Joe Williams has been with Versa Technology for over ten years, currently serving as Director of Distributor Sales. Before that, he spent another ten years as Director of Sales in both an Ethernet-based company that leveraged existing copper infrastructure and a private label telecom application developer. We recently sat down to discuss the trends he’s seeing in Power over Ethernet (PoE) devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) space as well as opportunities that are developing for installers and contractors. Joe is an avid reader and stays well-informed on the topics that interest Versa readers. It’s always a pleasure to learn what he is observing and where things are moving in the industry.
Versatek Editor: Question (VE:Q): Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us today.
Joe Williams: Answers (JW:A): My pleasure. I enjoy discussing things that can help our readers improve business.
VE:Q: Versa recently contributed to a groundbreaking restoration project—the historic Sinclair Hotel in Fort Worth, TX. Thanks to the broad range of the PoE devices used to power the guest amenities in that project, Versa was able to help shape arguably one of the most digitally forward-looking hotel experiences available.
What are some of the takeaways you’d like readers to know?
JW:A: Urban renewal is hot right now. Thirty-seven states are providing financial (tax) incentives to groups taking on projects like these. I think you’re writing a post on how tax incentives work in an upcoming post?
The Sinclair Hotel, Image Courtesy Downtown Fort Worth, Inc.
VE:Q: Yes. That’s going to be the one right after your interview.
JW:A: Rebuilding and refurbishing historic landmark properties with digitally advanced infrastructure as a trend that is taking on momentum. I think I saw last week that there’s a design group working with the White House and advocating new guidelines that could radically change the look and feel of federal buildings in our nation’s capital. Of course, that’s Washington D.C. and a movement about building aesthetics, but it’s a larger movement to preserve the beauty and historical design of both public and private buildings. Whether you agree or not with the D.C. movement, the historic building restoration trend is very much alive in cities all over the country.
Municipalities and developers are identifying target properties that can become smart buildings. Properties are retrofitted with intelligent lighting systems, smart HVAC, deploying a full range of PoE devices including sensors throughout for monitoring systems to conserve power, which also makes them easy to maintain.
VE:Q: Easy. In what way?
JW:A: Because everything is assigned an IP address, it’s easy to track from the centralized management system. For example, the life of an LED bulb might typically be 6000 hours. Because your management systems are tracking these things, you can budget more effectively for replacement bulbs while also managing resources. Because of this transparency, the management gains greater control over spending and when to assign tasks.
Historic Building Preservation and Urban Renewal. The Gallery at the Historic Three Arts Club, Chicago.
VE:Q: What you’re saying is these retrofits are cost effective.
JW:A: Yes. Sensors embedded in the different smart platforms collect data to help paint a picture for facility managers of how buildings function and where to prioritize resources. The smart building platforms parse trends from this data, which helps with maintenance planning, energy usage analysis and cost tracking.
This process is so valuable that companies are developing niche services around building data accumulation—the intelligent building platform niche. One company that comes to mind is Johnson Controls. (We are not affiliated.) These platforms automate the management process and provide centralized control of entire systems, including HVAC, fire detection and suppression, and physical security.
VE:Q: There is definitely money to be made in smart buildings and on these urban renewal projects. What are some other things you’d like our readers to know?
JW:A: One of the things that stand out is the IEEE 802.3bt standard and PoE device demand for 90W of power. Moving forward, organizations will need to plan for higher power budgets. Their IT network infrastructure is going to need to meet these new requirements. It’s not an “all or nothing” situation, though. A PoE power injector can delay more significant spending. Businesses can postpone massive investments in building-wide switch and hub upgrades while allowing IT managers the flexibility to install LED lighting platforms or PTZ security cameras.
Many of the newer switches and injectors offer 60W per port. The 90W PoE injector allows the PoE devices to receive data from the switch while independently receiving a higher power budget through the PoE injector. That offers a cost-effective, short term solution while still leveraging the long life left in the switch. Readers should be aware that advanced technologies are now going to increasingly require more power.
VE:Q: Yes. Smart buildings will only get smarter as devices link to platforms. Any other trends our readers should be considering right now?
JW:A: Smart technologies are also helping industries like manufacturing track data and make informed decisions. That’s why Versa is focusing on industrial-grade PoE technologies that have grown popular with customers. That’s because the power budgets for manufacturing applications and powered devices are increasing. Along with the increased performance of the inner workings, PoE switches and hubs with hardened casings are the solutions to meet the stress of harsh environments. The level of hardening, also known as the ingress protection (IP) code, tells the customer what level of protection their equipment is getting from dust and moisture. Versa Technology industrial technologies are industrial IP rated to prolong equipment life.
PoE is prevalent in manufacturing because it is saving businesses money. By having machines connected using PoE devices such as switches, hubs, extenders and injectors—manufacturers are not only able to track the amount of product they produce—their automated networks can order supplies when supply quantities begin to run out. Network sensors can alert operations when routine maintenance needs to happen, when a bottleneck erupts in an assembly line and more. These capabilities are making businesses more cost-effective, reducing overhead and increasing productivity.
VE:Q: Thank you, Joe. We appreciate you taking the time to share your insights and look forward to speaking again soon.
JW:A: My pleasure.