Nearly one year after a landmark $30 billion merger with Tyco, many of the most highly regarded names in American fire protection – Simplex, SimplexGrinnell, Ansul, Chemguard and Williams Fire & Hazard Control – are in the process of being combined into a single multi-industrial giant, Johnson Controls.
An early example of the new strategy came in June when the former Tyco SimplexGrinnell and Tyco Fire Protection Products businesses exhibited at the National Fire Protection Association conference in Boston under the Johnson Controls banner, said Chris Woodcock, director of Communications for Johnson Controls’ building solutions business in North America.
“Ultimately everything will migrate to be under the Johnson Controls brand,” Woodcock said. “The Tyco SimplexGrinnell and Tyco Fire Protection Products brand names will go away, but the same excellence in technology and performance will still be available. The same people with the same expertise will be developing products and performing fire protection installation and service for our customers.”
In May, the multinational conglomerate headquartered in Cork, Ireland announced a new strategy to transition the brand identity of the Tyco businesses and related product brands into a unified portfolio marketed under Johnson Controls, explained Woodcock.
The merger, completed in September 2016, brought Johnson Controls, a leader in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and building controls systems, together with Tyco, a leader in fire protection and security systems. Companies that operated as separate installation and service businesses under the former Tyco corporate structure, including Tyco SimplexGrinnell, Tyco Integrated Security and Tyco Integrated Fire & Security, are being integrated into the combined Johnson Controls organization and their brand identity is transitioning to Johnson Controls, Woodcock said.
On the products side of the business, well-known brands such as Simplex, Ansul, Chemguard, Pyro Chem, Williams, SaboFoam, CWSI and Sensormatic are now part of the Johnson Controls product portfolio.
In many cases, the merger brings together product lines that complement one another, explained Peter Ryan, Senior Commercialization Manager, Global Fire Detection Products at Johnson Controls. For example, Tyco Fire Protection Products’ heritage as a leader in fire alarm and sprinkler technology complements Johnson Controls’ long standing expertise in automatic systems for regulating climate control in big buildings.
“Johnson Controls is a leader in building technologies and solutions,” Woodcock said. “That’s a good fit with the work SimplexGrinnell did in designing and installing systems, whether a retrofit or in new construction, and then servicing those systems to meet code requirements and keep ready for an emergency situation”
According to Ryan, examples of a wide array of the different Johnson Controls product lines were on display at one booth during NFPA, including fire detection, fire sprinkler, fire suppression and special hazards. “Under the Johnson Controls umbrella we showed the full breadth of our fire protection product, installation and service capabilities,” Woodcock said. “That’s how our building solutions business will go to trade shows in the future.”
Ryan noted that also on display at NFPA were examples of Simplex addressable notification technology, which functions as an integral part of a fire detection and alarm system driven by a Simplex ES control panel.
“Each device has its own address on the fire alarm system and the intelligence to communicate with the fire alarm panel. So when a situation occurs, you know the precise location and an alarm or appropriate voice message can be delivered to that specific area to help ensure the safety of building occupants,” Ryan said.
Rather than having to test notification system devices manually, addressable notification enables appliance ‘selftesting,’ which is performed through programming of the fire alarm control panel, Ryan said. That same technology can be useful when applied to climate control.
“It lowers the cost of maintenance and minimizes business disruption during code-required notification system testing,” Ryan said. “You can set the system up to conduct testing in the way that makes sense in your environment. Johnson Controls now also offers addressable Simplex TrueAlert ES speakers, which enable customers to deliver targeted audio messages in a fire or other emergency. This provides the flexibility to deliver one message to certain parts of the facility and a different message in other areas. It’s a great advancement in fire protection and emergency communications.”
According to Woodcock, the core philosophy behind Simplex technologies such as addressable notification -- designing backward/forward compatible systems that provide simple, cost-effective migration to new technology platforms -- is now part of Johnson Controls.
“We want to stand by customers for the life of their systems,” Woodcock said. “If a customer has an older fire alarm system, the whole infrastructure and peripheral devices don’t have to be ripped out. A simple swap of components at the control panel can be performed instead. Without a lot of disruption or cost you can bring the whole system up to our latest technology.”
Also on display at NFPA was the new ANSULacoustic nozzle, designed for use in data centers and server rooms. It has been shown that today’s improved hard disk drives, while offering improved efficiency in storing data, have become highly sensitive to sound, particularly the sound produced by inert gas fire suppression systems. The acoustic nozzle decreases the acoustic footprint during a discharge, protecting important data not only from fire but noise as well.
Other Johnson Controls fire protection equipment on display at NFPA includes:
• AquaMist ULF, a complete fire protection solution including pumps, valves, discharge nozzles, pipes and fittings offers improved ventilation and continuous protection. The solution can reduce supply piping and water storage tanks, saving space in data centers that have limited floor and ceiling space.
• Data Center Solutions, a full-range of clean agent solutions for data centers that both detect and suppress fires:
• ANSUL® INERGEN® Clean Agent Fire Suppression System with iFLOW Technology, an effective fire suppressant designed for normally-occupied areas containing electronic equipment that requires no cleanup, contains no chemicals and is non-toxic.
• AUTOPULSE Z-20, an addressable agent releasing control panel, integrates simply with approved fire suppression systems to provide the release of clean agents, carbon dioxide, dry chemical and foam.
• Electronic Sprinklers, a ULlisted sprinkler system in which all sprinklers needed to control a fire operate earlier in a fire’s development to help minimize damage. This slows for increased hazards and storage heights, as well as greater storage flexibility,
• Quell K-34 that offers 55-feet ceiling-only cold storage protection, the highest in the industry. QUELL systems help maximize storage and lower costs, while improving system flexibility.
In keeping with the new brand strategy, the SimplexGrinnell fire sprinkler installation and service business in the U.S. is destined to go to market a few months down the road as Grinnell Fire Protection Solutions. “This is another example of how the Johnson Controls brand strategy leverages the strong, trusted brands that made Tyco an industry leader,” Woodcock said.