- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Ian Nichols
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Maryland-based Autani Corporation (Autani) is changing the face of the automation controls market with cost-effective, user and environmentally friendly solutions. Autani offers a full range of made-in-the-U.S.A. systems for lighting, HVAC, plug load and fan management supported by revenue-grade metering and a secure, reliable wireless mesh network. The company is also automating improved efficiency, with customers typically experiencing a reduction in energy consumption of managed equipment from 30 to 50 percent with a return on investment period of one to three years.
From the beginning, Autani’s team has focused on a philosophy that controls should be easy to install, easy to manage and even easier to own and operate. “From the ground up, we’ve built our systems for ease of use,” details Randy Clayton, founder and president of Autani. “We have folks operating entire campuses after just taking 1-hour webinar training.”
Catering to the average user
Clayton identified the need for intelligent building automation systems catering to the average user in early 2006. “Our business plan hasn’t changed dramatically,” he says. “We started with the concept of creating an intelligent building automation system for the average user to operate because other competitive solutions were far too complex.”
Clayton worked as a consultant prior to forming Autani, and noticed the issue with other systems. “I consider myself to be a fairly technical person, but other systems were difficult to near impossible to operate,” he compares.
Since identifying a void in the marketplace, Autani has focused on mid-market type commercial buildings. “We have the capacity within our platform to go down to small or scale up to much larger buildings, but we’ve focused on the mid-market building niche, which also happens to be where the majority of the footprint in the U.S. exists,” notes Clayton.
Made in the U.S.A
Today, based in Columbia, Md., Autani employs a team of 50 with four additional sales offices across the U.S. “We have four sales offices across the country and we’re also doing sales outside of the U.S. through manufacturer representatives in other countries,” details Clayton. “We do all of our own product design in-house and then use select contract manufacturers for production. All of our products are manufactured in the U.S.”
Autani brings its product to market through various channels. “We do some direct sales to house accounts, but we have very strong relationships with nationwide contractor networks and we also go to market through distributors who reach smaller-scope contractors,” notes Clayton.
Effortless automation meets energy efficiency
Clayton says developing Autani’s systems wasn’t just about the need for user-friendly automation, but also a way to achieve greater energy efficiency. “Before, easy-to-use automation that couples energy management wasn’t readily available to the mid-market building space,” he recounts. “We’ve made it our goal to develop the total package. It’s a hallmark of what we do -in addition to developing world-class software solutions for our platform, we’re also spending enormous amounts of time on hardware and control devices to make it as cost effective to install as possible.”
Autani delivers a complete range in lighting and plug load control, HVAC and fan control, as well as metering and verification. “Our system is extremely modular and scalable,” says Clayton. “Our distribution partners sell just HVAC management, but at the same time it has all of the other capabilities. You can install and use any vertical solution we have within the platform, but you also get the full system solution so that if you want to upgrade to plug loads, lighting, metering or fans, the platform is there; it’s more of the instrumentation of your building that’s required.”
Clayton says the company is having particular success in the interior low-voltage LED lighting solutions market. “We introduced this control a little over a year ago and we’ve had great success in the market,” he shares. “The key thing for this platform is its very cost effective from an installation perspective; in certain construction cases, it’s less costly than traditional fluorescent solutions.”
The Autani e>pod lighting control system is a network, room-based suit of products to power, manage and control interior LED lighting fixtures. Simple to install, each e>pod room consists of an e>panel controller, low voltage wiring and LED lighting fixtures equipped with e>drive low voltage drives. By reducing or eliminating line voltage wiring to power and control LED lighting fixtures, e>pod simplifies installation and reduces the cost of implementing LED lighting solutions.
“We’re doing patient roof controls in large hospitals without disturbing occupants,” says Clayton. “At the end of the day, lighting goes right to your bottom line and our customers are seeing huge benefits.”
But it hasn’t been completely smooth sailing for Autani from the get-go. “Starting the company in 2006, right before the economic crash has been quite a challenge,” reveals Clayton. “But we’ve found a way to fill a void in the market and the future is bright. We’re starting to see significant traction in our capability to manage plug loads and we have a unique solution in this space. We also have a broad flush of deployments, from K-12 to religious facilities all the way to production and warehouse space; our systems perform.”
Clayton reveals while Autani has for the most part focused on the commercial side, the company may be introducing systems for the residential market at Greenbuild 2014 in October. “It’s within the realm of possibility,” he says.
Until then, Autani Corporation continues to deliver the complete package in easy to install, easy to use and energy effective, complete building automations.
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