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When it comes to tools/test instruments, being connected is totally in. Manufacturers are looking to innovate in ways that address current connectivity trends within the tools/test instrument space, including creating more smart tools with wireless connectivity, cutting down on job time, decreasing safety risk and increasing energy savings, and ensuring the tools are prepared for the new rules and regulations around A2L refrigerants.


Fieldpiece Instruments

Tools (and manufacturers of said tools) have to be prepared for the new rules and regulations around A2L refrigerants. And Fieldpiece Instruments’ tools are ready for that transition.

“All of our currently sold vacuum pumps, leak detectors, digital manifolds, recovery machines, and wireless probes all have A2L compatibility,” said Diana Liem, head of marketing at Fieldpiece Instruments.

Fieldpiece Instruments CAT85.

ELIMINATE: The CAT85 eliminates the need for a water trap, thus eliminating steps contractors have to take. (Courtesy of Fieldpiece Instruments)

This year, the Fieldpiece booth featured new combustion analyzers, the CAT85 and the CAT45, a new category for Fieldpiece that primarily affects the heating season.

The CAT85 and CAT45 enable HVACR professionals to assess heating system emissions, draft pressure, and temperatures. Featuring a thick over-molded construction, a long flexible hose/cord, and a padded carrying case, the combustion analyzers are designed to handle the rigors of a job site and measure O2, CO, CO2, flue temperature, air temperature, and draft/gas pressure to ensure combustion safety and efficiency.

Combustion analyzers have a lot of jobs to do, and Fieldpiece’s goal was to make the process simpler.

“Our patent-pending SensorVault Technology prolongs sensor life by keeping sensors clean between uses. This limits sensor degradation and allows us to guarantee them for four years. And replacements can be done in the field, minimizing downtime in addition to lowering the cost of ownership,” Liem said.

On the commercial and residential side, the CAT85 features a built-in manometer. Fieldpiece’s Hydrocycle Technology eliminates the need for a water trap in the CAT85. The water automatically separates and gets pumped right back into the flue — or rather “shoots out,” as Liem described it, thus eliminating steps on jobsites and increasing productivity.

Both systems also connect wirelessly to the Job Link App, feature 1,000 feet of wireless range, and have large touchscreen displays.

“With the combustion analyzers, we have reduced the number of tools needed to be carried into the field and help the techs perform their job tasks easier, faster, and more efficiently,” Liem said.


Test Products International

There’s been a big push towards smart, Bluetooth-connected devices that allow technicians the ability to manipulate data in real time, said J Peter Aleskus III, national sales manager at Test Products International (TPI) USA.

“Job management reports and measurement analysis can now be easily documented. These innovations have allowed for greater efficiencies while benchmarking and reporting. It is our goal to help reduce customer callbacks by emphasizing proper installation and service best practices, and we can help do this by benchmarking key measurements,” Aleskus said.

In response to the push towards Bluetooth, TPI has completely embraced it in their entire line of instruments.

“All our products will eventually be Bluetooth-enabled. Bluetooth is here to stay and it is a software innovation that will continue to deliver these new efficiencies,” Aleskus said.

Test Products International SPCHDLX.

MANIPULATE: The SPCHDLX charging kit for AC/R charging includes Bluetooth enabled tools allowing to monitor data in real time. (Courtesy of Test Products International USA)

At this year’s AHR Expo, TPI showcased its SPCHDLX charging kit for AC/R charging. Every tool in the kit is Bluetooth enabled, and the kit includes two IAQ probes to expand measurement capabilities, two lo/high pressure probes, and two temperature clamps.

To utilize TPI’s job management functions and Bluetooth connectivity, TPI has an app where contractors and technicians can create jobs, attach measurements, and share and manage files easily.

“[TPI View] is also one single application for use with all your TPI devices. And we can set up to eight different devices on your phone at the same time,” Aleskus said. “Let’s say I do a furnace install. I can take all the parameters and send it to a job … and then I can email that out to the people and say, ‘Here, here's what was done.’ So we can trend it over time. We can take the readings and address what they look like and use them as a baseline so we can figure out if there’s any problems moving forward … The reality is we are trying to put tools in contractor’s hands that’ll eliminate the callbacks.”


Malco Products

It’s been a busy year for trade professionals, so there’s a need for greater efficiency and time savings. Getting jobs done faster and getting them right the first time is paramount, especially considering the labor shortage.

With efficiency comes the lasting trend of safety and ergonomics — making sure that the products work for the contractors, and that trade professionals aren’t sacrificing their health and safety just to get a job done quickly, said Rich Benninghoff, president and CEO of Malco Products SBC.

This year at the Expo, Malco highlighted a brand-new Andy Snip: the Andy Aluminum Handled Offset Left Snips 12” (MC12L).

“It creates tighter radiuses when you're cutting left hand, and we can get a longer continuous cut with because of the offset, the angle that it cuts at. So it makes a smoother, tighter cut, and it’s more efficient.”

The MC12L Andy Snips are built with strong, lightweight aluminum for ease of use and durability.

“A full 3-inch cutting length reduces the total number of cuts and repetitive motions, saving the user time and effort. The sharp bottom cutting jaw is constructed of tough tool steel, while the upper cutting blade can be easily replaced every 20,000 cycles to extend its overall life. And the ergonomic offset handle provides a safer and more comfortable angle for cutting to reduce hand fatigue,” Benninghoff said.

Users of the MC12L Andy Snips can enjoy a 45% greater length of cut, 60% faster cutting speeds, maneuverability for continuous cut radiuses half the size of competition (with high cut quality), and a lower jaw made of investment-cast tool steel that allows for starter holes as small as ½-inch.

“We do a lot of research and feedback opportunities with the end-users themselves, to get a true sense of their pain points and what could be done to address them,” said Benninghoff.


Ritchie/Yellow Jacket

“Our engineering department at Yellow Jacket is challenged with the prospect of designing new products and modifying existing ones to meet the market trends. It’s an exciting time for all tool and test manufacturers,” said Gary Lampasona, vice president of sales and marketing.

Yellow Jacket CA502P.

PRINT OUT: The wireless printer option within the CA502P makes giving and receiving data that much easier. (Courtesy of Yellow Jacket)

To meet the market trends of digitalization and wireless connectivity, along with changing tools and test instruments use as the industry migrates toward A2Ls, Yellow Jacket introduced the CA502 and the CA502P combustion analyzers.

The analyzers (equipped with a magnetic protective holster) fit in the palm of a hand and combine three instruments into one: an ambient CO monitor, a manometer, and an analyzer for assured safety, efficiency, and proper operation of residential and light commercial heating appliances.

“It’s the only combustion analyzer in its class that will give you six parameters on the screen at one time,” Lampasona said.

The ambient CO monitor keeps occupants safe by measuring the “silent killer” through a carbon monoxide analyzer and sensor, and the manometer reads draft pressures of the system. The inline condensate trap and soot filter provides easy viewing, changeout, and cleanup at the end of a job. A replaceable filter is integrated into the suction line and can be easily replaced while emptying the water trap. The onboard pre-calibrated O2 sensors are easily field-replaceable, allowing for reduced downtime. CO over-limit sensing is included to provide sensor longevity.

“So it gives a really good picture of everything that’s going on in that heating appliance … Some of the other things it does nicely and naturally is it has a local printer,” Lampasona said.

The CA502P features a wireless printer option that makes the giving of data time-efficient. A QR code prints with the data, and when scanned on a smart device, immediately downloads the information. Anything that the tablet does can be saved on the tablet itself, and through the mobile app users can access files and send them, and also download a CSV file to excel, Lampasona said.