Over a beer with good friends at Johnson Controls, Harshad Shah—a native of Mumbai, India—learned of the need for more energy management in facilities. “I listened to a lot of horror stories—why some of the things weren’t working—and about the cost of energy going up,” he says.
Shah had done consulting work at the Ford Motor Company in the areas of building controls and automation. “I got involved in a lot of areas of energy costs and concerns that led me into the energy management business.”
Today, Shah owns Eagle Technology in Milwaukee, WI, a company that provides building maintenance management systems. Facilities build, buy, or retrofit equipment, and have building management systems and energy management systems (EMS). “All of that requires maintenance. If you don’t maintain it, you don’t get a return on your energy investments. That led me into going into the asset management and facility management software business.”
Specifically, his company’s Proteus CMMS software integrates with building automation systems to generate work orders automatically upon response to alarms, runtime, or events. The integration is designed to improve efficiency, reduce failure downtime, and keep equipment running in peak condition. In Milwaukee, Shah notes rising energy costs, especially peak-demand costs.
The region symbolizes what’s happening globally, he says.
“I developed software that will be adaptable to use anywhere in the world, because everyone has energy usage and facility management problems.”
Addressing problems through cloud-based software as they arise avoids the need for intense IT investment and helps building operators make quicker decisions on equipment needs instead of dipping heavily into capital expense budgets. Most of the facility management systems industry is moving towards cloud implementation. That’s primarily due to it being highly scalable in its use in facilities ranging from a small pizza operation, to multinational companies with millions of square feet of building space.
Also, companies are moving toward mobile and tablet technology and automated location identification within the buildings, he says. “They want to know where all of the equipment is and be able to send in a service request using their smartphones. Those are some of the technologies we are looking at and helping the industry expand in that area.”
What He Does Day-to-Day
Shah spends his days on the phone or in meetings—sometimes Web meetings to save transportation energy costs—with end users and building automation partners from companies such as Johnson and Honeywell, among many others in the industry. He also speaks with employees to ensure the end users’ needs are being met, and to strategize on how Eagle Technology can help the industry move forward.
What Led Him Into This Line of Work
Shah graduated with a B.S. in computer science from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, and in 1965, left his country to further his education and go into business. He went on to receive an M.S. in computer science from Utah State University and started working for Honeywell. His first business, Microcontrol Systems, developed and supported EMS for factories. He did a lot of work with Johnson Controls during his time in that business. Shah sold the company and spent a few years consulting before starting Eagle Technology, focusing on asset and facility management for buildings and factories.
What He Likes Best About the Work
Helping facility owners become successful and achieving their objectives is what Shah likes most about his work. When one of his employees gets an e-mail from an end user happy with Eagle’s technologies, he says, “it makes my day.”
His Greatest Challenge
Shah seeks to offer his building maintenance management system globally. Being that energy challenges are global, he knows what his company has to offer is applicable anywhere, “but it’s a challenge to learn how the business is conducted in each country, have sufficient capital, appropriate partners, and learn the local competitors,” he says.
He looks to tap into a program offered by the state of Wisconsin that helps small businesses expand internationally. His company also is in the process of developing a multilanguage website.