A Day in the Life of a Melink Engineer

Engineers serve a variety of roles at Melink Corporation — application, project, tech support, product design, and field service. In honor of National Engineer Week (Feb 16-22, 2020), Melink employee-owners are sharing what they do. Read along in a day in the life of…

Tom Critchfield
Quality Engineer & Field Service Engineer

I am currently in a dual role at Melink. As a Quality Engineer, I typically wake up early and log on to our internal server to see the Test & Balance queue status. I’ll catch up on emails and have a check-in phone call with the Field Service Manager to see if there is anything urgent from the customer service team or field technicians. The rest of my day consists of reviewing submitted reports, providing feedback to technicians, and planning potential quality assurance audits for the following days or weeks. Depending on the day, I will also be involved in meetings and technician education programs.

Then, as a Field Service Engineer, a large chunk of my time is spent traveling and getting to the various T&B job sites. This includes driving, flying, and speaking with border agents to gain access to Canada. Once on site, I speak with the site superintendent, mechanical contractor, electrical contractor, and anyone else I’ll need to be working with to complete the job. This is followed by data collection and report construction. The rest of the time is just balance completion and finishing the report.

Josh Gerlock
Business Development Manager

With my engineering degree, I have become a technical sales consultant for Melink. I often start my day studying industry news and learning about the latest technology trends that my customers are following. From there, I check for any emails that came in the night before while I was not at work and take care of any pressing replies. Next, I move on to new projects by finalizing proposals and creating an energy analysis. The energy analysis is used to show our potential customers how much energy and money our Intelli-Hood® system can save them. On any given day I could be presenting the analysis to customers through a webinar or over the phone to help make sure they understand everything. Part of the day involves being reactive as well by fielding calls and answering customers’ questions. With products that are very technical, there are plenty of times I do not have all the answers, but I always know where to go to make sure I find them or connect my customers with someone who does. Almost three years in, I am still learning new things, so I am always on my toes!

Anna Rusconi
Account Engineer

The Account Engineer role at Melink varies from day to day from working with the customer to working with the technicians to collecting data analytics.  When we receive a Test & Balance quote request from one of our national accounts, I look through the mechanical prints to prepare a quote. The quote covers the scope of work for the visit, as well as the estimated time needed for an on-site technician. Before our technicians visit on site, I make sure they are equipped with all the information they need to successfully complete the job. If the technician has any questions while on site, I work with them and our site contacts to ensure the visit goes as smooth as possible. Once the T&B is completed and the final report is sent to the customer, I will work with the customer to help them understand the information. 

Also, when we visit customers or have customers visit our office, we provide them with an overview of their project data from the previous years. I work with the National Account Manager to pull data to present to the customers. I really enjoy this position because each day is different, and it is rewarding to help the customers and the internal team. 

Darren Witter
Vice President of Human Resources

Earlier in my career, I applied my engineering education to more “traditional” engineering vocations. These included product development, manufacturing, design, commissioning, and green building construction and operation. These experiences were incredibly valuable, and I enjoyed them immensely. Now, after more than two decades into my profession, I apply my engineering principles and training in other ways. Though different from what I first envisioned as an engineering student, these ways are equally exciting, challenging, and fun! I help fellow Melink employee-owners with career development by providing training on technical concepts, soft skills, company values, and lessons from my personal experience. I meet students and prospective employees and explain our unique company mission and culture, our products and services, and career opportunities.  I provide tours to visitors of Melink’s Zero-Energy headquarters, one of the greenest buildings on the planet, and inspire them to be more sustainable in their lives. I seek ways to improve processes and strengthen our businesses. And, most importantly, I help to care for our greatest asset at Melink… our employees. Years of solving technical problems as an engineer have helped prepare me to now solve business challenges, to guide and mentor others, and to make the world a better place!

Sarah Evans
Embedded Software Engineer

As an engineer at Melink, my job is to take the ideas for what we want PositiV® or Intelli-Hood® to do and implement them. Since I started working at Melink, my main focus has been on PositiV, our building health monitor system. My work includes programming the PositiV devices, maintaining an application for setting up the devices, collecting and analyzing data, and testing. While all these tasks involve software development, each problem is unique and can require a number of different solutions. Essentially, my day-to-day includes solving puzzles, which I really enjoy.

Want to be a Melink engineer? Check out our Careers page.

