Products Help Efficiency

July 13, 2009
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Computers and products that utilize computers/computer software can be at their most useful for contractors when they can perform calculations, help them sell their products and services, and aid in communication between the field and the office.

Each of the winners of The NEWS’ Contractor Services & Software category of the sixth annual Dealer Design Awards offers contractors features such as those listed above, to present the contractor an opportunity to offer new services to his customers and/or run his business more efficiently. The gold goes to Online-Access Inc., for its PagePilot E-Commerce System, the silver to Networkfleet for the Networkfleet fleet management system, and Mc4Software’s Mc4 Suite.



Gold Winner: The PagePilot E-Commerce System by Online-Access, Inc.

GOLD WINNER

Online-Access Inc. has designed and developed PagePilot Online E-Commerce Store for Contractors. The PagePilot E-Commerce System lets a contractor easily install an e-Commerce store in their Website to sell filters, UV bulbs, and other replacement items to their customers.

The system totally automates the pricing and product fulfillment by partnering with HVAC wholesalers throughout the country to provide these services. Once the products are selected, the contractor enters the markup he wants and imports them into his online store.

The customer pays for the product and shipping via PayPal. PayPal credits the money to the contractor’s bank account and notifies him that a transaction has occurred. Once the wholesaler ships the product, the contractor will then be billed by the wholesaler for the product and its shipping cost through the wholesaler’s normal invoice procedure.

A benefit of this system to contractors is the ability to sell products without having to stock them. It also offers the ability to import a contractor’s customer base into Online-Access’ reminder system so the contractor can choose any existing customer to receive reminders without re-entering the data. The company also offers a complete data entry service to input customer reminders for contractors who don’t have the staff available to do it.

Should the distributor’s cost of a product sold by the contractor change, the selling price displayed in the store for that product will automatically update based on the new cost entered by the wholesaler and the markup the contractor has assigned to it.

A benefit to wholesalers is that PagePilot utilizes a global library with consumable product information that allows wholesalers to easily build their product catalog. Also, one of the judges made glowing remarks about the system. “It’s a great value for the dollar and an excellent entry-level on ramp to Website presence and an e-commerce solution that puts the power of site edits and updates in the hands of a contractor. You don’t need to know much more than MS [Microsoft] Word to be able to navigate this full-featured product. Great job!” Another of the judges also had good things to say about PagePilot E-Commerce System.

“This seems like an all-inclusive Web-based solution for creating a retail site on a contractor’s site. The reminder function is a big plus in gaining repeat purchases. Payment through PayPal is a trusted partner and lends credibility to the site. It offers very smooth integration features for people who want to sell directly outside service contracts.”

Silver Winner: Networkfleet by Networkfleet notifies fleet managers via e-mail.

SILVER WINNER

Networkfleet by Networkfleet is a wireless fleet management system. It combines continuous GPS location tracking with patented precise diagnostic monitoring to give HVAC fleets a complete and accurate picture of their vehicle operations, said the company. By connecting directly to a vehicle’s onboard computer, Networkfleet collects information such as actual vehicle speed, exact diagnostic trouble code (DTC), and miles per gallon. Fleet managers log in to a secure Website to view location and diagnostics data and receive instant e-mail notifications when exceptions occur or pre-set thresholds are exceeded.

One of the benefits that the system provides is notifying fleet managers via e-mail when an exception occurs within the fleet, such as when a vehicle has an engine problem. By identifying issues in near real time, managers can fix vehicle concerns before they escalate into larger problems. This helps ensure that vehicles are running and therefore being productive.

According to the company, Networkfleet offers a quick payback and return on investment, typically within 6-12 months. The hardware takes minutes to install, and the Web-based software is simple to use, so fleets can get up and running quickly. Speed reports, hours of operation, stop reports, engine performance, location history, and other data are all available at the click of a button.

One judge pointed out how the product differentiates itself from other products. “We use a GPS device and like its application. The plus to this design is the tie-in with the vehicle maintenance reports and recall notices. These features do separate it from most of the others on the market. Real-time location and data are key features also.” A second judge summed up the product by calling it a “solid tool.”

Bronze Winner: Mc4Software’s Mc4 Suite

BRONZE WINNER

Mc4Software’s Mc4 Suite is an integrated suite of software components for HVAC and fire protection projects. The software is an AutoCAD-compatible, fully-integrated, stand-alone platform for heat loss and cooling load calculations, radiant heating, and S.I.M., fire protection, ductwork and plumbing systems design and solar BIM. It can be used for both residential and commercial applications, as well as for new construction or retrofit. Mc4 Suite is the standard application comprised of six separate modules: HvacEnergy, HvacSystem, HvacEnergySystems, HvacDuct, PipeCad, and FireCad.

Mc4Software features an installation wizard for quick and easy installation on a computer. The software is compatible with both Windows and Vista operating systems.

For a quick start and to save time, existing building plans can be imported into the Mc4 Suite software, and system design can begin immediately. The user has the option of drawing the building within Mc4 Suite if no pre-existing plans are available to import.

Users can switch between 2-D and 3-D views of any project to enhance design understanding and presentation. All modules can be purchased separately or as a complete suite and information is seamlessly integrated as modules are added. The company also has a toll-free technical support line and will assist with any design or calculation questions as well as technical computer support.

A judge commented, “This is a very comprehensive suite of tools for design groups. With good training and education on its implementation, this would be a huge help in full project design work for mechanicals.”

2009 Honorees: Contractor Services & Software

GOLD WINNER
Online-Access Inc.
www.online-access.com
PagePilot E-Commerce System

SILVER WINNER
Networkfleet
www.networkfleet.com
Networkfleet

BRONZE WINNER
Mc4Software
www.mc4software.com
Mc4 Suite

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Trigon Refrig. Group, LLC
www.trigonrefrigerant.com
Refrigerant Management Services

WaterFurnace International
www.waterfurnace.com
WaterFurnace Savings Calculator

Publication date: 07/13/2009

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