Just a few short months ago, the term social distancing was almost never heard. Now, social distancing informs nearly every activity we complete. Moreover, social distancing is a core component of safely returning to work according to the CDC guidelines. Employers across the nation – including those that work in the HVAC industry – have been spending much time recently determining how to move forward under what is being deemed as the ‘new normal’, in which concerns for employee and customer safety are paramount. Technological solutions can help overcome some of the most challenging aspects of resuming and maintaining operations.
One of the greatest challenges lies in addressing how to safely bring back workers to job sites in a way that minimizes physical interaction. Whether it is a repair call or a new construction installation, HVAC employees often come into direct contact with one another and with other contractors and customers. Contactless and remote solutions may be the technological answer to allowing these workers to still be effective and reliable while preventing unnecessary physical contact.
Contactless technologies have the unique capacity to help employees in the field and can even help those who are not fully trained yet and those who are not familiar with the details of a particular project. With contactless solutions, these employees can dive in immediately and move forward with projects. They can use the platform to connect with tech experts in the home office to clarify any questions that may arise while working in the field. Some may think that the same functionality can be achieved through email or a standard video call, but the reality is that contactless technology offers so much more.
In addition to functionality that supports HD-quality video calls, they feature a unique drawing tool that works directly on the live video feed to make clear notes or identify precise areas of concern. Taken together, these features allow employees to successfully collaborate on projects without close physical proximity, but still in a way that ensures problems are identified and resolved quickly. Workers get correct answers immediately rather than waiting for an email response or addressing uncertainty that may arise from a standard video feed. This uncertainty grows when projects become more complex.
For example, contactless technologies can clarify any questions that arise while on the job site in real time, ensuring that there are no costly delays or miscommunications. During the construction of any type of building or structure or during the repair of an existing HVAC system, questions often arise. There is a seemingly endless number of configurations and different systems that can lead to a high degree of uncertainty on how to move forward when a technician is in the field. When questions like this arise, the field worker can show his supervisor a live video stream of the area in question and then use a digital drawing tool on the actual video to circle or point to the exact duct, compressor, wire, unit, etc. needing to be addressed so they together can accurately install, repair, or build in the correct area without a lot of verbal guesswork. With virtual, contactless solutions like this, clarity of the specifications can be realized immediately, ensuring the HVAC job is done right the first time. More importantly, the convenience of these technologies can help maintain social distancing in the workplace while working on HVAC jobs of all sizes.
The potential for this type of technology in the HVAC industry is almost limitless. Contactless technology can assist with intricate repairs across all types of systems, even those that are custom-designed, and anything else with parts, wiring, and small or large manufacturing components. Contactless platforms ensure that clear communication is achieved in a remote manner, which contributes to completing jobs successfully and quickly while also ensuring worker safety. The level of detail in contactless communication can reduce the time needed to make repairs or address maintenance issues from hours to minutes.
However, before jumping in and implementing any new communication platform, companies should proceed cautiously given security concerns – which became paramount during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies that neglected to implement strong security protocols suffered data hacks and breaches, which is always a concern but especially on those HVAC companies that work on highly sensitive projects. Companies should take precautions to ensure they are only working with trusted and reputable industry experts that can identify potential security concerns and ensure they are addressed fully.
Shifting to new working environments will be a challenge for many companies that work in the HVAC industry. Companies can put themselves in a better position to ‘weather the storm’ by identifying tools and resources that can be implemented in a way that promotes remote working and social distancing policies.
Contactless solutions will likely play a big role in the transformation of these industries. They can be highly effective at both ensuring work still gets done on pace with project timelines and that it gets done with expert oversight and the guidance necessary to meet high-quality standards. Now is the time to prepare for the future and begin to explore ways that contactless solutions can address the unique needs of your company in its new working environment.