Meet Trakref V3 – A HVAC/R Rules Engine for Guiding Today’s Workforce

September 20, 2017 / by Ted Atwood

Ted Atwood

When you look at the state of the HVAC/R industry today, it’s complex and fast-changing for a stakeholder like you, whether you’re an equipment owner, a property manager, a HVAC technician, or a facility manager... 

Maintenance costs on equipment are skyrocketing; the prices of popular refrigerant are rising; and service invoices are increasing. On top of that, there are related costs like energy or environmental impact that most of us have trouble measuring, controlling, or even understanding.

To control costs, to remain in budget, to be compliant. All of this can get a little overwhelming, causing lapses in critical areas. And these lapses take their toll overtime. Just let the numbers on refrigerant venting speak for themselves…

Lack of Oversight Encourages Bad Behavior (Like Illegal Refrigerant Venting)—And at What Cost?

Think about this: In the US, almost 500 million pounds of refrigerant leak every year.

This isn’t an anomaly either. Since 1990, we estimate that nearly 8 billion pounds of fluorocarbon refrigerant have been vented into our atmosphere in the United States.

At what cost has this occurred?

What about in your own operations? What effect has it had? Are these refrigerant substances driving your costs up, and for what reason(s)?

These are the type of questions we have set out to answer for our customers because the industry is undergoing a major shift, due to internationally-supported phase outs and new compliance obligations at the local, state, and federal levels.

The “Cold and Cheap” Mentality Just Isn’t Good Enough Anymore

Really, for decades, two factors had reigned HVAC/R decisions: (1) just keep it cold, and (2) make sure it’s cheap. But those days are on the way out.

Just look at the experience of service providers nowadays. Besides the added demands of more work and the same number of people doing it, service providers must learn new technologies in their free time on weekends and then accommodate changes to multi-level regulations (which change regularly, by the way). Couple this with the consideration that most system breakdowns seem to be reported after hours and on the weekends.

To further complicate the picture, keep in mind that the EPA requires the system owner (not the technician) to report, record, and manage their systems (the technicians work for you and are not responsible).

People needed a tool that guided them through this changing world. So, we responded. 

Our Customers Asked Us — A Growing Need for a HVAC/R Rules Engine

As you may already know, in 2013, we launched a refrigerant compliance, ledger software system that was backed up by our patented material tracking capabilities, and it has been a riveting success.

But, clients kept asking us for a software system that would guide them and their workforce and enable them to deploy a set of industry best practices that would empower them to make great decisions.

So, we turned to our client group and began assembling their best practices, and we started to build a rules engine internally to guide outcomes. At first, we did this manually, and then we started to build a new refrigerant compliance software system around these processes. One that was more about guidance and turning the data we were collecting into actionable insights that can guide and report on behavior.  

We launch V3 today as a system of guidance that solves many of the pressing problems the industry is facing today, and we also start the process of solving many others.

We have combined best practices along with regulatory requirements and are deploying a rules engine that will provide alerts, guidance, and insights; Essentially, a tool to manage and control behavior, leading to better outcomes.

A System of Guidance for Today’s Workforce

While it’s still important for HVAC units to be cold and cheap, we live in a different world now, and, as a result, we know that these are not the only costs to consider when servicing these units.

In fact, we need a system that collects data about vital stats, settings, activity, energy, warranty needs, maintenance, leak rates, and weather. But even that is not enough.

Thus, we are partnering with companies that provide energy metering and utility billing to link energy to maintenance spend, so we can complete your building's ecosystem awareness. We intend to remain hyper-specialized on HVAC/R but expand into other related connectivity, such as water and energy systems (e.g., generators, solar and wind that power them).  

Furthermore, we use a scientific approach to learning. We realize that assets need to be well-known and that is challenged by the fact that paper asset name plates wear out from sun and weather. So, we developed our own tagging and labelling solution.

We also enabled trakref with an equipment learning system that allows you to index performance across similar types and therefore build intelligent benchmarks for your property(s). We made this investment, so you will eventually be able to compare performance, energy, and activity results between your various HVAC/R service providers and your associated energy spend.  

A Smarter Software System Leads to Better Behavior and Outcomes

Ultimately, when you log in to trakref today, you are joining a smarter system that (1) guides your workforce to be compliant and budget-minded, and (2) listens to your needs and concerns, as we continue to learn and grow here at Trakref.

Special thanks to all the service providers, clients, technologists, and people that have contributed to this process.

Together, we can drive down refrigerant leak rates, bring greater awareness to equipment maintenance, and reverse the trend in escalating costs to service these important but rather expensive appliances.

And while you are saving money and improving your bottom line, you will also be in compliance, knowing that you are making the right decisions for your equipment, your assets, your community, the world.

Download Our Guide  to Updates on Trakref V3

Topics: Announcements, HVAC/R, Compliance Reporting, HVAC/R Software, Industry Insights, Product Updates, Refrigerant Compliance, Refrigerant Management

Ted Atwood

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.