Haier
Nilesh Shah
Head of Marketing and Business Planning,
Johnson Controls – Hitachi Air Conditioning India Limited

Automation and comfort to rule smart air conditioning technologies in the post COVID-19 world

Experts and reputed agencies worldwide are calling coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as the most challenging crisis the world faces since the Second World War. This has forced majority of countries across the world to enforce lockdown and urge people to remain at home and practice social distancing. This pandemic is leading the world toward a new era of smarter technologies and automation.

Amid lockdown, while people are managing to work without domestic help to maintain social distancing, the demand for fully automated smart air conditioners will drive the demand as customers are more concerned about maintaining social distance than anything else.

In the post-pandemic world, automation will play the greatest role in our daily tasks at home or at workplace as the willingness to minimize human interaction increases to ensure both safety and comfort.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to stay at home making us realize the true value of home. Right from sensor technologies minimizing touch points to networked devices offering comfort and ease at homes, consumers are looking for intervention of smart technologies to make their mundane tasks interesting and easier.

The role of air conditioning, which is more than a luxury these days, grows beyond its conventional role of simply conditioning the air. Amongst other things, air conditioning is to be adaptable, internet-enabled, aesthetically appealing, energy-efficient, and laced with built-in smart sensors that assess the needs of the customers even before the customer does.

Hitachi is prepared to address the holistic air conditioning requirements of its customers. With 96 SKUs, including new additions of 1.25 TR models and Takeshi ACs with powerful 15 m airflow, the company’s new lineup focuses on comfort and automation along with improving the indoor air experience for its consumers.

The company understands the importance of air in our lives. Air surrounds us, continuously energizing, cooling, and warming. It can be unpredictable and sometimes challenging, but when air is in harmony with us, everything seems much easier. The vision is to create air that makes life better.

With the company’s expertise, it has conditioned the unpredictable air and it offers the perfect Hitachi Air experience to the customers, which is balanced, harmonious, and pleasant. An offering like no other, Hitachi Air is a combination of fresh air, clean air, odor-free air, surround air, and silent air. Hitachi Air ensures a perfectly balanced indoor living environment by conditioning the air through its five innovative technologies.

Allowing consumers to stay cool with intelligent cooling machines, the company has also introduced X Series this year. This is a revolutionary and innovative series, which comes with high-end engineered technology that seamlessly blends with one’s exquisite taste for premium spaces.

Powered with iClean+ technology, the Xceptionally Clean ACs auto clean the AC filter to offer an ever-consistent cooling. The Xtravagantly Featuristic ACs are fully loaded machines with intelligent image-sensor technology for controlled airflow. Fresh air is the need of the hour of every Indian home and the iFresh-FrostWash technology in Xtraordinary Fresh ACs perfectly freezes and cleans the coil to deliver a fresh indoor environment.

The Takeshi air conditioners deliver Xtremely Powerful air throw for uniform cooling for one’s spacious luxurious homes and the highly efficient machines with astounding 6.1 ISEER rating (with unique DFET technology) deliver more savings and give Xcellent Performance.

It is the company’s constant endeavor to give the best to its customers, and the benefits of inverter ACs over fixed speed ACs are already known to the customers. In line with this thought, 69 percent of the entire lineup is inverter, of which the entire 5-star and 4-star split AC range is inverter only.

Development of energy-efficient solution is a well deliberated and conscientious strategy for the company, and in order to deliver that, the inverter ACs are loaded with iconic features, such as Penta Sensor technology, stepless compressor control, 100 percent cooling capacity at 43°C, filter clean indicator, and stabilizer-free operation, which deliver better performance and energy efficiency.

There is also a rising need for IoT-based products, which will decide on the basis of the heat-load inside the room, the ideal temperature required and then the customer has the choice to increase or decrease the temperature as per his requirement.

While the company offers Wi-Fi connected air conditioners, it will also introduce airCloud Home shortly, which allows consumers to control their air conditioner from anywhere. This user-friendly app can connect multiple units in a home through a smartphone to offer ultimate comfort and automation.

airCloud Home is fully-compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, enabling consumers to change the temperature hands-free while cooking, cleaning, or handling any other task at home. With airCloud Home, one can control air conditioning with one touch, even while away from home.

Hitachi understood the latent wish of top end residential customers, high-end cafes, and restaurants and will introduce in the market a new range of product called SET FREE mini. SET FREE mini works on variable refrigerant flow principle and offers completely new experience for the premium homes and spaces wherein the customer will have an advantage of choosing from a huge basket of eight different types of indoor units, five types of controllers, and space saving by having compact ODU ranging from 3 HP to 7 HP capacity. Over and above, this new range has a facility to connect 130 percent of IDU capacity using cooling load diversity of the usage pattern.

The call of the hour is to manage air conditioning systems in simpler manner and minimize human interaction. SET FREE mini can be centrally controlled by controllers or by new innovative IoT VRF management mobile app – airCloud Pro. An intuitive app that anyone can use, airCloud Pro makes managing air conditioning systems simpler than ever before, and minimizes human interaction. This technology will allow customers to remotely control the VRF system(s) from a single mobile app, saving travel time, and maintaining social distancing.

Also, with the extended severe winters, everyone is realizing that heating is as essential as cooling for even plains. Therefore, the demand for air conditioners, which are both cooling and heating based, are energy efficient, and are safer and healthier than traditional heating options, is going to increase. To address this, Hitachi offers inverter split ACs with a working range of –15–52°C and SET FREE mini with a working range of –20–52°C.

The company has also taken many initiatives toward improving our post-sales services to ensure that the customers have a long-lasting relationship with us. These include online live chat lines, 24×7 customer care number, and product demo videos. However, the nation-wide shutdown has had a significant impact on the after-sales and servicing of all electronic products.

As soon as the lockdown opens, the service team will be required to maintain a very high level of hygiene and safety protocol while visiting customers. To ensure the safety of the customers without posing any risk of virus spread, Hitachi will be appropriately training them and equipping them with high standard PPE kits so as to allow an efficient addressable of consumer queries and complaints.

Overall, Hitachi believes the shift to smart homes and workplaces in the post COVID-19 lifestyle will push Indian HVAC industry to bring innovation, automation, and comfort by leveraging futuristic technologies. 5G will also accelerate this smart home and smart commercial spaces revolution in near future, and the consumer of the new informed world will definitely expect this category to reshape and reinvent smart air conditioning technologies for future needs.

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