Review - March 2001
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The Wireless Revolution at AHR Expo 2001.
Revolutionary products linking us via wireless devices.

Ken Sinclair takes a look at 
the Wireless Revolution

Although my time on the exhibit floor was limited I did manage to get to see AUTOMATED LOGIC's DEMO of WIRELESS WEBCTRL™

The access to WebCTRL™ was demonstrated on a wide range of wireless appliances including web-enabled cell phones, pagers and web pads. The included picture of these WAP enable devices has been provided by Automated Logic. Although the panoramic view of and the easy of click and point that we have come to expected from full browser based systems is extremely restricted with these wireless devices, when they are put in the hands of skilled operators with good system knowledge they can provide quick wireless access to the majority of system information.  Thanks to Automated Logic for the use of their wireless artwork.

I also found time to attend an extremely interesting FieldCentrix™ press release that did more to confirm the future of wireless in our industry. A revolutionary product linking technicians in the field service industry with the office via wireless communications and rugged, handheld computers.

contemporary FieldCentrix™ automates the costly, time-consuming, and paper-intensive processes associated with field service. These processes include communicating with headquarters, receiving work assignments, completing work orders, submitting billing information to accounting, and even ordering parts. With FieldCentrix Enterprise, field service companies can increase a technician's productivity, heighten customer satisfaction, reduce operation costs, and — most importantly — improve profitability.

"At $195 a month, per tech, FX Central gives my company an affordable way to leverage the benefits of FieldCentrix software without installing expensive computer servers and employing a staff to keep it operational. FX Central manages the technology so I can manage my business," said John Klopp, president of Pacific Mechanical Service, a California-based company specializing in commercial air conditioning service.

The rental model follows the software industry's shift toward allowing customers to subscribe to software as a service, rather than purchasing it as a capital investment. Similar to how a utility company supplies electrical or gas service to its customers, FX Central manages the computing infrastructure and software for the customer, making sure the application is always available, secure, and operating at optimum performance.

The Wireless Service Revolution, a Pacific Mechanical advantage.  Field service technicians carry rugged handheld computers wirelessly connected to the internet.  The computer is down-loaded with maintenance check lists for each unit to be worked on. This allows the technician to diagnose problems and record equipment readings and complete tasks quickly and easily by checking items from a list on the screen. All equipment history and readings are available to the technician in the field without even calling the office. 

This wireless service revolution is bound to find synergy with the rapid advances in wireless Automated Buildings allowing service supertechs to guide building maintenance runners through the diagnostics of complex system problems through the complete deployment of wireless interfaces. I asked the question at the press release if interfacing with net ready Building Automation was a part of the wireless deployment plan and I was assured as the technology is employed it will be used.

The Notifact™ monitoring system, with coverage throughout North America, is designed to monitor the operation of virtually any electro-mechanical device, from rooftop HVAC units to oil well pumps. The two main components of the Notifact™ monitoring system are the wireless transmitter and the Notifact™ web site. The transmitter is mounted on or near the equipment being monitored. The secure website is used to configure equipment, alert messages, and define to whom and by what means messages are to be sent. Each message can be delivered via pager (alphanumeric or numeric), fax, e-mail, PCS or telephone (voice delivery). Alert messages will contain the specific alert condition which caused the transmission along with the location, make, model, and serial number of the equipment.

Notifact  demonstrated how plug and play partnerships with major names in the HVAC industry have increased the power and value of Notifact. The development of two-way communications will enable contractors and facility owners to change as well as monitor alarm parameters, set points on equipment, and request detailed diagnostic information.

Inovonics Corporation monitors temperatures from anywhere in a facility without running wires! Inovonics wireless temperature measurement system can be easily installed without drilling holes in walls, floors, or ceilings, making it a practical choice for retrofits, pre-fabricated concrete buildings, structures with glass atriums, and historic buildings. Additionally, Inovonics wireless transmitters can be easily relocated to accommodate open floor plans and for expansion of existing systems.

Inovonics' long-life, battery-powered transmitters include an integrated thermistor or terminal block for external temperature probes. Temperature data and the transmitter ID are transmitted to the receiver utilizing a frequency-hopping, spread-spectrum radio link. Duplication of the data and redundant broadcasting on multiple frequencies is how Inovonics RF technology provides a reliable communications link. Micro-cellular networks make it possible to implement Inovonics products in large facilities.

As you can see from the number of wireless product reviews and articles in our March issue the wireless revolution is here... now. Better decide what this new dimension means to you and your company and get on with the next big innovation in our industry.

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