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FIELDBOSS Hits the Road for AHR 2018

FIELDBOSS is on the road again. Our next stop is  The International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo), which started 86 years ago and has grown into the event of the year for the HVACR industry.  The 2018 Show will be held in Chicago, hosting more than 2,000 exhibitors and attracting crowds of 65,000 industry professionals from every state in America and 165 countries worldwide.  Come visit us at booth 3430.

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IoT Offers Both Opportunities and Risks for the Independent Contractor

The Internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and internet connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data. It is estimated that the IoT will consist of about 30 billion objects by 2020. For contractors, IoT is something that presents both opportunities and risks.

 

IoT is used to relay equipment performance data so that failures are communicated the instant they happen. Data can also be used to predict failures before they happen. OEM’s are creating quite a lot of buzz in the field service industry. The main messaging being that by having an “eye in the sky” the OEM or service company can reduce the need to send a technician on site as frequently, thereby reducing costs and minimizing out of service time. Given the acute shortage of labour in the industry, anything that can help reduce service or maintenance calls would make sense to promote.

 

IoT is new, unproven and brings up the following points for contractors to consider:

 

1.      Is it possible that remote monitoring results in increased service calls if the sensor data generates either false positive readings, or readings that are inconclusive?

2.      Does the IoT capability expose the service provider to increased performance expectations by the building owner?

3.      Does the IoT capability expose both the service provider and building owner to increased liability in the event of an accident?

4.      What is the cost vs benefit of implementing an IoT platform vs using experienced technicians who follow schedules and procedures?

5.      Who owns the data? The technology company? The service provider? The building owner?

 

OEM’s have put a stake in the ground with IoT that is here to stay. They have also given the independent contractor another angle to compete. IoT offerings by OEM’s will be expensive so independent contractors should be able to compete on price as the Microsoft Platform that FIELDBOSS is built in is IoT ready. If you would like more information about how FIELDBOSS can help you stay competitive in the world of IoT, please contact us today.

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Employee Spotlight: Kristin McLaughlan

The Rimrock team is made up of many hard working talented individuals with interesting stories to tell. In our Employee Spotlight series, you’ll meet some of these people, learn what they do, and how they keep Rimrock exciting and fun.

This week we shine the spotlight on Kristin McLaughlan, our Marketing Manager at Rimrock.

Kristin grew up in Caledon East (perhaps you have driven through it on your way to Collingwood while trying to avoid the treacherous 400 on a Friday evening). Kristin moved to Toronto after University, and then to Northern California for 3 years. She has recently returned to Toronto and is quickly remembering what -30 feels like on her face. #backinthe6ix

Prior to working at Rimrock, Kristin had two jobs. Her first job was as a Public Relations Assistant. She describes the experience as Devil Wears Prada, but without the glam. People compared her boss to Meryl Streep’s character so it’s no surprise that she only lasted a year before moving on to become a Marketing Coordinator for a Wellness Center.

Kristin spends most of her spare time teaching and choreographing for dance schools around Toronto. She also just joined Orange Theory Fitness and loves it!

Read on to find out more about Kristin!

What do you love most about working at Rimrock & how long have you been here?

I’ve been at Rimrock for over 5 years now (whoa!). This company is pretty darn mindful of its employees’ happiness. Who wouldn’t value that, right? I also love being surrounded by smart, talented people and I love being constantly exposed to new and interesting marketing challenges.

You have done a lot of travelling. What is your favorite place that you have visited and where is your next dream vacation spot?

Ahh it’s so hard to just pick one! One that really sticks out in my mind is Santorini, Greece. If you visit this place and don’t fall in love with it, you’re a lunatic. Santorini has the most beautiful views you will ever see. Because the island is a caldera (a large volcanic crater formed by a volcanic eruption), wherever you are on the island you’ll have gorgeous views of the other side. The whitewashed walls, maze-like streets, beautifully friendly people and utter food-heaven around every corner will knock your socks right off. Next on my bucket list would be to visit this luxe Igloo hotel in Switzerland.

If you could have magical powers, what kind of powers would you choose?

I’d have to say the power to apparate. In methods of travel, I just don’t think there’s any better way to go. Just instantly appear wherever you want. I feel like pasta: *pop* appear in Italy. I feel like sushi: *pop* appear in Toyko. I guess a lot of what I do is focused around food. Maybe one day we’ll have a working hyperloop and it’ll be almost as good.

