Speed, Ease of Operation Lead the Electronic and Hand Tools Charge
Fieldpiece Instruments takes home the gold
The MR45 Recovery Machine from Fieldpiece Instruments Inc. is a variable-speed, DC-motor recovery machine with a digital display. The machine starts and runs in lower voltage situations, and lightweight power cord usage won’t burn out the motor. These attributes, alongside glowing reviews from contractors and our panel of judges, helped the MR45 win the gold award in the Electronic and Hand Tools category of The NEWS’ 2017 Dealer Design Awards.
“Research didn’t start out specifically for a recovery machine,” said Tina French, marketing manager, Fieldpiece Instruments. “In the fall of 2014, we did general research to understand technicians and contractors. We then identified some pain points and had users rank the product performance of different tools. We saw a demand from contractors for a quality recovery machine and wanted to get into the market.”
The digital display on the MR45 shows message codes and is easy to read from a distance. Per Fieldpiece, it weighs in at 22 pounds and is water-resistant with an IP24 rating, so it can withstand direct rain. The MR45 also features low-voltage drop protection. It starts and runs easily at voltage as low as 90, so technicians don’t get motor burnout due to long or lightweight extension cords.
“I appreciate this product’s light weight, ease of operation, and speed,” said one DDA judge.
Chuck Jackson, owner, Rice Energywise Heating & Air, LaGrange, Georgia, said some early durability concerns proved false.
“I was concerned about its durability and ability to stand the test of time along with the abuse the Southern sun can dish out,” he said. “[However] I’ve had one of these machines for about nine months, and I stored it in the bed of my truck, where it endured rain, sleet, snow, and temperatures ranging between 17° and 120°F in direct sunlight. I’ve even had to break it loose from the bed of my truck where it was frozen stiff. While weathering those conditions, it had everything imaginable bounced off it in the process and survived. Dependability is an understatement concerning the display.”
Fieldpiece used value engineering, quality engineering, focus groups, surveys, and beta testing during the two years of research that went into the design of the MR45.
“What really sets the product apart is its speed,” said French. “I recently received a text from a local guy who loves the machine, and while he was out on business, his owner went out and actually bought himself one.”
Jackson believes that research has helped the product become one of the best in the marketplace.
“It’s been said a time or two over the years that I’m a passionate individual when I’m both for and against a product,” he said. “I’d like to believe that exposing this product to several online HVAC groups with members in the tens of thousands has already sold dozens of these machines. I believe this product is the best that money can buy.”
French said that just as with every product Fieldpiece Instruments introduces, constant improvements and innovations will be key to the future of the MR45.
“It’s a great idea, is easy to use, and is compact in size.”
These comments from a DDA judge were in reference to the Yellow Jacket® OMNI™ Digital Vacuum Gauge, which won the silver award in this category.
The compact vacuum gauge has an easy-to-clean vacuum sensor that handles 450-psi positive pressure and reads several units of vacuum (microns, millibar, Torr, and Pascal) and has a vacuum reading resolution of 1 micron from 1,000-5 microns. It features an audio and visual signal when the target vacuum level is reached and an electronic paper display is used for clear visibility — even in direct sunlight.
“This product is used to measure the vacuum level of an a/c or refrigeration system that has been evacuated,” said Gary Lampasona, vice president of sales and marketing, Ritchie Engineering Co. “This provides technicians with confirmation that the non-condensable gases (i.e. air and moisture/water) have been removed from the system and that the system is not leaking following an install or repair.”
Lampasona said Yellow Jacket started research and development of the vacuum sensor about six years ago, and the sensor in the OMNI Digital Vacuum Gauge is a culmination of those efforts.
“This product provides technicians with a new option for obtaining vacuum readings during a system evacuation,” he said. “Its feature list makes it unique and differentiates it from any other vacuum gauge in the market.”
Moving forward, the company plans to continue to improve its sensor technology and tie it to additional wireless applications.
Winning the bronze award is the 490A Hydronic Differential Pressure Manometer from Dwyer Instruments Inc.
This versatile, hand-held, battery-operated manometer is used to capture the pressure measurements necessary to balance HVAC hydronic systems. It can be used with most liquid media compatible with 316L SS.
The bracket that holds the manometer and valve has magnetic mounting or pipe-strap mounting to provide hands-free operation. The hydronic kit option comes with all of the fittings and tools contractors need to balance a system.
According to Brad Croasdale, HVAC business development manager, Dwyer Instruments Inc., during the year of research that went into this product, Dwyer product managers and engineers took balancing training courses to understand the book methods for balancing systems.
“They also spent time with actual balancing contractors, in focus groups, and during on-site visits to experience the ‘real world’ aspect of balancing systems,” he said.
Dwyer also added extra strength magnets to the rubber boot/sheath of the device to bear the weight of the manometer with added force of the hoses being pulled. Croasdale said this added magnetic element means contractors won’t have to worry about the manometer falling off of the duct. Dwyer also added an optional pipe strap for applications without a magnetic surface.
Future plans for the product include integration into Dwyer’s wireless family of products and interfaced with the 2014 DDA Gold award-wining Mobile Meter® Software Test Instrument App.
Publication date: 7/24/2016