Daikin recently rolled out its Daikin One Cloud Services. This is a cloud-based portal for a contractor’s office computer and also an app for their smart devices that allows remote access to a customer’s system. Jim Lowell, IoT manager for Daikin North America, recently spoke with The ACHR News about this new product and how it will help contractors.
ACHR NEWS: What advantage does Daikin One Cloud Services provide to HVAC contractors?
Lowell: Our Daikin Comfort Pro contractors can see anything that is on the Daikin One+ smart thermostat as if they were standing in the home next to the thermostat. Every homeowner setting, every contractor setting, every piece of information that’s on that thermostat is available in Cloud Services.
What’s really common are those day-two callbacks. The system is installed on day one, and on day two, the customer calls and says there’s some whistling coming out of a return air vent in the bedroom. That may be because an airflow setting needs a slight tweaking. Now, if a contractor gets a call like that, they can call up the homeowner’s thermostat, go to the airflow settings, and make a trim adjustment to alleviate that problem — without rolling a truck and without bothering the homeowner. They can do it instantly while the homeowner is still on the phone with them.
ACHR NEWS: Has demand for remote access grown since the start of the pandemic?
Lowell: There’s always a reason to want to do it. Part of it is about being remote and contactless service. Part of it is just about providing the highest level of service that a Daikin Comfort Pro can provide to the customer. The customer doesn’t have to wait at home for a technician. Regardless of what the outside world situation is at any given point, that’s going to be very desirable to homeowners and to Daikin Comfort Pros. Keeping the homeowner in charge of their own data is paramount too. They have to provide the Daikin Comfort Pro with permission to monitor their system or make changes to their system. The only thing that we’re monitoring is system performance data ... to make sure they don’t have downtime.
ACHR NEWS: How was Daikin One Cloud Services developed?
Lowell: It was developed in-house at Daikin North America in the Houston area by our controls team with a lot of input from our customer council. In the commercial world, remote monitoring and remote diagnostics have been in place for a number of years. That’s starting to transition over to the residential space now.
We had the advantage of hindsight to see what we could do better. One of the unique things we’ve done is we designed Daikin One Cloud Services to be compatible with not only conventional unitary split systems for ducted applications, but also for our mini-splits and multi-splits, for ductless application, and for our VRV and VRV LIFE systems. So it’s compatible across almost the entire Daikin portfolio of residential products.
The other thing we tried to do was make sure we designed a tool that had a great user interface, that had a great user experience, and that the experience was consistent across all product portfolios. It was designed to be very easy to understand and use. The interface was written, to the greatest degree possible, in plain English. For example, much of the diagnostic and troubleshooting was written using simple, common terms so any technician can start utilizing the benefits of this tool right away.
We provide a lot of technical data within the Cloud Services tool. It’s available to contractors because they need that kind of data. And we’ve tried to make access to the data as intuitive as possible. We’ve tried to make interpretation of that data as intuitive as possible.
ACHR NEWS: What is the value proposition the HVAC contractor presents to homeowners?
Lowell: The homeowner value proposition is probably best defined by the term “peace of mind.” With the homeowner’s permission, their contractor can have access to the system and its performance information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If there’s ever an issue, it can often be solved quickly and remotely. When there’s not, having that information at the contractor’s fingertips means when they do a roll a truck and a technician comes to that home, the technician is going to be prepared. They are going to know what is going on, they’ve already seen the system data and, in many cases, they can already have the part on the truck and solve the issue much quicker.
We’ve had the product in the market for about eight months prior to the commercial launch for beta testing. We had nearly 100 contractors across the country and about 700 homes that we were monitoring. The contractors who were part of our beta program just raved about it. It really differentiated them from their competitors in the marketplace and made them appear more professional and more in tune with smart home capabilities. It did help them grow their revenue and reduce the cost of service.
The inclusion of smart device in homes is becoming so common that not only are consumers getting used to the idea, it’s becoming expected. They expect a contractor to be able to monitor their system remotely. We want to be able to help our Daikin Comfort Pros provide that level of service.
ACHR NEWS: What is the next step for Daikin One Cloud Services?
Lowell: Because this a cloud-based software tool, it’s not a one-and-done launch. We can continuously improve, adapt, add new features, and make this product better in the future. We want to add more capabilities for monitoring indoor air quality, for example. That’ll be coming out shortly. We’ll be providing new predictive diagnostic and AI information to help contractors do an even better job. We’ll be adding other features to help the contractors build closer connections with their customers and provide good data to their customers to make good decisions about what kind of equipment purchases they want to make. We really think we’ve only scratched the surface on what we can provide to our Daikin Comfort Pro contractors and to homeowners in terms of remote diagnostic capabilities and peace of mind.