Tell us a “fun fact” about yourself that your colleagues might not already know.

I guess a pretty interesting and fun fact is that in my 4th year of University, I auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance Canada (SYTYCD) and it was a pretty cool experience! I made the top 100 before I eventually got cut. It also means that I can share some juicy stories about what it’s like to be a part of a reality TV show.

What TV shows/music/apps are you currently obsessed with right now?

Ugh. Reality TV is my guilty pleasure – I’m so embarrassed to admit it. I’m obsessed with all things related to the bachelor franchise, so obviously I’m tuning in to watch Arie find “love” every Monday night. #sobasic. I also love binging true crime shows on Netflix and just started watching the new season of Black Mirror!

If you could have a drink with anyone (fictional, alive, dead, famous, non-famous) who would it be and why?

That’s a hard one. I have a long list of very interesting and accomplished people… but if I’m truly being honest, if I could have a drink with anyone, I’d have a drink with myself at 70 years old. Firstly, I want to see if I grow up to be the cool, bitter old lady I hope I’ll be. Secondly, I’m sure she’ll have some pretty good advice for me about events that haven’t happened yet. I just really hope it doesn’t Butterfly Effect me though. That’d be a bummer.

Words to live by — What are yours?

You can’t control the events or people around you, but you do have control over yourself. All you can do is adjust and do what you can to make a positive impact on your life, health, happiness, and others.

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Why Elevator Mechanics Had the Highest Employment Growth Rate in 2017

Automation may have made elevator operators obsolete, but it’s quite the opposite for those who install and repair elevators. Elevator Mechanic shot up the Canadian Business ranking of Canada’s Best Jobs in 2017. It had the highest growth rate and rose from No. 74 in 2016 to No. 10 in 2017.,

Median Salary: $83,844
Salary Growth (2010–2016): +16%
Total Employees: 7,000
Change in Employees (2010–2016): +94%

What fueled the tremendous growth in the need for elevator mechanics?

The booming construction market is fueling the demand for high-rises, and by extension, elevators. Adding to the construction boom is the Canadian Press investigation last year that revealed a ‘crisis’ in faulty elevators. As a result, there are plenty of opportunities for elevator mechanics as landlords’ scramble for qualified contractors to maintain their systems. Although Canada’s construction boom has led to tremendous growth in the need for elevator technicians— the number of elevator mechanic jobs have grown 94% in Canada – the field is having serious growing pains.

Clearly, elevator mechanics are in short supply. Like other occupations in the skilled labour force, elevator technicians get overlooked when students graduating from high school start looking for careers. As well, there are more people retiring than those coming into the workforce to replace them leaving a huge void to fill.

 

Elevator mechanics face many challenges

Elevators are complex and becoming even more so. Elevator technology is moving so fast that it’s near impossible for technicians to keep pace. “Smart elevators” use algorithms to shuttle passengers more efficiently, and some technologies adjust the heat and air conditioning of office floors based on where people land. Meanwhile, technicians must also deal with elevators that date back to the 1930s, which can be unpredictable. With multiple cars that sometimes dispatch seemingly at their own will, a mix of old and new technologies that make them stubborn to fix, and new flight speeds of 100 floors per minute, being an elevator technician is a tough job.

Along with the challenge of keeping up with the technology is the challenge of keeping pace with maintenance calls. As property owners try to cut costs, technicians are reporting a dangerous lack of maintenance. As well, with the lack of skilled technicians and the increasing number of elevators to be serviced, some technicians rush through hundreds of maintenance jobs per month, reportedly with time limits as quick as seven minutes per visit. Politicians are pushing new policies, but still, increasing numbers of citizens are getting stuck inside elevators, stuck with dangerous ones, if not stuck with the stairs.

Moving forward

Politicians have initiated new legislation. Ontario introduced the Maintenance Control Program for Elevating Devices in 2014, telling mechanics exactly which tasks to perform each month, down to vacuuming the pit. Toronto Member of Parliament Han Dong has also introduced the Reliable Elevators Act, which mandates maintenance timelines and data collection on elevator traffic.

Elevator maintenance is a high-paying job, yet there’s still a mismatch of supply and demand. More mechanics need to be trained, if only to ease the demand on those already working in the field. There is obviously a great need for qualified technicians and an abundance of opportunity for a well-paying career.

