Mobile apps streamline service contractor tasks

Mobile devices are becoming essential tools for running a service-based contracting business. Here are two solutions that take advantage of iPhones and Androids. The first is service management software aiming to help streamline and oversee daily operations. The second is a compilation of niche applications HVAC contractors can use to boost efficiency and accuracy when calculating for several important niche tasks.   

Mobile devices are becoming essential tools for running a service-based contracting business. Here are two solutions that take advantage of iPhones and Androids. The first is service management software aiming to help streamline and oversee daily operations. The second is a compilation of niche applications HVAC contractors can use to boost efficiency and accuracy when calculating for several important niche tasks.   

FieldOne, www.fieldone.com, offers contractors a choice between the desktop-based solution FieldOne Terra or the cloud-based FieldOne Sky, which features the same features plus instant upgrades, automatic backups and unlimited storage in the cloud. Either program combines with the native mobile app FieldOne Mobile, which puts field management tools into the hands of IPhone or Android carrying service technicians, enhancing efficiency between them and the back office personnel.

Product features of FieldOne Terra and FieldOne Sky include: dispatch and scheduling and status, job management, reporting and inventory control. Both programs operate with Microsoft Outlook and integrate with QuickBooks and other accounting applications.

At the heart of the program is service dispatching and scheduling, which features drag and drop scheduling onto a color-coded graphical schedule board that can display days, weeks, or months for scheduling and workload allocation. The program has the ability to track all client service requests, inventory control for service requests, and service request delays. Dispatchers can set priorities for specific calls and leverage appropriate tech skills and send the preferred tech to the jobsite. 

The software supports different pricing schedules for various types of work as well as an unlimited number of labor pricing options. A company can charge by hourly rate, fixed rate or mark-up of a service tech's cost.

The program also sports full-featured GPS vehicle tracking that includes mapping and routing capabilities and the ability of office personnel to see all techs' service locations on interactive maps and the driving routes from their locations to the next service calls. Using these capabilities can save a contractor on gas and other travel costs.

The program also features Trip Detail reports which include start time, stop time, start and stop locations, maximum speed, travel duration, stop duration, number of miles and operating hours, enabling monitoring of speed violations, amount of idle time, and out-of-route trips and after hours vehicle usage for each driver.  

FieldOne also handles equipment tracking by customer or jobsite. Users can attach equipment to a work order, problem codes, parts and labor. 

Reporting features include full reporting for labor by type of work, problem code, account, jobsite, profitability, hours, pay type or other criteria. Management can also generate reports on technician profitability monitoring, customer sales analysis, equipment and service history, and detailed inventory reports.

The customer transaction window enables customers to login and view their work orders, schedules and status updates: review invoice details, place service requests and record feedback on service requests.

FieldOne Mobile enables service techs to perform scheduling, inventory, customer data, alerts and navigation because they can access up-to-the-minute information needed for their daily schedules, jobs and customers. They can also call and e-mail contacts directly from within the app, get turn-by-turn driving directions to the jobsites (with Android), update work schedule status in real-time, and see work order problems on the schedule. The app also allows techs to reassign schedules directly from the handset, change an unassigned slot to other techs; enter and track parts used on a job, access vendor, manufacturer, jobsite and client contact information; record completed schedule slot labor, and capture a customer's signature on-site.

Carmel Software HVAC Toolkit, www.carmelsoft.com, is a compilation software applications for Android and tablet devices. The 10-pack includes: HVAC Refrigerant Calcs, which performs HVAC superheat and subcooling refrigerant calcs for more than 75 different refrigerants; HVAC Quick Load, for quick rule-of-thumb HVAC cooling and heating load calcs; and HVAC Duct Sizer, which performs quick and simple duct sizing analysis and that enables users to size new and existing duct systems by inputting air flow, unit friction loss, velocity and/or aspect rations either directly or utilizing slider controls. The HVAC PT Chart allows easy viewing of the pressure-temperature properties for more than 75 refrigerants and support use of a slider control to specify exact pressures or temperatures to see corresponding temperatures or pressures.

The Psychrometrics app performs single-state HVAC psychrometric calculations for a wide range of barometric air pressure and the Steam Tables calculates the properties of saturated or superheated steam by specifying any two input properties.

Pipe sizing has four apps. Pipe Sizer Liquid sizes a liquid pipe run for many different types of liquids (or fluids), pipe material and fitting types. Pipe Sizer Steam sizes a steam pipe run for many different types pipe material and fitting types. Pipe Sizer Gas Low sizes a simple low (less than or equal to 1.5 psi) pressure gas piping system by inputting a number of piping and gas properties and Pipe Sizer Gas High sizes a simple high (greater than 1.5 psi) pressure gas piping system by inputting a number of piping and gas properties. All the modules include the capability to e-mail inputs and results.

Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at productpad@yahoo.com

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