The Gold award for the Contractor Service and Software category went to SmartDiagnostics with SmartTutor™ (SDST) from Smartech Alliance, a division of SmartHVAC LLC.
SDST provides HVAC service techs complete diagnostic checklists along with a continuously growing video library of built-in diagnostic training. This results in techs being most thorough at first identifying problems, resulting in providing clients with more complete solutions. The techs are gaining training while on the job. With lower-skilled techs, SDST assists them in growing their knowledge and skill sets. With higher-skilled techs, it takes advantage of their own knowledge and results in their providing clients even better remedial solutions.
HVAC techs responding to failed or failing HVAC systems can go through the different diagnostic tasks for all parts of the HVAC systems being addressed using any tablet with cellular connection. They see the diagnostics list on their tablets, as well as watch support videos. SDST comes with a scheduling, dispatching, and quoting system for contractors who need this capability. For those who do not, SDST can simply focus on improving diagnostics and offering better solutions.
The primary designers of SDST have all been in the HVAC business for decades, either as owners, salespeople, or techs. SDST is the result of 30 years of multiple industry experiences in developing maintenance and diagnostics procedures and software.
One advantage of SDST is it helps less experienced technicians troubleshoot problems, freeing up more experienced technicians who would otherwise have to spend time providing guidance. Dave Klunder, president of Robbins Heating and Air Conditioning in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been using Smartech products for about 15 years. He said this is the most complete tool yet, meeting most of the needs of any contractor or technician.
“You can take someone with minimal experience and get them up to speed,” Klunder said.
It has benefits for veteran technicians as well. The checklists provided by SDST ensure everyone does all the work and provides a consistent result. That’s crucial for the image of the industry, Klunder said. A key feature for techs and their clients is the ability of SDST to produce a PDF SmartDiagnostics Report that can be emailed with a quote to correct a failed or failing system.
Going forward, Smartech will collect training videos from techs around the country based on actual experiences with failed or failing components and add these to the SDST database.
The Silver award for the Contractor Service and Software category went to Kwik Model with EnergyGauge Loads from Coded Energy Inc.
This is a 3-D residential HVAC design software. The user interface is designed to quickly and easily, creating a 3-D computer model of a house with no CAD software or CAD experience. It automatically calculates the surface take-offs that are needed for the heating and cooling load calculations and duct sizing. These are summarized in easy-to-read tables, which can be exported in spreadsheet format if needed.
The load calculation “engine” is EnergyGauge Loads (EGL). EGL is developed by the Florida Solar Energy Center, a research division of the University of Central Florida. It is approved for Manual J and Manual D calculations by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).
The Kwik Model user interface is based on a realistic video game platform. It can draw realistic HVAC ducts, equipment, registers, and fittings to scale. Ducts can be sized manually or automatically. It can draw flex ducts and rigid ducts. It can also be used for Title 24 Energy Code compliance modeling.
It took three years to develop the Kwik Model. Coded Energy used eight HVAC contractors and installers as beta testers.
The Bronze award for the Contractor Service and Software category went to the RTUToolKit from Johnson Controls Inc.
The RTUToolKit gives contractors all system information in one app. Information available includes product specific performance data, step-by-step startup documents that walk the technician through the process, installation, and maintenance; manuals for ongoing unit support; and backup control files. The app also offers direct connection to technical support. The app was specifically designed for contractors with their particular daily job in mind. It was created following discussions with technicians, contractors, and technical support team members to determine exactly their needs on the job.
Key features on the app include access to product details and features, startup guides, and contact information for technician support. With a scan of a QR code, technicians can see all information about a commercial rooftop unit they’re installing or servicing, such as operating documents, warranty information, wiring diagrams, and promotional warranty registration. This provides clarity and minimizes frustration on the job. Startup guides are available to provide information for pre-start, functionality, and control circuit check. There’s no need to look online or shuffle through paperwork to find the contact information technicians need for troubleshooting support. The RTUToolKit includes all contact information a technician would need for issues on or off the jobsite, saving them time and ensuring they have the support they need.