FIELDBOSS is a proud member of NAEC, CECA & ECNY. We have studied elevator industry trends, participated in association meetings, and partnered with our elevator customers to develop and enhance our software to meet your unique business needs. Visit us here to request a free demo of our software.

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3 Factors to Consider When Selling Your HVAC Field Service Business

The story has been the same for decades. A talented technician with a dedicated client base leaves his job at an OEM to start a HVAC field service company. He plans to grow the maintenance contract base, with the intention of selling the field service business back to an OEM and “cashing out”. With service contracts worth 30-40x their cash flow, it seems like a sound strategy.  The problem is that often the business owner will have an overinflated view of what his company is worth, and how quickly he will get paid.

 

Here are 3 factors to consider if planning on selling your HVAC field service business:

 

1.      Profitability -Can you accurately prove the profitability and cash flow of the maintenance contracts? If your business management system does not properly allocate costs against the work orders and contracts, your valuation will be subject to discounting.

2.      Business process – Is your business dependant on manual processes from key administrative employees? While every successful business has key employees, if your business processes are manual or dependant on multiple disconnected software products, you will take a hit on the cost to transition your operation to something more streamlined. Buyers will also discount your valuation because you are not operating as profitably as you could be.

3.      Risk – If you are using manual or disconnected software systems, buyers will discount your valuation or lock you in longer to make sure that when they take over, there are no surprises that only the owner can deal with. Businesses with documented processes are a lot less dependant on the owner or the people who are loyal to him.

 

Business systems are not a substitute for quality staff and client relationships but they do take the guesswork out of valuating your business. Contractors whose operations systems are not properly connected to what is happening in the field or in the back office always pay a price when it is time to defend the value of their business. If your plan is selling your HVAC field service business one day, investing in a system now that shows you are in touch with and in control of your operation will help you realize a better selling price and a shorter transition commitment.

FIELDBOSS is a comprehensive HVAC field service software solution designed to continuously expose the vital signs of your business. If you’re thinking about selling your HVAC field service business, let us help you create a profitable business that will be appealing to acquisition candidates and sell quickly for an attractive profit. Contact us here.

 

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3 Reasons to Consolidate Your Elevator Service Business

It takes a lot for a small elevator contractor to succeed – including technical knowledge, business operations acumen and very strong business relationships. It can be overwhelming for an owner to do all things well alone, or with a team that is stretched to the limits. Sometimes it makes more sense to consolidate and become part of a larger organization. By doing so, you can lower overhead costs, create additional revenue streams, attract better employees and achieve general economies of scale.

 

3 Reasons to Consolidate Your Elevator Service Business

 

1. Reduce Costs

The number one reason to consolidate smaller elevator contractor businesses is to reduce operational redundancies and eliminate superfluous staff and administrative functions. Centralizing operations is usually the first thing to happen when consolidation spans multiple locations.

2. Increase Revenue

Businesses expand through either organic sales growth or acquisition. When a contractor is acquired, it might be able to serve building owners on a regional or national basis.

3. Attract Partnerships

When part of a larger organization, a business can establish greater purchasing power on parts or employee benefits. It can also have the advantage of reducing the number of competitors which can be helpful to keep rates higher.

Being an independent elevator contractor can be a lifestyle decision that is compelling on many levels. But as the business grows, the needs of the customers and staff may be too much for an independent contractor to provide. FIELDBOSS is an end-to-end field service software solution that links data between the field, office, customers and their equipment providing real-time profitability information to management. Having this information easily accessible, accurate and up-to-date will make it simple to quantitatively assess the costs and benefits of joining a larger organization which is a healthy exercise good leaders will do as part of their management process.

For more information on how FIELDBOSS can help you weigh the pros and cons of consolidation for your business, contact us here.

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2018 Regulatory Priorities Released by HVACR Industry Alliance

The HVACR Industry Alliance announced its 2018 regulatory priorities at the Alliance’s quarterly meeting in Arlington, Virginia, on Dec. 14, 2017. The plan is to extend and build upon the Industry Consensus Agenda that was adopted and presented to the incoming Trump administration on Jan. 6, 2017.