How to Read and Interpret a TAB Report

HVAC system testing, adjusting, and balancing (TAB) is one of the most misunderstood trades.  In spite of its 50-year history, many contractors believe to do TAB, technicians simply need to show up with a flow hood, read grilles, hand over a piece of paper, and ask to be paid thousands of dollars. There happens to be a bit more to it than that.

Among the complexities of the trade, the final TAB report is perhaps the most critical and most misunderstood.  When the painters are done, the walls change color. When electricians are done, the
lights come on.  When the HVAC technicians are done, the building heats and cools.  When the TAB professional is done, he or she simply hands over paperwork and the other trades and owners simply must take their word for it. That paperwork is the TAB firm’s final product and should be professional, complete, concise, and as useful as possible for the end user.

Whether that end user is a design professional, facilities manager, property owner, municipal inspector, or other concerned party, the TAB report should be written and compiled in such a way that even a layman can identify any issues that potentially impact building performance.

There are five elements that any should be consistent in any TAB report:

  1.  Overall professionalism
  2.  Certification
  3.  Remarks and deficiencies
  4.  Discrepancies between design values and actual data
  5.  Mechanical drawings and floor plans

Overall professionalism speaks for itself.  Are the numbers hand-scrawled on a piece of paper or is the TAB report well-presented and organized? Does it appear to be a document reflecting the skills and expertise of the industry veteran who produced it?  Basic elements that should be included in a professional report include: an executive summary / general remarks, distribution list, table of contents, symbols and abbreviations, as well as corresponding mechanical drawings and certification.

In today’s litigious society, I’ve had more than half a dozen of my TAB reports subpoenaed in legal proceedings.  Every TAB report I compile is issued with the mindset that it may end up in the hands of a jury selected from a variety of backgrounds and be examined by professional witnesses who will scrutinize it’s
content. Once that standard is achieved, the report should be able to be tell the overall story in a way that virtually ANYONE can understand, regardless of background.

Certification is a critical element of any TAB report.  Sure, there are many incredibly capable technicians out there who operate without certification.  However, certification ensures that the
professionals who compiled the report are vetted, tested, and properly equipped to perform the work.  Certification also ensures that the TAB firm and TAB professional are current to their certifying
organizations’ standards.  Finally, certification provides recourse to the end user should there be issues with the TAB report or work performed by the TAB contractors.

Remarks and deficiencies are very often overlooked.  The professional TAB report should have both an executive summary / general remarks section up front to explain overall conditions and issues. If applicable, the summary should be followed by an itemized list of items that remain to be corrected.  There is a growing trend to include pictures of deficiencies as well. Often such deficiencies are corrected during the course of the test and balance work and by the time the final TAB report is issued, there are no remaining issues.  If that is the case, there should still be general remarks explaining the scope of work and conditions at times of testing.

Discrepancies between design values and actual data collected. The actual test data can be confusing and tedious.  Especially reports containing hundreds of pages of numbers and readings.  Even to the well-trained eye, reviewing a TAB report can be like trying to read the streaming code in the Matrix movies.  However, anyone can read “percentage of design” and determine that any item not within +/- 10% or (5% in some cases) needs further review.  ANY item not within design tolerances should be accompanied by a remark explaining why.  The remarks should also explain what corrective action can be taken, or if a corrective action is even needed.  Again, this can be a critical part of the report that should be written to stand out, even to the layman, without being overly technical or confusing.

Finally, let’s talk about mechanical drawings and floor plans. I have the great fortune of providing training to professionals from all over the world. These professionals come from a wide variety of backgrounds.  The number one complaint I hear from design professionals and facilities managers is that many TAB reports are missing floor plans / mechanical drawings that correspond to the reported data.  This is the number one item in any TAB report that makes the report practical and functional to the end user.

There are many instances where plans are not provided to the TAB contractor, or cannot be removed from a facility.  There are many options around these situations.  From a simple, hand-drawn
ceiling plan indicating supply, return, and exhaust diffusers, to taking a picture of the immovable plans and numbering the inlets, outlets, and equipment. You can use a CAD program, or even something as simple as PowerPoint to provide a visual reference. Regardless of how this is accomplished, these numbered plans and/or drawings are the glue that bind the TAB report together, and MUST be included.

The TAB report is a critical element of the construction process that assures the design team’s intent was met. It also assures the building owner that they have the systems they paid for.

The TAB report should reflect the professionalism and skills of the technicians who provided the work behind it and who ultimately compiled and published it.  However, it is a meaningless collection of data if it is not reviewed, understood, and used.