I’d like to start by explaining some of the characteristics of a strong, solid business partnership. This way you can understand what makes the partnership between ICONICS and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) so significant. After that, I’ll delve into how this particular partnership started and how it continues to thrive through positive and supportive collaboration.

Good business partnerships align with their values, purpose, and strengths and solidify the partnership with active, straightforward, and honest communication. Moreover, a good business partner believes in what you believe in, often sharing overlapping values, integrity, and standards. And both entities invest their time in shared work collaboration. Of course, this collaboration should be smooth, engaging, and complementary to bring out the best in all parties involved. Ultimately, good business partners have mutual respect and conduct themselves accordingly and professionally. The partnership between ICONICS and IUOE is a beautiful “union” of all these elements, and that’s why it works so well. So now, let me tell you how it all began.

The International Union of Operating Engineers

The International Union of Operating Engineers is an advanced trade union that represents a diverse group of heavy operators and stationary engineers within the construction, pipeline, facilities management, and environmental industries. IUOE members also include mechanics, surveyors, building and maintenance operators for industrial complexes, and public employees from many areas. Founded in 1896, today it has more than 400,000 members in 123 local unions throughout the United States and Canada. Since IUOE members are expected to continually evolve and improve their skill sets to remain valuable and productive workers, the organization has the responsibility to train and prepare them for rapidly developing technologies and the ever-evolving job market. To achieve these goals, IUOE owns and operates its International Training and Educational Center (ITEC) in Crosby, Texas. This state-of-the-art facility contains everything needed to host, support, and develop the skills and knowledge of its members and offers amenities that encompass education, hospitality, transportation, entertainment, and building operations. It is in fact because of the ITEC facility that IUOE and ICONICS began their partnership. I’ll explain.

The Beginning of the ICONICS/IUOE Partnership

Comprised of stakeholders at every operational level, the IUOE is extremely conscious of operational efficiencies, cost savings, and occupant comfort – all the aspects essential to a building owner. Therefore, the organization needed an automation software solution to both efficiently operate and manage the ITEC facility and to be utilized as a training tool for its members. As the ITEC building operation and management team would be using multiple Building Automation Systems (BASs), they were interested in a platform that could sit on top of these BASs and provide standalone addressable devices to aggregate the various data points for analytics and curriculum development. Since IUOE was already using Microsoft Azure, in January 2019 the Microsoft Smart Buildings team introduced them to ICONICS, a Microsoft Partner of the Year multiple times over. After several meetings, and in accordance with IUOE’s preference to seek out partners rather than vendors, the organization partnered with ICONICS. The next step was to deploy ICONICS’ HMI/SCADA software solution.

Impressively, deployment took place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was completed mostly by teams working remotely from New York, California, Texas, Massachusetts, and Illinois utilizing conference calling and cloud computing, and only involved two personnel on-site: one building engineer and one IT expert.

IUOE saw immediate real-time benefits from ICONICS solutions such as:

  • Access to dynamic real-time data
  • Increased operational intelligence 
  • Actionable insight for historical and trending data analytics 
  • Visibility to all systems in the buildings (regardless of vendor/manufacturer) 
  • Ability to monitor and control facility comfort levels (temperature, humidity, and air quality)
  • Integration with Wellstat to measure the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) levels of CO2, particulate matter, volatile organic compound, formaldehyde, and ozone

And besides using ICONICS software for ITEC’s management and operation, the platform is also used in IUOE’s advanced Building Automation classes. Students can learn from a real system with real-time data from real equipment so are not limited to a lab setting, which is a huge benefit for its students. According to Nasser Dollah, IUOE’s Director of Stationary Training, “The ICONICS system is really a very important piece of the entire education department. It's probably one of the best teaching tools that I could ever have. ICONICS excels in teaching in the classroom but especially in teaching fault detection and diagnostics. When my students see ICONICS, they directly want to know, “Where did this come from? How do I get this in my building?”

Advancing the Partnership Through the IUOE 2022 Partner Conference

Since IUOE is always looking for ways to advance their educational and training program and improve their teaching methodology, they had the idea to host a partner/trainer conference. The 2022 Partner Conference was held at their ITEC facility on September 13 and 14 and aimed at bringing together the organizations’ partners and training directors to share best practices, discuss use cases, network with peers, and showcase new technologies and teaching techniques. The organization also coordinated a partner vendor show at the conference, so individual partners could provide demos of their technology and have one-on-one conversations with the trainers. ICONICS was there to take part in this conference and support IUOE.

And like the other partners, ICONICS showcased its software at the conference. Attendees saw first-hand the power of ICONICS through demos and learned the details of its capabilities from the ICONICS team. The team was able to share knowledge and interact with the attendees. Nasser Dollah was also there to explain how IUOE uses ICONICS to control and manage their ITEC facility and how he uses the software in the classroom to teach its members. He commented, “ICONICS is a tool that connects all the ancillary devices and brings this information into the system, so the operations team can do proper demand response.” And added, “ICONICS software also enables operational optimization and predictive and preventive maintenance extremely well. When I talk about demand response, I always use the three P's: preventive, predictive, and profit. They all go together. And that's so important for engineers, building owners, and managers to remember. If you're doing proper preventive and predictive maintenance, this means you're saving money that you can back into your profit.”

What the Future Looks Like for ICONICS & IUOE

So, what does the future look like for ICONICS and IUOE? I asked Nasser this question, and he had this to say, “Really just what we've been doing for the past two years. We will continue to work closely with ICONICS and to evolve and improve our system.” As for ICONICS, we also will continue to work closely with IUOE, to help them to optimally operate their ITEC facility and teach their members.

Truly, ICONICS is a better company because of our partners since we learn from and grow because of them. Our partners are integral to our business strategy and to our success. And our partnership with IUOE exemplifies this.