The TorchScope Video Recording Flashlight by General Tools & Instruments, www.generaltools.com, combines a 6-watt LED flashlight with a digital camera that can record and store high-definition videos and photos. The unit could come in handy for line-of-sight inspection and documentation of hard-to-access equipment to aid in the diagnosis, service and repair of components of HVAC, plumbing, piping and other installed equipment.
The flashlight is powered by an included rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. Media files can be date- and time-stamped for verification and to create a timeline of projects or events. Audio is captured simultaneously with video clips that may include ambient sound, machine sound, verbal comments and detailed explanations.
Photos and video are stored on a removable MicroSD card. Saved media can be seen via the LCD viewfinder or on a computer, tablet or smartphone onsite by inserting or connecting the memory card or connecting the flashlight with the included USB cable. The files can also be downloaded and sent for immediate evaluation by others offsite.
The TorchScope ships with a 4GB card, but users can substitute cards with up to 32GB of memory. With the 4GB card, the device can record up to 60 minutes of video at HD resolution or 78 minutes at VGA resolution.
The flashlight is made with anodized military-grade aerospace aluminum and is about 9 inches long and 2 ¼ inches in diameter and weighs 15.3 oz. Users can control the brightness and illumination mode and the degree of zoom.
Three 2-Watt LEDs deliver 100, 500, and 1,000 lumens at 50%, 75%, and 100% power. At 1,000 lumens, the illumination distance is 328 feet. The integral camera has a 60° field of view and a 2.4 in. (60mm)-to-infinity depth of field. The unit is drop-resistant to 3.3 feet and IP68 waterproof, making it operable under water up to 33 feet deep.
The Picture Perfect Pricing HVAC Flat Rate Pricing System by HVAC Business Solutions, www.pictureperfectpricing.com, is a web-based, in-home flat rate pricing system accessed on the iPad (iOS 7.0 or later) and Android tablet (iOS 4.0 or later). It is designed to function as a sales tool for techs in the field.
The app can hold and manage brand information including major manufacturers’ parts, pricing, repairs and standard repair time estimates, diagnostic photos taken from within the app and stored with the customer’s records, videos, brochures and other product literature. Administrators can adjust any pricing, add new products and customize individual pages at any time. They can also update the entire price book in seconds with revised pricing from management, which can be received simultaneously by all techs. All changes sync with the iPad or tablet, so everyone in the office and in field is always working with real time data. A print manual is available upon demand.
Each page in Perfect Picture Pricing prompts the technician to fully explain the problem and cause, what actions could have prevented it from arising, and the repair options.
Repairs are organized by category. For each repair there is a view specifically for technicians with instructions and tips, a list of parts to be replaced, and the amount of time allocated for the job.
The app is pre-loaded with most of the common products on the marketplace from selected major manufacturers and incorporates all the publically available marketing materials from those vendors. Administrators can also add other information to round out the offerings, as well as service agreements, and invoicing.
Techs can present a complete diagnostic of the equipment condition with just a few taps on the screen. Customers can see onscreen “must do” and “should do” repairs and elect to go forward as budget or other constraints dictate. Users can also use details in the price book to sell service agreements, which can be added to the invoice at the click of a button, with the screen showing the actual savings achievable at the bottom of the screen.
Picture Perfect Pricing includes a click-through Replacement Savings Estimator to evaluate, with the customer, detailed factors in a cost analysis of recommended repairs. The system evaluates the cost of ownership and estimated ROI of the value of the recommended repair if performed at the current time versus the cost, over time, of declining the repair/replacement and needing it at a later date.
Customers and technicians build the work order together using the familiar shopping cart and checkout process, with the tech adding the chosen repairs to a shopping cart and preserving customer-initialed rejections of recommendations of repairs.
The app retains the ability to retrieve records of declined recommendations. Should a customer call to complain at a later date, the tech can reference any recommendation that was declined.
Management can create summary reports that give details of each customer or can provide a dashboard of key performance metrics.
The app, which integrates with QuickBooks, also works offline, with data stored locally on the device. The information will sync back to the server when an Internet connection is restored.
Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at [email protected].