Smart maintenance technology is on the rise, an emerging innovative option for residential HVAC systems. Taking advantage of sensors and software working together, it can help gain early insight into equipment problems. Emerson’s Sensi Comfort Monitoring Service, https://sensicomfort.com/products/monitoring, is one example of this technology.
Contractors partnering with Emerson have access to this solution that can provide system performance checks; power on-demand maintenance plans by providing access to timely information; and help maintain comfort and efficiency from the HVAC system.
The service utilizes sensors installed in various heating and cooling components by the HVAC contractor to collect detailed real-time data into system performance and efficiency. The sensors generate streaming data when the HVAC system is running and allow the contractor to remotely diagnose system issues before a technician is sent to the home. They can be configured by monitoring the indoor and outdoor equipment or just the indoor equipment and can also detect water leaks due to high condensate levels.
The data is sent from the homeowner’s network to the Sensi Comfort Monitoring center for analysis. When a problem is detected, such as a filter degrading, component failure, or decline of equipment efficiency, the diagnostic team immediately notifies the homeowner and contractor with actionable alerts. The alerts contain a straightforward technical explanation and recommended action. According to Emerson, these types of communiques can help a contractor send the right technician to the home with the right parts for the job.
The service also provides monthly system reports which give an overview of the system and any issues that need to be resolved, as well as monthly system runtime information and cost of operation estimates, which, notes Emerson, could help homeowners and contractors make the best decisions to maximize comfort and system efficiency.
Two field service software options
ServiceBridge, www.servicebridge.com, provides cloud-based field management software for small, medium, large and franchise service businesses. The software includes drag-and drop scheduling, a color-coded dispatch board, inventory management, manufacturer warranty and equipment tracking that includes last documented condition, and native app support for Android and iOS devices.
Management can track jobs by crews in the field, with color coded indication of which jobs, by hour and segment of hours, have been completed, started, and are scheduled to start for the remainder of the day.
Dispatchers can see crew or technician availability on the dispatch board and assign a work order to an available person or team based on that technician’s or team’s skill, indicated via a filter on the calendar view, as well as current location. There are day, week and monthly calendars. Any changes to the schedule are automatically pushed to the technicians in the field.
Field personnel can look up product and service pricing, create new work orders and estimates from their mobile computing devices, and email quotes directly to customers. There is unlimited storage of photos, videos, audio files and PDFs for each job.
Locations of current daily assignments on an interactive map enable travel route optimization either by the dispatcher or the driver. The apps for Android and Apple devices also provide voice-guided turn-by-turn directions.
Built-in geotracking supports the ability of the dispatcher and administrators to see the current location of each technician and the exact time of arrival of the crew at each job, as well as if the vehicle was moved during lunch break or other time during the workday.
ServiceBridge can be used in the offline mode in areas where there is poor Internet connectivity, with syncing occurring when the connection is restored.
The software offers full two-way synching with QuickBooks Online, enabling secure sharing of invoices, payments, refunds and customer data. ServiceBridge also allows customized forms and offers custom development services to businesses with unique needs.
ServiceBridge has a built-in reporting platform that allows administrators to run reports on work orders, customer records and technicians. Common reports include jobs and estimates in a timeframe, estimates won and lost, and customer list reports that show the most effective marketing campaigns for the business. The software also has a Public API for reports that allows report publishing to the web or a program such as Microsoft PowerBI.
A free full-function14-day trial is available for an unlimited number of devices.
Another option for QuickBooks users: Smart Service, www.smartservice.com, is a direct add-on to QuickBooks that adds scheduling, dispatching, routing, inventory management, equipment tracking, workforce monitoring, invoicing, and other capabilities to the accounting software. A desktop application, it features out-of-the-box real-time integration with QuickBooks and imports existing customers from QuickBooks. New customers created in Smart Service are instantly duplicated in QuickBooks, as are updates to contacts and job information.
Once scheduled, the job information is sent to each field technician’s mobile device. Techs can view customer contact information, service histories, equipment records, and other details in the Smart Service mobile field service app, iFleet. They can also add line items to work orders to reflect work performed.
Upon job completion, the tech can get the customer’s digital signature and send the completed work order to the office, where it becomes part of that company’s service history and can be used to create ready-to-bill invoices.
Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at [email protected].