ACHRNEWS

Jobsite Software Aids In Troubleshooting

September 5, 2003
Consumers are demanding fast, professional HVAC system repairs, and new technology is playing a pivotal role in meeting this need.

We know that approximately 30 percent of our technician workforce is already ahead of the trend — using laptop computers and Pocket PCs to change the way we monitor the performance and handle maintenance of customers’ HVAC systems. To take advantage of this increased use of technology among technicians, Trane has introduced its new Portable Jobsite Diagnostic Software for use on laptops and Pocket PCs. Now, tech-savvy HVAC technicians can access information and troubleshoot heating and cooling problems by having volumes of HVAC knowledge at their fingertips, on-site.

Technicians want to solve homeowners’ heating and cooling problems on location during the first visit, whenever possible. Contractors and technicians will immediately benefit from using this software on daily service calls because it facilitates a fast and accurate diagnosis. Providing a quick solution to a problem — before the problem takes on a life of its own — assures a satisfied customer.

The three Trane Pocket PC-compatible programs available today are:

  • The SuperTech Analyzer Diagnostic Program for R-22 or R-410A refrigerant for refrigeration cycles allows technicians to select which refrigerant they are working with, whether it be R-22 or R-410A. The technician then enters the normal and actual operating conditions and the pressures and temperatures of the system being serviced. The software analyzes the input and confirms that the system is operating properly, or identifies the cause of abnormal operation.

  • The Heat Pump Diagnostic Lite Port™ Program troubleshoots problems with either single- or two-stage Trane heat pumps. This program features electronic flow charts with step-by-step instructions and a video library of service procedures.

  • The Two-to-Five Ton Package Gas-Electric and Package Dual-Fuel Units Program features service procedure videos that can be stored on the Pocket PC expansion card. If a technician is not sure how to perform a specific service procedure, he can access his Pocket PC and watch a “how to” video while at the jobsite.

    The special Lite Port system technology is used in both the Heat Pump Diagnostic Lite Port Program and the Two-to-Five Ton Package Gas-Electric and Package Dual-Fuel Units Program. The Lite Port technology is currently installed on Trane residential heat pump defrost controls and two-to-five ton gas electric package units, and will be available on gas furnaces in the fall.

    In order for the Lite Port system technology to function, a special optical coupler probe is connected to a Pocket PC and then placed over the Lite Port LED (light emitting diode). Equipment that is Lite Port equipped will constantly send digital service information and fault codes if detected by its onboard LED.

    The Lite Port coupler allows the Pocket PC to receive the digital service data. This information, which is then displayed, includes the current operating conditions, the previous 72-hour call cycles, and any faults that the control system has detected.

    The service technician can see fault codes when he/she looks at the LED. These faults will be reported by the control’s Lite Port LED as slow, distinct flashes. Two flashes, three flashes, four flashes, and so on indicate a particular fault with the equipment. The service technician can enter these faults manually and the software will take him/her to the appropriate troubleshooting procedure.

    For example, on a manual inspection on a gas-electric unit, the service technician places the Lite Port optical coupler on the Lite Port LED. The control will report that the gas heating section is operating correctly, but in this scenario the flame current appears to be at the low end of its operating range. The software program will then send the technician to the correct service procedure screen to correct the potential no-heat problem.

    Not only are the above-mentioned programs available for use on Pocket PCs, both the Trane SuperTech Analyzer Diagnostic Program for R-22 refrigerant and the Heat Pump Diagnostic Lite Port Program can be used on laptop and desktop computers. Additionally, these two programs are capable of data-logging the operation of systems.

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of HVAC technicians and installers is expected to increase faster than most other occupations, increasing 21 to 35 percent through the year 2010. As the population and economy grow, so will the demand for new residential, commercial, and industrial climate-control systems. Many fear that the legacy of craftsmanship passed down from generation to generation is disappearing. But this new resource will allow the next generation of HVAC technicians to access important, step-by-step instructions anytime, anywhere. Combining software such as this with on-the-job training and industry workshops helps empower our technicians to provide prompt, professional customer service.

    Glenn Taylor is manager, Trane Residential Systems technical training, Tyler, Texas. For more information, contact Taylor at 903-581-3042 or visit www.trane.com.

    Publication date: 09/08/2003