While the Internet of Things isn’t popular within HVAC circles yet, it will soon be the only thing anyone’s talking about.
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a network of devices that communicate with one another. If the regular Internet is the “Internet of Content,” the IoT is the infrastructure that gives items the online capability to “talk” to each other.
For HVAC contractors, the IoT will change everything. Predictive maintenance — the gold standard in equipment care — will become the customer expectation. When that happens, the age-old routines of preventive and reactionary maintenance will no longer be good enough.
The Power of Predictive Maintenance
The benefits of utilizing predictive maintenance in HVAC systems should be viewed in light of the larger, secular growth of connected devices. In fact, smart devices will boost the three E’s for contractors: economy, environment, and empowerment.
The U.S. Department of Energy cites predictive maintenance eliminates equipment failures and reduces the costs of parts and labor. Commercial facilities that have switched to predictive maintenance save about $1 per square foot annually compared to those that don’t.
Optimizing equipment operation in buildings and plants allows business owners to save 20 percent of their total energy budgets without any significant initial capital expenditures. Smart devices and diagnostics empower HVAC technicians by locating problems faster, notifying them about which parts to keep on hand and assessing system readiness after repairs and installations.
HVAC technicians’ ability to provide unbiased, data-driven diagnostics and solutions is critical to their success — smart devices provide that added layer of credibility.
Predicting the Future
Some technicians avoid predictive maintenance systems because part of their revenue depends on solving issues on-site. Historically, the cost of implementing advanced solutions has been expensive.
Additionally, the background knowledge required to select suitable, continuous monitoring solutions can be challenging. Devoting the time and resources necessary to develop data-driven diagnostics can be a distraction from core business activities.
But diagnostics as service solutions remove that complexity. New technologies solve these problems by combining portable diagnostic tools with smartphones — something most technicians already have.
Before implementing predictive maintenance into your business, you need management buy-in and a company-wide commitment. Ask yourself three questions:
1. What new services and new sources of revenue will predictive maintenance provide? Think about generating new warranty business and pull-through revenue via added logistics and maintenance work.
2. How will having predictive maintenance solutions influence customer behavior? Some customers are more data-driven than others. How will they respond to new, more detailed information? How will having an unbiased report affect your ability to sell?
3. Is your organization capable of implementing the technology? What changes do you need to make before your organization is sophisticated enough to deliver a predictive maintenance solution?
No new business strategy is perfect, but incorporating smart devices into your company can provide immense benefits as your business grows. As data-driven diagnostics solutions become more widespread, customers will not be satisfied with emergency repairs after the fact.
Saar Yoskovitz is the CEO and co-founder of Augury, an Israel and New York-based company that is bringing predictive maintenance technology to new markets. Augury is a mobile-based solution that diagnoses and predicts machine performance using vibration and ultrasonic sensors paired with machine learning algorithms.