Interview Jose Mª Ortiz
José Mª Ortiz, CEO of AFEC, Asociación De Fabricantes de Equipos de Climatización
ceis: What path/relevant facts define the evolution of AFEC within the Spanish and international market?
A: Among the relevant facts or activities that define the evolution of AFEC in Spain, the following are worthy of mention: the assumption in 1985 of the secretariat of the Standardisation Committee AEN/CTN 100. Air conditioning, the sponsorship of the sector-based AIR CONDITIONING trade fair, market statistics, the promotion of exports among Spanish manufacturers, the importance that the Association attaches to informing its members and, above all, the professionalization of the Association’s management, pioneer at the time, that has enabled AFEC to be a leading association in the air conditioning sector.
At international level, the first step was taken in 1986 when AFEC became fully-fledged member of Eurovent, European Committee of Air Processing Team-Makers and Cooling, followed more recently by AFEC joining EHPA, European Heat Pump Association; these milestones are complemented with the cooperation relationships being held with EPEE, European Partnership for Energy and the Environment.
ceis: What is your opinion regarding the future of the energy efficiency sector in Spain and Europe in the short and medium term?
A: First of all, energy efficiency is an objective that cannot be waived by the European Union. Therefore, both at short and medium term all European and national policies will be targeting this aim.
Secondly, and as a consequence of the above, energy efficiency has become an argument in the sale of buildings, installations and equipment, so it does not look as if there might be any backing down in this sense.
In addition, the environmental benefits derived from this efficiency are obvious and are admitted at all levels, both private and public, so there is a promising future in terms of its development and implementation.
To conclude, Europe, and Spain precisely, are clearly lacking energy sources and it is obvious that saving them, i.e. energy efficiency, must be a priority for economic and social reasons, the importance of which will grow as time goes by.
ceis: What to do you think about the current situation of the energy efficiency market and AFEC’s position within the latter? What procedures have been established to keep on growing in the future?
A: As I mentioned earlier on, the market requires, nominally at least, that the installations and, therefore, the equipment included in them have energy efficiency as their primary objective.
In addition to this general demand made by the customers, there is the appearance of laws, standards and technical codes that not only foster and promote this efficiency but also raise objections to the presence of equipment in the market having an energy performance non compliant with the minimum limits established.
From AFEC, in collaboration with our associated companies, we promote energy efficiency, which usually goes hand in hand with technology development, in all national and European forums. As part of this objective, we also promote third-party certification of the characteristics and energy performance, among other, of the different systems offered to the market.
This certification makes consumers confident and, at the same time, teaches them the basic concepts of machinery, such as the parameters and values that define efficient equipment.
ceis: What are the main difficulties or facts that AFEC will have to face in a short period of time?
A: The main challenge will certainly be maintaining and increasing in time the level of service and usefulness of the Association among its members, as well as its representativeness within the sector and vis-à-vis the public administrations.
In the short term, and taking into account the current difficult economic situation, another difficulty to be faced is getting the companies to attach value to the importance of being part of and supporting the Association, so that the latter can act as catalyst for their interests and needs and be the spokesperson that defends them in the forums of interest for the companies.
Due to the unstoppable internationalisation of our sector and how, as a result, Spanish manufacturers are losing representativeness to the detriment of transnational companies, another difficulty the Association faces is convincing the Administration that the proposals and/or demands of manufacturers do not correspond to the corporate interests of such multinationals, but to the needs and specificities of our country and the companies developing their activities in it.
At international level and, due to the aforementioned, AFEC has to carry out the difficult task of properly representing and defending the position and opinion of Spanish manufacturers, whose presence and importance has been declining with time.
ceis: What would you highlight of AFEC’s attitude towards quality management?
A: AFEC has a positive attitude towards quality management.
We understand that quality is one of the factors that can help Spanish manufacturers to remain in the marketplace, since for many years now our manufacturers can hardly compete on the basis of just offering low prices.
On the other hand, our commitment to quality entails a concept of company that is absolutely linked to innovation, another key factor for companies to survive.
Further thinking in terms of quality is required when companies decide to address foreign markets in a constant manner. It is normally accepted, and practice so confirms it, that exports are vital for companies and it is obvious that regular exports and success in other markets cannot be achieved without minimum quality criteria.
Una reflexión adicional relacionada con la calidad se plantea en el momento en que las empresas deciden abordar, de forma continuada los mercados exteriores. Es normalmente aceptado, y la práctica así lo corrobora, que la exportación es vital para las empresas y es obvio que no se puede exportar con regularidad y conquistar mercados sin unos baremos mínimos de calidad.
ceis: In this sector, safety, standardisation or certification are concepts of huge value, to what extent does the Association focus on these and what actions and solutions does it propose?
A: As I already mentioned in the first question, since AENOR was set up, AFEC has actively collaborated in standardisation activities holding the Secretariat of Committee AEN/CTN 100. The increasing importance of standardisation at European and global level has reinforced the commitment of the Association and of the member companies regarding this activity.
New working groups have been set up within the Committee to this end. These focus on the follow-up of the different stages in the preparation of international standards and the origin of UNE standards, i.e. national standards.
AFEC, as an active member both of the EUROVENT Board of Directors and Working Commissions, has fostered the extension of the Certification among the companies for it to be considered an element of competitiveness and quality assurance without which it would be very difficult to remain in the marketplace.
In line with this policy, AFEC offers its members a specific technical assistance service for those taking their first steps in certification and has signed an agreement with Eurovent Certification to reduce the costs of this activity and disseminate the advantages of certification within the air-conditioning sector.
ceis: What new projects are you involved in at the moment?
A: Of all the projects currently being developed at different levels at AFEC, attention should be drawn to the technical guide on heat pumps that intends to compile and deeply update the basic concepts, technology development and new applications of this equipment in light of the following Directives: 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, 2010/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings and 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products.
Knowledge and promotion of aerothermal and geotermal heat pumps is another project on which the Association is working extremely hard.
Worthy of mention are other projects of relevance for the development of the sector such as the follow-up and promotion of Renove Plans for air-conditioning systems in the different Spanish regions, or the improvement of market statistics by using new equipment and new segmentations.
ceis: What do you appreciate the most of ceis: as collaborator of AFEC?
A: Firstly, their willingness to collaborate with AFEC and their constant participation in the Association’s Permanent Technical Committee.
Secondly, I would like to highlight the outstanding performance of ceis: in standardisation activities, providing AFEC with great support in the management of the Secretariat of the mentioned Committee AEN/CTN 100.
And, above all, the wonderful work that ceis: has been carrying out in favour of the certification of equipment, a task we at AFEC admire and share as a common objective leading to the benefit of the sector and manufacturers.