Joe MarcheseThe technology we use in our industry is forever evolving. Today, more and more people have integrated portable devices such as smartphones and tablets into the workplace. These devices allow them to increase their productivity and work more efficiently. Refrigeration technicians can and should take advantage of this technology.

Technological Technicians

There are many aspects of a technician’s job where a smartphone or tablet can be extremely useful. These devices allow a technician to search the Internet for technical information while on the job. For example, a technician may easily find an installation, service, or engineering manual in an instant. Or, he may find a compressor’s running amperage at a specific operating suction and discharge pressure by looking up the compressor’s performance chart online. If needed, he could download a manufacturer’s wiring diagram or one of their troubleshooting charts. A technician may even view a short video clip on a topic to help him understand the operation of a system or component.

There are many useful apps which can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet. For example, a technician can download a P/T (Pressure/Temperature) app, allowing him to easily look up the saturation pressure/temperature of many common refrigerants. No longer does he need those pocket P/T cards — those were extremely valuable, but were limited by their size. They only showed a few different refrigerants and had limited details on pressure and temperature. The P/T apps show many more refrigerants and more detailed pressure and temperature values. There are also GPS apps available for driving directions; no longer is a separate device required for this very useful tool.

These portable devices also give a technician the ability to easily carry an electronic library. He can store useful installation and service manuals from manufacturers as well as any other technical literature he may need. These devices also allow a technician to keep a service history of completed jobs. So when asked what work was done six months or a year ago on a particular service call, he can easily find the notes.

These devices can be used to take a picture of a system or component, which can be useful in many ways. These pictures may be used to show a problem to a customer or his supervisor. The old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” definitely applies in our industry. A photo could be taken of a system’s data plate and all the information would be available without having to write it down. No longer does a technician need to worry about not collecting all the information or forgetting to write down parts of the data plate.

These devices can also assist a technician in getting live technical support. Using email or text, a technician may contact a tech support person for assistance. Video conferencing may also be used to connect with a tech support person and, instead of trying to explain the problem or the system, the technician can use his smartphone or tablet to show the support person the issues live, in real-time, using visual information. He could show the actual system component or any values he is measuring such as a refrigerant pressure or line temperature. The possibilities are almost endless. It would be like the tech support person was on the job with the technician.

These devices are great educational tools. Technicians can participate in webinars and online classes, read industry magazines, and access other valuable information. On the business side, a company can use these devices for dispatching, invoicing, timesheets, and many other business-related needs. Purchasing these portable devices can be costly, but if you factor in all the potential uses, as well as the convenience factor, it is most definitely a worthwhile investment.

Publication date: 4/1/2013