 

The HVACR Alliance top 6 regulatory priorities for 2018 are:

•           Utilizing industry consensus standards
•           Tax reform and incentives
•           Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) reform
•           Refrigerants and ratifying the Kigali amendment
•           Energy-efficient and quality HVACR installations
•           Workforce development programs

Moving forward

Alliance members plan to meet on a regular basis with leaders of the Trump administration, members of Congress, and regulatory agencies throughout 2018. This will ensure their regulatory priorities wish list remains a top priority amongst policy makers.

“Alliance members had a tremendous impact on federal policies in 2017 because we were united and worked together where we have common policy goals,” said Paul T. Stalknecht, chairman, HVACR Industry Alliance. “The new tax reform law contains several priorities that many alliance members focused on, such as expensing of HVAC equipment for business owners, better tax rates for business owners, and reforms to the estate tax. Several alliance members also shared numerous workforce development initiatives with the Trump administration, such as the national focus on increasing the number of apprenticeship programs. We look forward to continued success as the alliance focuses on quality installation programs, refrigerant policies, and reforming the Energy Policy and Conservation Act in 2018.”

Who are the HVACR Industry Alliance?

Ten years ago, the HVACR Industry Alliance was formed to act as the “unified voice of the North American heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration industry.”

“Our mission is to have an open and frank discussion within the HVACR industry association community on matters of importance and seek consensus positions whenever possible,” said Paul Stalknecht, president and CEO, ACCA, and HVACR Industry Alliance chairman. “At times, we are in 100 percent agreement; other times, we may have only a few members in agreement. When we are 100 percent united, we act accordingly and issue statements advocating the united position of the entire HVACR industry.”

The HVACR Industry Alliance is comprised of: the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association; Air Conditioning Contractors of America; Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute; Air Movement and Control Association InternationalASHRAE; Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International; Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Institute; National Air Filtration Association; North American Technician  Excellence; Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors-National Association; and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society.

FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the HVACR world.  Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter  for all the latest news.

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Ontario Delays Release of Elevator Safety Report

The Ontario government is delaying the release of the elevator safety report commissioned by the TSSA last spring to review the issue of elevator safety and reliability. The report was delivered in November and is being delayed while the Ontario government prepares a response.

According to Barbara Hanson, Ministry of Government Consumer Services, the Ontario government is “currently reviewing the report and considering next steps to improve elevator availability in Ontario. We look forward to making the report publicly available in the coming weeks, along with an action plan to address its recommendations.”

It all began last April  when Ontario Liberal MPP Han Dong proposed the Reliable Elevators Act. As a result, the government ordered the Technical Standards and Safety Authority to commission a study amid concern about growing issues with out-of-service elevators.

In response, the TSSA contracted with Deloitte to do the study and gave them an October deadline.  Just as the elevator safety report was being finalized, the elevator industry released their own report entitled Reliable Elevators – How Ontario Can Become a National Leader for Transportation Systems in Buildings. Their report  included a suite of recommendations to increase reliability and availability, without compromising safety to mechanics and the public. Deloitte went back and revised the report to reflect those concerns and the TSSA had a final version ready in early November. At the time, it said it was awaiting government permission to release it publicly.

“We have asked the TSSA to translate the report into French and convert it to an accessible format before making it public,” Hanson said in early December.

Recently, however, the TSSA confirmed the holdup was at the direction of the government, which faces a general election in six months.

MPP Han Dong has not yet seen the final report but he says he is hopeful that the government was preparing a far-reaching “industry-norm changing” plan to deal with elevator maintenance and availability.

Steve Robinson, a spokesman for the TSSA, said he was unable to provide any details on the report or the holdup of its release.

“It is indeed a TSSA report — we commissioned it and paid for it,” Robinson said. “But we were asked to provide the report to the ministry for their consideration before making it public.”

FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the Elevator world.  Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news.

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Montreal Protocol 30th Anniversary Meeting & the Ratification of the Kigali Amendment

Last month, the Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, welcomed colleagues from around the world for the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, and to celebrate the historic ratification of the Kigali Amendment by over 20 countries.

The Montreal Protocol is a landmark treaty credited with saving the ozone layer and preventing even greater global warming by phasing out most emissions from ozone-destroying substances. Unfortunately, HFC’s, the product designated as a suitable alternative coolant, has a warming potential of hundreds, even thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide. What’s worrying about these substances, is that as the greenhouse effect heats up the world, demand for air conditioners will rise. If the world doesn’t change the technology used to cool ourselves, we are in danger of cooking the planet and creating a vicious cycle.

