ACHRNEWS

Some Software for Getting the Job Done

January 31, 2011

 

There’s a new tekkie product on the market almost every day - or so it seems. And the HVAC trade is certainly not immune to a deluge of new products, be they mobile for field applications or computer software/web portals for office workers. This article offers a glimpse of a potpourri of software and related products.

Mypartshelf.com parts inventory and sales website: Mypartshelf.com is an online collection of parts that often collect dust on backroom or office shelves. The website is an attempt to give professional people in various industries and trades the ability to put their entire inventory online and also find parts online without going through the auction process.

The system is pretty straightforward. Users register and prove that they are a certified business in the state in which they operate and are ready to start the task of entering various parts into the system.

The parts list can be uploaded as a CSV file or entered one by one. Mypartshelf.com has a parts list manager, which helps to edit a long list of parts. The concept behind the website is to “connect parts to people.” The system is open to the general public, in order to create a demand for old and odd parts, yet at the same time Mypartshelf.com protects the individuals’ wholesale status.

Mypartshelf.com’s cost structure is based on a sale only. If a buyer contacts the seller for the sale, Mypartshelf.com will collect  5 percent of the Mypartshelf.com listed sale price.

According to Bob Johnson of Mypartshelf.com, “The greatest thing about using the website is that by virtue of using it as an inventory management system, you are also listing your inventory online, which generates web-based sales.”

“I find my parts shelf a useful tool,” said Bud Kerbaugh of Sheyenne Appliance, West Fargo, N.D. “On the inventory side, its ease of use and options make it great for inventory control. On the sales side, it is a great way to get our inventory on the web.”

Telogis GPS fleet management software platform: Telogis (www.telogis.com) Fleet 8 features premium data content that centralizes in one program the daily fleet management tools needed to track and manage a company’s mobile assets. New content includes:

• Traffic: Fleet 8 imports real-time traffic data to allow fleet managers and dispatchers to reassign jobs if they notice a major traffic jam or incident that prevents a crew from getting to their next job on time.

• Weather: Real-time weather monitoring assists in both routing and planning. If the fleet manager notices a major weather pattern moving in, the software platform helps alert crews in the field.

• Streetside/Bird’s-Eye View: It shows the actual location and surroundings of a field team. This offers many benefits, including providing emergency response teams with the ability to determine the potential cleanup equipment needs based on surroundings (trees, utility poles, etc.).

Fleet 8 also offers new advanced tracking tools designed to reduce operating and administrative costs, and improve the safety and utilization of assets in the field:

• IFTA/IRP Data Feed  helps companies that have vehicles traveling through multiple states manage their compliance based on GPS data and determine the best place to register each vehicle.

• Multiple Vehicle Histories allows Fleet 8 users to view the current and historical status of multiple vehicles in a single window.

• What Happened Here? simplifies the process of researching incidents at specific locations/times.

• Fuel Card Module leverages fuel card data and GPS locations to better manage fuel purchases.

• Field Management Co-Location Module uses GPS to determine when a foreman/supervisor’s truck is located on a jobsite or other location related to the job, such as a maintenance shop or depot.

The Telogis platform is scalable to any size/type of fleet, including trucks and equipment.

“If we have an outage, I can immediately look and see who is the closest to the problem, and dispatch them accordingly,” said Larry Galloway, service manager, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative.

These new elements build on a platform that already offers fleet managers a wide range of tools to better manage a company’s mobile assets, whether it’s trucks or equipment, or on 50 vehicles or 50,000.

“We used Telogis Fleet to recover a stolen tractor and trailer valued at over $100,000,” said Len Stark, director of technical services, Namasco Corp. “Without Telogis Fleet, those items may have been lost forever.”

The platform seamlessly integrates with Telogis Route and Telogis Mobile to provide an end-to-end solution for fleet management. It features customizable modules and is available in three different editions: Standard, Professional and Enterprise.

Paragon Software Systems’ truck routing software: Paragon Software Systems’ (www.paragonrouting.com) routing and scheduling optimization software is an automated planning solution that can handle multifrequency deliveries, maximize use of the existing truck and trailer fleet, and improve warehouse utilization. Recently, the Martin-Brower Co. installed a computerized routing and scheduling system. The software has enabled Martin-Brower to increase delivery frequency using its existing fleet without adding significant mileage. One of its service centers eliminated 5,000 miles a week on the road with the software, substantially lowering its operational costs.

Chuck Gans, director, operations support, Martin-Brower, reported seeing benefits using the software reports. “When our Port Allen (Louisiana) DC changed from a two deliveries a week schedule to a three deliveries a week schedule, we constructed a new master schedule using the software, which enabled us to increase our weekly deliveries without adding excessive mileage,” he said. “We expected an increase in miles, but the Paragon software allowed us to maximize our delivery routes without investing in new tractors and trailers.”

Martin-Brower selected the software because it offers a range of important features. According to Gans, the software includes several key features, including dispatch smoothing, allowing dispatches to be spread throughout the day utilizing the warehouse workforce properly. It also enables arrival time banding, ensuring locations with multiple delivery frequencies are all delivered within a user-defined number of minutes on all delivery days. This avoids some customers receiving morning deliveries on one route, and an afternoon or evening delivery on the next.

“We also use Paragon’s delivery frequency planner to allocate store volumes across the schedules to make sure that specific orders are planned accordingly. In addition, the HTML reporting feature allows everyone to access important routing information produced by the software,” said Gans.

