We Should All Expect More From Our Technology
Being Effective and Making Life Easier
In search of myths
The world expects a lot from all of us and there’s too many problems in your work life to take them all on one at a time, by yourself. Technology has always been sold as making our lives easier, but it really it just makes the tasks easier. The truth is that technology can make our lives more complicated. Technology shifts where we spend time and what we most software is “freeware” with ads, we are forced to use or whatever the lowest bidder sells us, and the excitement of getting access to something that will help raise us above the mundane is quickly dashed.
Software fatigue can overwhelm the decision-making process, because too often the brilliance of the sale has outshined the delivery of the product. Every operations, management, and purchasing team seeks the best way to sort out the good from the bad and avoid the tedious effort required to get things up and running. The challenge can lead to paralysis and force some to retreat to using spread sheets, notebooks and building a patchwork of solutions that come close but take more effort and often rely on the goodwill of a few to hold the process together.
In the HVAC Industry service companies have one software package for account, some have another to track work, then they might have to work with their clients work order system. However, it doesn’t end there. There are EAMs, ERMs, EMS, CRMs, iOT, EMS2 and OMG- it never ends.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch
Technology marches on and the best sign of hope came from something we all take for granted in our personal lives, but it has failed to latch on (yet) in our professional lives. The development of the app. An icon on our phone represents a tool, a resource, often free of charge, that can tell us the weather, give us directions, or find our favorite playlist. The argument was made early on that apps were not safe, secure, or robust enough to be used in large commercial work environments. Some apps have made the leap to success in the commercial world, such as Slack, zoom, Google apps and LinkedIn.
Apps are spreading into every aspect of the HVAC Industry as well. Workflow apps help manage the dialogue between service teams and their clients, but in some cases the costs are shared between the parties. So, the clients buys the app, then only pays 25-30% of the cost and pushes the remaining 70-75% onto their vendors. This model has provided some huge wins for work flow companies, but caused further challenges for their HVAC/R service providers. The service providers are now left with the extra task of entering the work into a new work tool, which does not connect to their invoice system and they also have to pay a fee to work with the client.
Waiting for Godot.
So your company bought 3 of the alphabet soup options that they needed; ERM, EAM and CMMS. You were trained and provided your input. While behind the scenes, a small group of advisors, consultants and specialists quietly draft, modify, and craft the purchased solutions into a shape that will work according to plan. A plan that is based on a set of criteria developed 2 years ago during a series of meetings held to scope the needs.
By now you are becoming accustomed to the evolving HVAC/R regulations at the state level, you are familiar with refrigerant regulations, however you might not have noticed the regulations that effect maintenance, leak rates and asset designation or what about the conflicts between state and federal definitions or requirements that have emerged over the past 2 years?
Policies once set in Washington DC are now being cultivated in states like Colorado, California, Washington, Maryland and more. The big data system you bought can probably be upgraded to accommodate, but the rapid evolution of regulations that are deploying to support gaps left by a retreating federal structure, come at a huge cost and they take time. Federal regulations take years to evolve, state regulations move much faster. By the time you scope the needs, the regulations have changed again…
Ironically in the time it takes big data to update and accommodate the reg from 2 years ago, SAAS companies like Trakref are evolving in a nimbler focused environment and our product will have been in the market for 18 months.
Additionally, it’s important to note that as large as these Big data products are, they usually are limited in their external accessibility, making the products difficult to work together. Smaller app-based companies are designed to link using an API, (application protocol interface) a digital solution that reduces keystrokes and shares data seamlessly between products.
There is no finish line. It’s a continuous process of improvement.
Apps like Trakref are very focused. We solve a specific problem, and we use our focus to keep costs low and deliver an easy to operate system. SaaS which stands for Software–as–a-Service is a concept in which you rent everything. The SaaS model is ideally suited to deliver a solution to accommodate the challenges presented by an active, fluid and dynamic non centralized set of compliance requirements that impact multi location property managers and owners differently based on where the property is located.