Created in 2016, the Kigali Amendment addressed the climate impact of chemicals used in fridges and air conditioners. It aims to set a phasedown path for HFCs and is estimated that it will prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius in global warming above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. As of last month, 22 countries had ratified the agreement and so it will come into force on January 1st 2019. However, universal ratification by all countries is needed for the impact to be felt around the world.

A key part of the agreement is a fund to assist in financing the transition in poorer countries to help them catch up with the latest technology. Developing countries will receive $540 million to speed up the phase out in the places that need it most and where the greatest benefit to the global climate can be delivered.

Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna said: “The Montreal Protocol is an example of how we can come together, that we can do what naysayers think is impossible, that we can heal our planet.”

During the meeting, the countries requested the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol evaluate the options for enhancing energy efficiency of appliances and equipment in the refrigeration and air-conditioning industry while phasing down HFCs under the Kigali Amendment.

They also requested regular updates on the safety standards relevant to the use of flammable low-global warming potential alternatives to HFCs. This is crucial for ensuring the safe market introduction, manufacturing, operation, maintenance and handling of low GWP refrigerants that are used in many sectors.

The Kigali deal establishes a clear HFC phase-down schedule. The HVAC&R sector must now deliver the technology solutions – including natural refrigerant-based equipment – that will help achieve the Kigali targets. For now, contractors can continue their installation and maintenance work as before but will need to make sure their technicians have the information they need to install new equipment safely while using alternative refrigerants.

Quick Facts

·         To date, the Montreal Protocol has phased out almost 100 of the most ozone-depleting substances; it reduced emissions equivalent to over 135 billion tons of carbon dioxide; and it continues to help the recovery of the hole in the Earth’s protective ozone layer.

·         Here is a list of countries that have ratified the amendment.

·         As the most successful international environmental agreement, the Montreal Protocol  has eliminated over 99 percent of substances that were thinning the Earth’s protective ozone layer.

·         Canada published new regulations that will reduce its annual consumption of hydrofluorocarbons by 85 percent, by 2036. HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases used in commercial, industrial, and residential applications such as refrigeration, air-conditioning, foam insulation, and aerosols.

FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the HVACR world.  Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter  for all the latest news.

 

 

 

 

 

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2018 HVAC Regulations You Need to Know About

 

As 2017 comes to a close, it is important to look ahead at what new regulations await HVAC contractors in 2018. In just a few weeks, HVAC companies will face the second round of limitations for HVAC refrigerants, as well as the ‘rooftop units’ regulation. Here’s what you need to know about 2018 HVAC regulations:

Second stage of refrigerant use limitations

As of Jan. 1, 2018, technicians of refrigeration equipment will need to comply with the next set of limitations in their use of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs). Any technician wanting to sell or work with refrigerants classified as ODS or their substitutes (such as HFC’s) will need to pass a certification exam allowing them to handle these substances. Once certified, they will need to keep a copy of their certification for up to three years after it expires. Technicians will also need to keep records of all disposals of equipment with five or more pounds of refrigerant with specifics on location, date, quantity, and other important details on transfers.

New efficiency standards for rooftop units

In less than a month, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) new compliance guidelines, described as the “largest energy-saving standard in history,” will officially affect the commercial heating and cooling industry. The rooftop air conditioner standards — which covers new units found on low-rise buildings, like hospitals, schools, and big-box stores — will take effect in two phases, increasing minimum efficiency by about 10 percent as of Jan. 1, 2018, and by 25-30 percent as of Jan. 1, 2023. Standards for new warm-air furnaces that are typically installed in conjunction with commercial air conditioners also become effective in 2023.

For HVAC technicians and contractors, this means learning to work with new and different types of equipment and refrigerants, as well as preparing to install new equipment or retrofit old equipment in order to bring it up to new standards.

 

With so many changes to equipment, refrigerants, and regulations, it is imperative to have a system to help keep track of everything. FIELDBOSS contractor management software can help you track leaks and report refrigerant use and disposals including date and time of service, location, quantity, work area assessment, job hazard assessment, personal protection, and safety environmental issues for each of your service activities and requests.

Contact FIELBDOSS today for a free demo and find out how FIELDBOSS can help your company stay compliant.

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