benefits of the VRV air-cooled systems but instead use water loops or geothermal to transfer heat. These systems are compact which makes it very convenient to easily fit through doorways and move in elevators. Units can be grouped together for up to 36 tons.
What do you think will be a major industry trend in 2018?
2017 was a year of advancement in connectivity and controls. I expect to see this continue on a larger scale. As the market demand increases, we will continue to develop more efficient products that are easier to service, monitor and control. Ductless and VRV have been the fastest growing market segment and I believe that 2018 will prove to be a faster growth pace than ever before.
Where do you see Daikin in the next five years?
Daikin will continue to invest in and profitably grow our position here in North America. We will continue to emphasize our technology strength by leading the HVAC market with many more industry first achievements.