Technology is amazing. It has simplified peoples’ lives all around the world. The other day, I paid my car payment as well as my cable and utility bills from apps on my smartphone all while lying on my couch. In fact, the only thing I physically mail in anymore is my water bill — something I find quite annoying. I guess I am a millennial after all. 

With all the new and emerging technologies out there, it’s also an exciting time for the HVAC industry. What makes it exciting is not just the latest and greatest air conditioners or heat pumps; it’s also taking new technologies that have nothing to do with the industry and finding a way to incorporate them into the HVAC world.

Take virtual reality (VR) for example. At the 2017 AHR Expo in Las Vegas, several manufacturers showed off VR capabilities in their booths and explained how the technology is now being used for product demonstrations, sales calls, training opportunities, and more. Additionally, Mauzy Heating, Air & Solar in San Diego now uses VR viewers on sales calls with customers, which allows them to try out the technology and view the company’s warehouse, offices, and more.

Drones are another example of an emerging technology being applied to HVAC. In fact, with Federal Aviation Administration restrictions loosening, several commercial HVAC contractors are investing in drone technologies.

“I expect, in the not too distant future, we will be conducting rooftop maintenance and discover a problem that can’t be fixed without the OEM replacement part for the repair,” Joe Nichter, president, Comfort Systems USA Southwest, Houston, told The NEWS. “Since all our technicians have iPads, we’ll take pictures of the part, the unit model, and serial number and forward them to our local supplier. Once the pictures are received, the distributor will be able to dispatch a drone with the replacement parts. This process will enable our technicians to continue with this maintenance and move on to the other units.”

Here is something else to think about: The first introductions of highly automated light-duty vehicles (LDVs) are expected to begin in 2020 with steady growth anticipated to begin in 2025, according to a report from Navigant Research. Does this mean in just a few short years, we will all be zipping around like George Jetson? And how will this new technology impact the HVAC industry? 

Dave Kyle, president, Trademasters Service Corp. in Lorton, Virginia, believes autonomous vehicles will change everything and that HVAC businesses would be making a mistake not to plan accordingly for new opportunities in the market.

“Even though it’s not tied directly into our industry, it is,” Kyle said. “This is one time our industry can look ahead four or five years and be ready for it. We’ve oftentimes let things creep up on us, whether it was technology, industry changes, or shifting markets, but the autonomous vehicle thing is absolutely going to happen, and it’s going to change everything. It’s time to start thinking and planning so that when we get there, we have viable business models that match that marketplace. Change is hard for everybody. It’s hard to think something this significant is going to happen. Don’t be in denial. Embrace the opportunity.”

It’s sometimes easy to get caught up in the day-to-day happenings in your business. However, it’s important to stay relevant on new and upcoming technology that may help improve your company’s efficiency or even your bottom line. Make a plan to adopt some type of new technology, whether it’s a smartphone app, VR viewers, drones, or autonomous vehicles. As Benjamin Franklin supposedly once said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” 

Publication date: 8/28/2017

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