Is Scheduled PM's (The Holy Grail of an HVACR Business) a Thing of the Past?

Posted Tuesday, 15 March 2016 15:59 by Martin King in HVAC Business

Why Do HVACR Contractors Sell PM's?

Ask any HVACR contractor, who is forward thinking enough to build value in their business, they will tell you that selling preventive maintenance agreements (PM's)  ads the most value to their business over time. Many will even hire dedicated sales people focusing much or all of their efforts on selling PM's. 

How PM's Are Performed Now

Currently most PM services are based on a calendar schedule. Depending on the type of equipment and application, PM's are performed from an annual basis (rare) to monthly for Mission Critical applications. For example, in the case of a Legacy process chiller, we recommend a quarterly PM service to maintain optimum efficiency, reliability and most importantly, to identify wearing mechanical items that should be replaced before they fail. 

As an HVACR contractors PM base grows, a typical contractor invests more in people, systems and software to keep track of a growing the PM base.  

The Challenge With Calendar Based PM Services

Over the next decade, the national shortage of qualified HVACR technicians is expected to intensify. Based on a 2014 study, the average age of a journeymen service technician is 35-45 years depending on the market. With market requirements expanding, and less HVACR technicians entering the field, it is expected that getting work done will be a continually growing challenge.

What does that mean to PM agreement holders? Read more to find out.

 

Well, during peek summer months, the typical HVACR contractor is getting stretched VERY thin. As the backlog of emergency repair calls stack up in the summer months, PM schedules will get pushed out. When this happens, owners of PM agreements end up having some tough love conversations with their contractor as to why machines are breaking down. PM agreements holders will inevitability say something like "I own a PM agreement to prevent this very thing from happening,"  and so on. If you are a building owner or facilities manager, its time to have a preemptive conversation with your HVACR contractor, and perhaps jointly look into the future.

A New Direction For USA Refrigeration Equipment Manufactures

Over the last two decades, manufactures of refrigeration equipment have done a decent job at addressing both government mandated as well as market demands for energy smart solutions.  To get this important job done, we have deployed technologies such as programmable logic controllers (PLC) that, although falling short of Moore's law, are much more powerful and less expensive than just a few years ago. As the labor shortage continues, and will most likely escalate, manufactures will be compelled to make machines that are not only more efficient, but are equipped to help the HVACR contractor deal with his labor shortage. Lets face it, if you limit the HVACR service providers ability to maintain and service equipment, the brand will fail.  It is my view that dispatching a technician to perform maintenance based on the calendar will be a thing of the past.  

Get Ready For the Game Changers

Game changing technologies are all around us. Take a close look at what Netflix, Uber and AirBnb have done to their respective industries. Some really smart people jumped on a need, taking advantage of new technology to solve it.

What if the next generation HVACR service company no longer provided maintenance services based on a calendar? What if mechanical equipment could contact the service provider or end user when it needs maintenance? What if mechanical equipment's on board PLC's could monitor trending information, interpret normal from abnormal, communicate the issue prior to a breakdown, and provide guidance on potential corrections while the technician is inbound? Lastly, and my personal favorite, what if a service technician, with no experience, responding to a call on a machine can quickly fix it without dragging a laptop running proprietary software (sometimes in the rain) onto the roof? 

Its my humble view that game changing technology is on the way, so get ready :-)

Legacy Chiller Systems has invested heavily in game changing process chiller technology for over a decade. In Q2, 2016 Legacy begins production on our a new line of chillers featuring our Nexus Technology