Although refrigerants have received intense scrutiny over the past decade or so, contractors and technicians know it is only one piece of the HVACR puzzle. As contractors turn more and more to computers and software to help them find solutions, the makers of such software are trying to look at the big picture as well.

New offerings from ESS include examples of this comprehensive approach to refrigerant management. The company has integrated its user interface of Refrigerant Compliance Management Softwareâ„¢ (RCMS) into its Compliance Suite line of health and safety management software. The suite's eight other programs deal with training management, MSDS, safety, right to know, auditing, waste management, industrial hygiene, and liability claims management.

"For example," said the company, "those who use two of the suite's programs - Training Management Softwareâ„¢ and MSDS Management Softwareâ„¢ - will have the ability to track their technicians' refrigeration and certification training records, and view MSDS information for any chemical, including refrigerants, used at a facility."

"This is the first time solutions for safety and refrigerant recordkeeping have been merged to address compliance issues that historically have been viewed as separate and unrelated," said Mark Harbin, refrigerant product manager for ESS. "We can now provide facilities and environmental, health, and safety personnel with a single set of software tools that ensures both groups' compliance requirements are addressed easily and uniformly."

Ensuring Compliance

The company's original environmental recordkeeping tool for refrigerants and other ozone-depleting chemicals and predecessor of RCMS, Refrigerant Compliance Manager (RCM), was developed to maintain compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations by tracking refrigerant usage, leaks, and disposal.

It was designed to record all equipment information, including a history of service records, record consumption, and leakage rates. With the technology, a contractor or technician can prepare reports for equipment that exceeds EPA leakage rates and identify potential problems.

According to the company, users are able to go step-by-step through a series of yes or no questions to implement the repair and reporting required by the EPA for refrigerant leaks. It is also possible, the company said, to track recovery/recycle unit details including filter changes, maintenance history, and field usage records to provide EPA compliance. From there, service can be scheduled. Should the EPA require it, it is possible to generate requested reports. It can also keep track of technicians' certification and training records.

Harbin noted that in addition to the branding and interface changes, RCMS "will include some robust reporting and functionality features not originally available with the RCM product. Users will have improved network capability through SQL Server and customized 3-D reporting with Crystal Reports. Also, there is a Web-based user interface version of RCMS, which will allow users to enter refrigerant records remotely."

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Publication date: 06/07/2004