The Emerging Role of Analytics in HVAC Maintenance

The Emerging Role of Analytics in HVAC Maintenance

What’s the best way for an HVAC contractor to create long-term business relationships? Start with a great sale but follow it up with even better service. This is the goal of preventative maintenance, a 75-year-old technique designed to curb existing problems and preemptively tackle emerging issues with HVAC units.

For contractors, the big benefits came in the form of lucrative maintenance agreements and customer loyalty but now there’s a shift in the market: Residential and commercial HVAC owners see the benefit of smartphone-enabled apps and other technology and start to wonder why HVAC can’t keep up. As noted by Contracting Business there’s progress on the horizon thanks to new industry development: Analytics maintenance.

Beyond the Backbone

There’s nothing wrong with solid preventative maintenance backed by best-in-class detection and cleaning tools. But in a marketspace now awash with startups and innovators, it’s no longer possible to get by on “good enough”—contractors need something to help them stand out from the crowd.

The first step away from a prevention-focused approach? Predictive maintenance. Instead of simply collecting data during regular maintenance checks, predictive systems constantly record HVAC data, then alert contractors and owners to any potential problems. According to ACHR, recent Department of Energy studies show that moving from purely preventative to partially predictive models can provide savings between 8 and 12 percent while predictive maintenance may reduce maintenance costs by up to 30 percent. The problem? Many predictive systems are designed for large-scale commercial ventures and are too expensive for smaller contractors to own, install, or maintain.

The Analytics Alternative

Instead of spending big on tools like vibration sensors and the training necessary to effectively use these predictive tools, smaller HVAC companies may be better served by an analytics-focused approach. In this maintenance model, lightweight programs and applications are installed on HVAC control modules which constantly record mechanical data. Critical information is collected at each maintenance visit and includes not only diagnostic measurements but also efficiency and performance trends which impact ROI—all in language that’s easily understandable to techs and laymen alike.

Simply put, analytics removes most of the guesswork from HVAC maintenance and instead makes it possible for techs to suggest corrective action which will reduce overall unit spend and increase total ROI. Bottom line? Analytics can’t solve every HVAC issue, but it’s the next logical step from existing preventative maintenance contracts.

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