Revolutionary change within a long standing, multi-billion dollar industry occurs infrequently at best. For such a change to occur the expected results would have to significantly overcome the initial expense; but more so our own perception and way of doing things. Pre-Insulated duct seems to be achieving just that.
For almost a century now, metal frame duct ventilation systems have been the only viable option for commercial HVAC systems. Consumers have needed to cover the cost of the product as well as the added expense of installing and maintaining tons of large metal sheets, layered with large volumes of fibrous materials for insulation.
Organising installers takes time and increases the potential for human error. The heavy and cumbersome nature of the material also increases risk to health and safety while the considerable storage space needed remains unproductive and a constant inconvenience throughout the entire installation period.
Withstanding all this, sheet metal fabricators have grown into large companies benefitting from a niche market affording them constant and specialised work. However, emerging trends to produce greener and more efficient products have prompted governments to impose stricter sanctions; limiting carbon emissions and forcing manufactures to devise products requiring less energy to build and operate.
The global warming potential or GWP of a product takes into account the energy needed for its production and lifespan. The total embodied energy of a product can then be calculated and given an efficiency rating.
Recent advancements in closed-cell technology along with the need for better standards encouraged manufacturers to engineer a much lighter and rigid panelling system. Pre-insulated duct or rigid duct eliminates all the additional costs associated with metal ductwork. One particular example; the ALP system has been measured outperforming sheet metal systems by a very noticeable 85%.
This incredible revelation caught our attention when it was first introduced into the Australian market in 2015. Pre-insulated duct has of course been around for quite some time but had previously offered no real incentive and therefore gained no traction.
News on the considerable savings in carbon emissions, time and money prompted interest from regulators and engineers who have since supported the use of pre-insulated duct through approval ratings and recommendations. Savvy businessmen have also shown interest; and as such have now found themselves an opportunity to capture a large proportion of the HVAC insulation market, long held by the sheet metal giants.
Jim Malek of Ductus Air has been providing HVAC solutions for 15 years. His knowledge of the industry as well as prior laboratorial experience allowed him to foresee the rising demand for a new system and has been leading the charge ever since. I spoke with him on how he sees the industry’s future and what he thinks will happen to his sheet metal competitors.
After speaking with Jim I did my own research into the advanced chemical and HVAC industry market to see what others had to say. I was particularly interested to see what market insights I could find regarding market share and sale volume figures for the industry. Global market analysts collect raw data to define trends in business sectors to enable informed decisions on potential market outcomes.
After reading through some of the reports on the global HVAC industry as well as the industries supplying the materials used to manufacture both pre-insulated duct and the fibreglass materials used in sheet metal systems; the demand for pre-insulated duct is predicted to increase significantly.
Other notable points to consider in this David and Goliath battle were that the global market for this sector was predicted to rise significantly over the coming years with the entire HVAC global market predicted to reach US $183 billion by 2025. Most of the demand in this sector would come from construction projects within the Asia Pacific region where the demand for the fibreglass materials associated with sheet metal ductwork is for the first time in history expected to decline.