Control Network Designed To Boost Service Contracts

February 8, 2002
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York's Simplicity Control System.
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — As light commercial network platforms evolve, more and more contractors are relying on outside controls specialists and software subcontractors to service their customers. High installation costs and complex system designs act as barriers for hvacr contractors looking to sell communications and diagnostic services directly to their customers.

When a system failure or compressor lockout occurs, building owners and facility managers often find that troubleshooting the problem can involve dealing with the headache of multiple service contractors and long periods of downtime while the problem is fixed. Contractors are in need of a system that can take the complexity out of network controls and streamline communications and services. On the other hand, contractors want a system that will allow them to sell service contracts and eliminate the services/diagnostic middleman, saving time and money for them, as well as their customers.

At the 2002 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition, the Unitary Products Group of York International (Norman, OK) announced it is joining forces with Texas Instruments Sensors & Controls Group (Attleboro, MA) and Notifact Corp. (Fairfield, NJ) to give contractors what it believes to be a cost-effective and easy-to-use equipment monitoring and communications system. Its Simplicity Control System™ for light commercial use was introduced as a standard on all York rooftop units and will be available as an upgrade for many installed systems.

Texas Instruments is providing the control system for the package, monitoring compressors, pressure switches, and various equipment functions. Notifact is supplying its wireless communications technology that will provide optional plug-and-play communications.

“The Simplicity system provides advanced diagnostics and communications tools and lowers networking costs, so contractors can reduce their overall installation costs, opening the door for them to sell more service contracts directly to their customers,” said Geoffrey Illian, marketing manager, York International.

According to Illian, the system was also designed with customer service and management of day-to-day operations in mind. He said the Simplicity system is designed to help contractors profit by selling more service and communications contracts. He noted that building and facility managers can reap the benefits as well.

ALARMS, DIAGNOSTICS

The control system allows wiring the units together with a three-conductor cable, which can be connected to a building computer that reads alarm information. This system design, which connects the network, gives the building manager instant access to alarm and diagnostic information, said Illian.

Illian explained that alarms can be recalled with a single button push, giving service contractors a safe way to troubleshoot their system by storing in memory the fault history of the unit even if the power is disconnected. Also, unlike most systems where various safety switches are read together, the Simplicity system monitors the high-pressure switch, low-pressure switch, and freeze stat independently, he said.

According to Illian, contractors and building managers can quickly diagnose a system by locating the individual circuit experiencing the problem. In addition, he said programmed intelligence automatically resets some system alarms three times in a given period of time before permanently shutting down and calling for assistance, eliminating nuisance calls and false alarms.

Also, businesses can monitor contractor and equipment performance, coordinate notification protocols, reduce equipment life-cycle costs, and manage service and maintenance costs through the new York wireless website, noted Illian.

The optional wireless plug-and-play communications interface, sold under the York Wireless™ brand name, communicates with an Internet website, which calls out to service personnel when a problem occurs. The York Wireless option uses Internet server and wireless technologies for real-time, around-the-clock monitoring of hvac equipment.

The York Wireless device determines the location, equipment identification, and specific equipment alarm code causing the disruption and then wirelessly communicates the information directly to service contractors and facility managers through their pagers, cell phones, faxes, or e-mails, said Illian.

“Using the system, the common contractor can provide more communications and diagnostic services and their users can experience the convenience of having facility alarming information on hand around the clock,” said James McGuinness, marketing manager, Texas Instruments Sensors & Control Group.

Publication date: 02/11/2002

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