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The contribution of CMMS for heating companies

The contribution of CMMS for heating companies

Sunday 12 april 2020

An essential component of our well-being, central heating did not appear until the middle of the 19th century. This major technological innovation has had a considerable impact on the design of the buildings in which we live and work and on the comfort we enjoy every day. 

> Why a CMMS for building maintenance?

A central heating installation requires a high level of professional maintenance. This is provided worldwide by hundreds of thousands of specialist service and maintenance companies. 

Their mission of maintaining in operational conditions is greatly facilitated by the use of CMMS software capable of supporting managers and technicians in their daily tasks and helping them to control and adjust increasingly sophisticated and connected equipment. Throughout the maintenance process, CMMS will thus enable them to identify equipment, describe installations, plan recurrent maintenance, manage troubleshooting, keep event histories, apply best practices, share knowledge, supply spare parts, and communicate with customers.

The heating engineer's job as part of HVAC engineering

HVAC engineering covers all activities related to thermal comfort, including heating, air conditioning, ventilation, air treatment, refrigeration and fluid management, and the production of domestic hot water, often abbreviated to DHW. The heating engineer is more particularly in charge of central heating and the production of DHW and if we spend the winter in the warmth regardless of the outside conditions and we can take a hot shower all year round, it is thanks to him. 

This profession is evolving rapidly: it is no longer limited to the well-being and comfort of the consumer, but is also committed to optimising and reducing energy consumption and expenditure. Builders and heating engineers have understood this and now offer sustainable products and services that are able to meet these new challenges and comply with current regulations. The HVAC engineering professions are constantly evolving, with the aim of perfecting the techniques specific to their professions. Here again, CMMS will prove to be a valuable ally not only by improving the regular maintenance and adjustment of installations, which will reduce their consumption, but also by monitoring consumption by regularly recording measurements, verifying the achievement of defined objectives and comparing buildings of the same category.

Central heating makes its revolution in the 19th century

The beginnings of central heating date back to the hypocaust, the first known underfloor heating process. Taken up and generalised by Roman architects from a Greek invention, it was essentially used for thermal baths. The oldest known site, dating from around 100 BC, was discovered in Olympia. A hearth maintained outside the building heated air, which was diffused under the raised floor by low walls in the rooms to be heated. This method, forgotten and then rediscovered or reinvented during the 18th century, was then occasionally used to heat greenhouses and public buildings. Because of the fire hazard it represented, it did not become widespread.

The principle of heating can then simply be summed up as the need to replace each stove that is placed in the rooms to be heated in a building, and which therefore requires a complex individual supply, by a single centralised installation associated with a network for the diffusion of the heat produced. 

Although this was suggested as early as the beginning of the 17th century by John Evelyn, it was not until the very end of the 18th century that the first experimental systems appeared. They will successively use the circulation of hot air, water vapor but it is finally mostly hot water that will become widespread.

And it is in the middle of the 19th century, thanks to the emergence of innovative technologies associated with the industrial revolution, that the technical difficulties will finally be overcome making central heating systems accessible to the architect, the engineer and the general public. From that time onwards, many architectures such as public buildings, theatres, hotels, hospitals, prisons, exhibition halls and greenhouses were equipped with them.

This is the case of the Palace of Westminster, seat of the English Parliament in London, a particularly innovative building behind its neo-gothic facades. The Scottish engineer David Boswell Reid implemented a sophisticated network of air extraction, heating, circulation and extraction using steam fans to heat the entire building. Big Ben will be the main source of outside air for the building.

The tasks of a heating company

The heating engineer is required to install and maintain heating and hot water systems. As a craftsman, he must have an expert eye on all the products and services he offers while keeping up to date with changes in regulations and compliance constraints.

The main missions of a heating engineer consist of :

  • Install a heating system: he carries out the installation of the boiler and the distribution network. He makes the necessary connections and makes sure that everything works properly.
  • Troubleshooting installations: he intervenes both at private homes and on multi-family residential buildings, tertiary buildings or on industrial sites. This is most often an emergency, as the installation must be restarted as quickly as possible to meet the customer's needs.
  • Carry out regular maintenance of the installations: it checks all the sensitive elements and parts subject to breakdowns, wear parts, reads the flow and arrival temperatures of fluids, measures consumption, detects and repairs anomalies preventively, notes the parts that need to be replaced to avoid breakdowns or accidents.

To excel in his job, the heating technician must be experienced and rigorous. He is essentially mobile, moving from one site to another to visit the installations for which he is responsible. In the course of a single day, depending on the geographical area in which he works and if he is equipped with an efficient mobile CMMS application, he may be required to carry out up to 8 to 10 maintenance or troubleshooting operations. 

