DESIGN-BUILD 6.0 (Carmel Software, www.carmelsoft.com, 800/339-6030) is a suite of five software programs that automate the entire HVAC design-build process. The solution, which is based upon the latest ASHRAE Fundamentals, performs HVAC design-build analysis including commercial and residential load calculations, duct sizing, cost estimating and proposal generation. The programs come with pre-formatted customizable databases and accept user-supplied equipment, material and parts.
The user creates an HVAC load calculation project for the building in Loadsoft-6.0, which performs calculations for commercial and industrial loads, or Residential 5.0, which does the math for residential and light commercial loads. Loadsoft calculations use the 2005 Fundamentals radiant time series method; Residential 5.0 calculations are based upon the ASHRAE 2001 Fundamentals residential algorithms (Chapter 28). These modules include databases for 200+ walls, roofs, floors and windows.
Service calls in the Waiting List can be routed to find the closest tech.
Both load calculation modules are compatible with Autodesk Building Systems and Autodesk Revit (a building design and documentation system that coordinates changes among project participants), for easy data import of building information from the ABS or Revit drawing, including room dimensions and number of people. Importing that information eliminates the need for manual input of that data for each room and system. Afterward, the user can export the results back to ABS to Revit drawing to aid in duct and piping design.
After the building is modeled and the total cooling and heating loads calculated, the project designer/estimator imports the weather, address, airflow values and other data for each room into the next module in the process, Duct Size 6.0, which provides total duct system analysis to facilitate proper sizing of the ducts and fans that serve the system. (Duct Size 6.0 also works with AutoCAD, enabling the designer to import a single-line drawing and export it back as a double-line or 3-D drawing.)
The duct-sizing program can generate numerous reports, including duct dimension and airflow breakdown, a heat-loss breakdown, friction-loss breakdown, sound-power breakdown and a material list that can be imported into Estimate 6.0.
Using all the information from the load calculation and duct-sizing modules, the estimating module creates an estimate of final total costs based on the mechanical take-off and can generate a proposal exportable to Microsoft Word or Excel for presentation to the customer.
The estimating database includes many types of HVAC equipment, including 50,000+ HVAC parts from major vendors, as well as labor costs assignable to the equipment and material. A Status Module keeps time-stamped track of the status of each project and tells the user which data is being shared and where.
Each of the software programs can be purchased and used separately.
Schedule and dispatch
QXpress (www.qxpress.com, 877/529-6659) is a scheduling, dispatching and invoicing program developed for QuickBooks users active in field service. The first time the program opens on the computer, it automatically synchronizes with the user's existing customers, employees and items in Quick-Books, eliminating data entry in the initial setup.
The software, which works seamlessly with QuickBooks and eliminates the need for double entry of data, essentially steps in where QuickBooks leaves off: Services are dispatched in QXpress using QuickBooks customers and items, and later turn into Quick-Books invoices when the services are completed.
The solution facilitates scheduling one time and recurring services for any customer on a contractor's QuickBooks customer list and enables printing of route lists and work orders. The user can also record start and stop times and materials used.
QXpress handles workflow in a variety of ways that can accommodate contractor preferences. When a call comes in, the dispatcher has the option of adding an appointment to a tech's calendar right away or placing it in a "Waiting List" for later dispatch. The appointment contains the QuickBooks customer and item information, any parts needed for the service and special instructions for the tech. Service calls in the Waiting List can be routed using Microsoft MapPoint to find the closest tech to the appointment.
Service calls can be dispatched to techs in the field by printing out work orders, sending the service call information wirelessly to Pocket PCs or delivering the information to Sprint/ Nextel phones.
The QX Mobile module for Pocket PCs allows techs to tote along a mini version of QXpress that enables users to view customer information, record payments and parts used and customer or tech signatures, and print invoices and work orders in the field. When an Internet connection is available, entries into QX Mobile synchronize automatically back with QXpress and QuickBooks, so they are both updated with the latest changes.
When services are completed, the technician can post the data into a QuickBooks invoice with a single click. Likewise, payments received in the field, vendor purchase orders, inventory adjustments, subcontractor bills and employee timesheet data can all be seamlessly posted back to QuickBooks.
QXpress is available in three versions, with increasing levels of functionality. The highest level version supports billing for multiple services per visit, tracking of detailed job costs, ability to schedule multi-day installations, and the creating of estimates, proposals and renewal letters.
Bill and Patti Feldman are freelance writers for magazines, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at [email protected].