NEW YORK - Hardware without software is useless, and this year’s software offerings at the 2008 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) concentrated on accuracy and versatility.

Whether in the field or in the office, these software manufacturers brought products to the market that address the needs of jobsite technology, project planning, and back office bookkeeping.


Engineered Software Inc.( introduced its Pipe-Flo® fluid flow analysis and design software. The system allows users to simulate system operations without the use of spreadsheets, draw piping schematics using power drawing tools, and create a piping system model as an isometric or two-dimensional drawing. The Shape Editor within the program creates custom shapes for use in drawings.

Users can model system expansions and process improvements providing the opportunity to identify and isolate bottlenecks in the system, which helps eliminate equipment failure, said the company. Completed piping systems can be e-mailed and then viewed using the free Pipe-Flo viewer program provided.

FastEST Inc.( displayed a new component for its FastPIPE and FastDUCT Mechanical Estimating software. The On-Screen Digitizer lets users import plans of many different digital formats directly into FastPIPE and FastDUCT. By having the digital plan interfacing with the functions on the takeoff screen, users can select and count items directly on the screen. All items are then marked and saved, eliminating confusion about what work has been completed, said the company.

The takeoff screen has been modified to make room for viewing the plans on-screen in both programs. The user can click and drag the plan or zoom in and out using the scroller on a standard mouse. They can also assign different colors to different piping or duct systems, as well as setting line thickness and “screen ink” transparency parameters. According to the company, this program helps eliminate many of the costs associated with picking up plans and making large-size copies.

Stephen Masse, sales director for first-time exhibitor JM Software Inc., pointed out the combination of hardware and software his company’s mobile MI Business™ System offers.

JM Software Inc.( featured its MI Business™ System, a modular mobile business solution. Combined with multiple hardware pieces, this interface allows contractors to electronically track sales, services, and bookkeeping. It also provides for onsite payment via a mobile printer and credit card reader that connects to the system wirelessly.

According to the company, the system offers real time credit card transaction processing, customer and service call tracking, inventory and cash control, and a way to send information to and from Quickbooks®. The software runs on cell phones and PDAs yielding customer contact information, service call history, payment collection, and receipt and invoice printing onsite.

Maxwell Systems Inc.( won a 2008 AHR Expo Innovation Award for its Estimation Takeoff software. This program gives contractors the ability to generate takeoffs straight from the digital plan files instead of paper blueprints. Users can download plans from any of the online plan rooms, scan them in or upload them from a CD-Rom.

According to the company there is no need for a digitizer board, stylus pen or a set of hardcopy blueprints. Once the plans are loaded, counts and measurements can be made with the mouse. It also features an Overlay option. If the plans change without warning, users can quickly get a handle on the scope of the updates by placing the new plans over the old plans and comparing, said the company.

Publication date:02/18/2008