The heating technician must also be fully familiar with safety instructions, environmental standards and current regulations. He knows how to take into account the dangerousness of the installations and the associated risks (gas leaks, fires, etc.) to guarantee his own safety and that of consumers. The CMMS will also provide valuable assistance in these aspects by being his assistant: reference documentation, reminder of safety instructions, detailed list of tasks to be carried out, all these functions will prove indispensable throughout his working day. The mobile CMMS application will of course accompany the technician everywhere and remain accessible off-line inside a boiler room.

The indispensable help of a modern CMMS

CMMS integrates perfectly at all these stages. Indeed, it will provide heating engineers with a multifunctional solution that improves planning, management of administrative documents, inter-team communication and the quality of interventions within their company.

Planning

Without optimal planning, it's hard to move forward. Thanks to CMMS, manage your teams efficiently by adding interventions and appointments from your online interface. Each user concerned will be informed in real time of the changes made. Are you in the field? Access your schedule from your mobile phone, you will receive a notification to warn you of a change in your schedule.

The cartography allows you to visualize all the interventions to be carried out during the day or for a given period. It will thus be easier for you to plan and optimize your trips and thus reduce travel costs while saving time. To get to a site by the shortest route taking into account the traffic, the technician launches Waze or Maps directly from his application. No need to retype the address.

Installation

Any renovation or new installation operation will require the preparation and transmission of an estimate to the customer to enable the study and receive his agreement. 

No more paper documents and lost files! With CMMS, you can save your estimate models, manage your works, duplicate a pre-existing estimate, and so many possibilities at your disposal that will save you a considerable amount of time. The estimate is sent by e-mail and its reception status is automatically updated: distributed, open is notified to you, guaranteeing that your customer is fully aware of your offer.

Once accepted by the customer, the offers will be transformed into active building sites and you will be able to manage supplier orders, plan and transmit the building site orders to the technicians. Finally, as soon as the installation is complete, the application will send the associated invoices directly to the customers by email. 

Troubleshooting

A breakdown service always comes in the way of an already busy day. It is therefore necessary to deal with this emergency by assigning the repair to the person closest to the place of intervention and most capable of intervening. Thanks to the flexibility of the latest CMMS, you can easily adapt to any new constraint. In addition, equipment referencing will allow technicians to check, in the event of a breakdown, all the information needed to carry out this new unforeseen intervention: safety instructions, need for special tools, technical manuals, plans, detailed description, digital maintenance log, event history, etc. Don't forget: a well-managed breakdown is a satisfied customer and therefore an added value for your company.

No more forgetting and going back and forth to the depot! The referencing of the equipment in the installed base will help you to keep your spare parts catalogue up to date and to define which equipment you need to take with you depending on the type of heater to be repaired, its brand and the year it was put into service. You can also manage your stock automatically, having stock per vehicle or per customer at your disposal as you wish.

On site, once the intervention is completed, the technician can write a report from his mobile phone, add photos, enter the equipment used and get the customer to sign for it. The time of the intervention is automatically recorded and the manager is instantly informed of the completion of the intervention. All information is automatically recorded online and easily traceable. In this way, you avoid any loss of information and ensure permanent monitoring of your activity.

Maintenance

Better safe than sorry! Preventive maintenance is essential for boiler maintenance to reduce the probability of failure or breakdown. It is therefore necessary to carry out regular cleaning, control and measurement actions on your customers' machine components. Create maintenance ranges and group preventive interventions by daily to multi-annual periodicity. You will have an overview of all your current and future tasks while keeping track of the operations carried out. You manage your maintenance plans while respecting the deadlines for mandatory and regulatory checks, as well as your contractual commitments.

📰Read also: Discover Yuman CMMS in detail

Customer follow-up and communication

Over the years, heating engineers have put their know-how at the service of all their customers and are committed to forging an excellent brand image in order to stand out from a competitor that is constantly growing. To achieve this, nothing is better than to care for and maintain good relations with customers in the short and long term. CMMS will make your task easier by associating on its interface the requesters with the maintenance work associated with them. You can thus create a customer account allowing them to consult information on past and future interventions concerning them as well as all the documents you have exchanged. The information is stored online and available at any time.

You can also choose to activate automatic notifications that they will receive by email or SMS to let them know that your team has arrived and to keep them informed of the smooth running of the missions. With this access to an online platform, a bond of trust will be established, your customers will be more involved in your interventions and the exchange of documents will be centralized, faster and more secure.

Conclusion

CMMS supports the heating company in all these intervention processes. This assistance will allow you to save a considerable amount of time by optimizing and facilitating your operations, by automating the generation and transmission of your documents: estimates, invoices, work orders, purchase orders, etc. Faster, more flexible, you will then be able to provide a better quality service while considerably reducing your workload and thus gain in competitiveness.

By the way, our ambition is to offer an unparalleled user experience. Check it out immediately: try CMMS for free. Within 2 minutes, the time it takes to create your account, you will discover the latest in this category of software.

You can also benefit from a demonstration led by one of our consultants: book a videoconference

Good discovery and see you soon!

 

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