While there’s no quick solution to the nationwide shortage of skilled labor, one HVAC manufacturer’s latest technology aims to simplify the installation process while increasing a contractor’s productivity and profitability.
Trane Residential began development of Trane Link after listening to contractors consistently say that their No. 1 business problem was finding good, qualified technicians.
While HVAC contractors have struggled with the skilled labor shortage with for years, it has become more pronounced recently. Why the shift? First, business has been very good for the HVAC industry during the last two years – specifically the residential sector. But also because the unemployment levels overall are at a multi-year low. The October unemployment rate was 3.7 percent which was .9 percent lower than October 2021. The lack of workers remains a big issue for the industry.
So, what is an HVAC contractor to do? One solution is to follow the adage… work smarter not harder. In the HVAC world that means smarter products. That’s where Trane Residential’s new Trane Link technology helps bridge the gap.
“When we talked to dealers about what those special skill sets were, we started to realize that we could solve those problems with technology, and ultimately, that new technology became our new Trane Link system,” explained Mark Woodruff, senior product manager for Trane Residential.
After three years of research, Trane introduced the Trane Link technology in April into a limited number of markets.
Created to provide technicians with a plug-and-play experience, Trane Link assists with installation accuracy through automated HVAC system configuration, charging and testing. Integrated into Trane’s new line of variable speed systems, Trane Link technology connects the units through a centralized brain and alerts technicians of any equipment faults. Should an equipment fault be identified, Trane Link provides technicians with a full description and list of potential causes.
The Trane Link system also includes a Smart Charge function, which automatically completes the refrigerant charging process by providing verified measurements and instant feedback through the Trane Diagnostics mobile app.
“They connect the refrigerant bottle to the equipment, along with the proprietary charging tool, run the Smart Charge algorithm, and it automatically will charge the system for them while they do other work. They don't have to babysit the equipment while it charges, and it charges in accurately and consistently,” said Woodruff.
Benefits of the technology extend beyond installation. Once a homeowner opts into the diagnostics program, technicians can remotely monitor the system; receive alerts from any faults; and view, edit, and adjust system settings as necessary. This saves the technician and homeowner time, as every issue may not require a home visit. If a home visit is necessary, the technician can arrive onsite with the parts needed to repair the system.
Brandon Krantz, service and install manager at Krantz Kooling & Heating, said Trane Link provides a superior installation experience.
“Some of the hardest things for my installers to do is to set the equipment up correctly. The Trane Link system basically programs itself, and it definitely speeds up the install. It gives me a lot of peace of mind because when that installer leaves the job, I know that the equipment is set up correctly,” said Krantz.
So what exactly does this mean for the workforce of an HVAC contractor? Well, it is beneficial in multiple ways. First off, since the process is plug and play, contractors can send less experienced technicians on calls instead of leaning more heavily on their veteran, top-tier talent. This allows the dispatcher to save the most skilled technicians for other installs that help the company’s bottom line.
The ease of install also saves time and money by helping reduce the number of callbacks, including the top reason for callbacks – incorrect installation of a system.
Finally, the added technology allows contractors to sell the higher margin, variable speed equipment, removing the hesitancy to upsell because they now no longer need to send out their most savvy tech for install.
It is all part of a process that helps the contractor own relationship with the customer.
As a result of Trane Link’s successful regional debut, the technology has already been named The ACHR NEWS’ Gold-winner of their 2022 Dealer Design Awards within the HVAC Residential Equipment category. Additionally, due to its diagnostic capabilities, Trane Link received special recognition from the 2022 Integrated Home Competition.
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