The process of meeting regulatory needs in many places is isolating and hard to achieve, because most companies rely on something called “Matter Management ” to guide their policy development and then monitor the little things as they pop up, which makes it extremely reactive.
actionable insignts (ai)
At Trakref (ai) is actionable insights and that’s what we strive to provide. Years ago the buzz was about data and the more data the better, but as we collected lakes and rivers full of data, for clients, we recognized that there was too much data, in the wrong shape, or mis understood and then the data sat in file somewhere collecting digital dust. Well, this digital dust was also full of great information and insights, so we now call it smart dust and this smart dust makes up the foundation of millions of service events on hundreds of thousands of pieces of equipment. Performed by tens of thousands of people over years and across every region. At Trakref, we see it impacting everything from safety to compliance to productivity. Although AI stands for artificial intelligence and we respect that, here at Trakref our goal is to focus on actionable insights (ai) that we use for you to accomplish 3 things
- Reduce keystrokes so you are doing less work to capture the same information.
- Use the data collected to guide you to success. We don’t expect you to be a compliance expert, that’s our job, so we never make you guess which is the right path or answer, Trakref is a rules engine that you can reliably count on to shed on light on activity and be a resource that can supplement your team.
- Constant improvement from crowd sourced data. Trakref is not a team of 20, but instead a collective of more than 30,000 people all working on the same set of tasks, from different perspectives and we all learn from each other and the best results make their way into Trakref. No need for you to think of every great idea, some peer, somewhere is also experiencing the same thing, so we are committed to learning from each other.
For most of you, HVAC/R compliance is not the most exciting topic and we get that software fatigue is a real thing, but at Trakref we are a team of “refrigerant geeks” passionately looking at every aspect and priding ourselves on terrific support. All the refrigerant geeks at Trakref rely on something we call (Bang) to remain focused:
Discover how Trakref can help you bring together allies across departments & disciplines, industries & organizations, and countries & cultures. Our motto is to engage everyone, reduce duplication, and make sure data is entered in a fresh and timely manner.
At Trakref, we merge the concepts and needs from industry best practices, standards, protocols, regulations, and even specific corporate governance into a rules guidance process that ensures service staff activities and results are harmonized whether they are in Boston, Budapest, Beijing or Bogota.
(N)ew Model of Solution
Trakref is a multi-discipline software tool with unique solutions built for your entire supply and support team. We align our subscription model to this concept as well. Every subscription has an unlimited number of users that can access the portal in a managed and appropriate role.
At Trakref, our skills and experience ensure we have the certainty to solve complex compliance problems without friction or complication because we turn tangible results from market activity into specific requirements that align service activity with needs.
Why do we do it?
Why put all this energy and effort into managing refrigerants (F-gasses)? Because all the spreadsheets, big data systems, and alphabet soup solutions have done nothing to curb the leak rate or slow emissions. Today, 25 years after the Montreal Protocol, the leak rate is unchanged, and we still leak 100% of all refrigerants and F-gasses produced. Left in the right place and managed properly refrigerants are needed and useful – but that has not happened yet. The financial impact is greater than $12BN dollars in loss yearly (and that does not include lost productivity or impacts to energy), so if we look at the full impact, its more like $36 Billion and then let’s not add in carbon, because at $75 ton that in the trillions.
What’s Trending at Trakref
We remain focused on simplicity, remaining affordable, and driving innovation with a passion to reduce leaks and end waste. Check out the link below for the recent trends at Trakref!
HVAC/R are the most critical costly and complex asset in our work environment, we rely on them to protect our data, safeguard our food & health and ensure we are always comfortable. You need to rely on a solution that is easy to use, fast to set up, works 24/7/365 to protect you, is affordable and does not require expensive consultants to maintain.
Software alone will not solve the compliance challenge, but software that has amazing support, where every call is answered within an hour, and backed by a team of seasoned experts that have been in the industry for decades- that’s the magic that is the foundation for 25 years of 100% compliance.
Written by Ted Atwood Ted is the President & CEO of Trakref, a cloud-based HVAC/R and refrigerant management software company that provides unprecedented solutions for commercial properties. He has spent more than 20 years in the HVAC/R industry, even owning and operating one of the nation’s largest refrigerant reclaim and recycling companies.