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Industry Person of the Week- Tim Skell

IPOW Tim Skell

Industry Person of the Week- Tim Skell

Our Industry Person of the Week is Tim Skell, Global HVACR Application Engineering Manager (VFDs) at ABB Inc.

Q: How did you get started working in your field?

Tim: I’ve always enjoyed understanding how equipment (machines) work. Variable frequency drives (VFDs) are essential for controlling the speed of motors in those machines. Being an electrical engineer who was intrigued by the mechanical side of the world, I naturally gravitated towards VFDs. With VFDs, I could apply my electrical expertise for a product used in a mechanical world. Over time, I really started to appreciate the HVACR (fans, pumps compressors) and Water & Waste Water (pumps) markets. Eventually my love for HVACR won out, and that became my focus.

Q: What do you love the most about your job? What are you most proud of?

Tim: Each day provides new opportunities and challenges. We are provided a challenge and then determine how we can become the solution. It’s fun ad exciting working at a company that is continuously improving our product by adding features based on market/application need. If I can’t solve a challenge today, I work with R&D to make sure we can solve that challenge in the future. As far as what I’m most proud of… that’s easy, my team of HVACR Application Engineers, both in the US and globally. They have a great technical understanding of the product, applications, communication protocols, best practices, understand the commercial aspect, and love to listen and then teach.

Q: What advice would you give to someone considering this line of work or new to the field?

Tim: When someone asks you a question, don’t just quickly answer it and move to the next question. Pause, and ask yourself, why are they asking this question? Why is this question important to them or their situation? You’ll learn more by understanding the “why” behind the question. And in doing so, you’ll not only learn more yourself, you’ll also provide them a better answer.

Q:  Can you talk about a project you recently worked on?

Tim: We launched the ACH580 series of VFD. It replaced the ACH550 series. Now keep in mind the ACH550 was out there for over 15 years, so it was a well loved product. People like what they know, they like what they are comfortable with. And sometimes people view that change is bad. This meant we really had to knock the ACH580 out of the park and get it right. So here is what I did… I took my years of experience from teaching VFD classes to end-users, along with VFD authorized startup classes presented to electrical, mechanical, and controls contractors – and I thought about what they loved and didn’t love about the ACH550. I thought about the questions they’d ask in class. What features did they wish we had? What could we do to make things safer for them? Where would they get hung up during lab exercises? Then I went about making the Primary Settings user interface of the ACH580 easy-to-use to achieve the tasks that various contractor types and end-users care about. The result? The field loved the ACH580 usability.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

Tim: If you’d like to learn more about VFDs, applying VFDs, or topics surrounding VFDs, then check out our playlists on Youtube. I’m partial to all the playlists that say HVACR or ACH580 in the title.

Let’s connect on LinkedIn. I also encourage you to follow #FunFactFriday on LinkedIn, as on Fridays I enjoy posting technical facts about VFDs, pumps, fans, control systems, and HVACR in general.


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