AiRNAB digital documentation system: AiRNAB (www.airnab.com) is a digital documentation system that allows air and water balancing data to be seamlessly shared from the office to the field. The entire test and balance process can be made transparent and paperless, saving time and reducing transcription errors that are introduced when using paper.

The ability to invite building owners, engineers, and other subcontractors to be part of the project also makes it easier to share information and any punch list items that need to be fixed to complete the air and water balancing. Once invited to a project, the daily TAB progress can be viewed online via standard web browser. The fact that all of the information is digital allows for a final TAB report to be printed as soon as the job is completed.

AiRNAB features include:

• Engineers can log in and view air balance readings at any time.

• All recorded readings have a user and time/date stamp of who recorded them.

• Users can view a chronological audit trail of all TAB work performed.

• Built-in system for tracking field issues found and the contractor responsible for fixing them.

• Final TAB reports can typically be turned around in 24 to 48 hours, no matter how big or small the job is.

The AiRNAB system can be run on the Field Tool, which allows for digitally capturing data in the field, ensuring that it is accessible and accurate. In addition to capturing data more accurately, users can share any and all information gathered remotely with the office. Using the Field Tool within an organization will allow project managers and other users to stay connected to job progress as well as any problems encountered that may affect job completion.

The Field Tool is a laptop, netbook, or tablet PC running Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 operating system. It can also be a handheld device used to collect data and track issues by users in the field. The Field Tool software will run on any pocket PC or PDA mobile phone running a Windows Mobile 5.0/6.0 operating system.

Mobile filtration analysis tool: Facility and HVAC engineers can obtain critical operating cost data for HVAC air filters anywhere, anytime, with a new mobile smart phone tool from Kimberly-Clark Filtration (www.kcfiltration.com).

The mobile analysis tool works with a variety of smart phones and other mobile devices and is available for free via www.kcfiltration.com/calculator. It allows people to compare the energy costs and environmental impact (i.e., greenhouse gas emissions) of any two similar HVAC systems using different filters simply by entering data into an easy-to-use form. The tool then automatically calculates the energy costs and annual CO2 emissions of each system, showing the impact of filter selection.

The resulting data is available in tabular or graph formats, both of which can be e-mailed directly from the user’s smart phone to any e-mail account. Users can see calculations as well as a summary. The summary data also recommends the filter option that will provide the greatest energy cost savings.

“Filters play a major role in an HVAC system’s energy consumption,” said Lon Edelman, CAFS, market manager, Kimberly-Clark Filtration. “The energy costs to operate an air filter can be up to 80 percent of the filter’s total life-cycle cost, and 10 times the filter’s purchase price. That is why it is so crucial to pay attention to energy consumption, and not just the purchase price of a filter.”

Edelman noted that filters with a lower pressure drop allow the HVAC system motor to overcome less resistance to deliver the required airflow, thus reducing the motor’s energy consumption. And minimizing energy consumption minimizes greenhouse gas emissions - a wise sustainability strategy for commercial and institutional buildings, especially those pursuing LEED credits, states the company.

The tool estimates the life-cycle cost and environmental impact of filters in systems with variable-frequency or variable-speed fans. It is not designed for use with fixed-speed fan systems. The new mobile tool runs on many major smart phone systems.

“I used the mobile calculator today at two potential customers, and the results help us to move forward in discussing our company becoming their filter vendor,” said Mike Perinovic of Filtration Concepts Inc., Lannon, Wis. “The best way to sell filters today is not only to talk about price of filters, but to show your customer how to really save money with reduced energy consumption. This calculator is a great tool for on-the-fly sales calls and assuring your customers that their filter choices are best for their applications. The Kimberly-Clark mobile calculator is an invaluable tool that our entire sales force will use.”

Generac® Power Design Pro™ generator sizing software with gas piping module: Generac® Power Systems Inc. (www.generac.com) has introduced a gas piping module, the first in a series of enhancements to its Power Design Pro software. The gas piping module is used to determine the required pipe size for gaseous fuel generators by automatically selecting and sizing the appropriate gas piping for a generator. It also allows the user to manually select the pipe sizing and calculate the available gas pressure at the unit. The module supports a single Generac generator as well as multiple generators in any modular power system (MPS) configuration.

Said Mike Kirchner, technical support manager, Generac, “The new gas piping module adds to the advanced capabilities of this program. Generac will continue to roll out even more new features to Power Design Pro in the coming months.”

The software is a generator sizing and system design tool supporting both electrical and mechanical design. It is a one-stop solution center for the consulting engineer, offering specification sheets, installation drawings, emission information, a specification text library with full inclusive design notes and the ability to link directly to supporting dealers for budgetary quoting and additional support, the company states.

In addition to the new gas piping module, the software has a number of other features, including full harmonic and transient analysis to ensure complete generator to load compatibility, advanced load modeling that uses an expert system approach to model a load’s true characteristics and allows users to build their own load types, and load shedding capabilities that enable the user to shed loads entered into the program and evaluate the effects of running those loads against any generator configuration selected by the user.

The Power Design Pro also offers natural load sequencing in addition to the traditional concurrent starting load step method, which means that users no longer have to manipulate loads into an arbitrary grouping to prevent false transient conditions, the company says.

Publication date: 01/31/2011