Smart Glasses Looking Good for HVAC Shortage

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    By Tom Talbot

    1

    It’s a constant struggle in the trades finding and hiring skilled technicians. There’s a shortage of new technicians and many of the experienced technicians are on the verge of retiring. What’s the solution? Some forward-thinking companies are looking at new technology to help satisfy the demand for HVAC technicians.

    HVAC is Growing, Skilled Labor is Shrinking

    The bureau of Labor Statistics predicts growth of 14% in the HVAC field by 2024. The focus on education has been on 4-year degrees, not technical education. And there's an aging workforce in the trades. What are owners supposed to do? If you see your heating or air conditioning guy rocking a new pair of oversized glasses, it’s probably not because their sight changed. Smart glasses are the latest tool for HVAC techs. These new specs are part of the wearables market and serve two main purposes. Smart glasses help out HVAC technicians in the field and provide customer assurance of a job done well.

    Technicians See The Light

    Smart glasses are used on calls as a collaboration tool. When a junior tech has some questions on a job they can place a call to the office and ask for help. An experienced tech back at the office or “triage” can can see exactly what the tech sees in real time on the office laptop and offer an experienced hand. The smart glasses allow video, audio or high-def photos. These new specs act as a virtual assistant and allow HVAC techs to learn as they go. 

    Lee Company, is one of the first HVAC companies to roll out the new strategy. They purchased 500 pairs of Vuzix M100 glasses made in Rochester NY. This particular model is very durable and designed for the trades. But the glasses are only part of the system. Lee then partnered with XOEye software applications and connect to Vision, it’s cloud based platform. Check out this video showing a Lee Company tech and supervisor in action.

    Customers Have More Visibility

    On a customary service call the customer has to trust the technician. If they say you need something, then you assume you need it. With the smart glasses, the customer can now see first hand what the problem is and why it needs to be fixed. The tech can create a video to show the customer what the problem is and then show how they fixed it. This information not only helps the business relationship but the videos, photos, etc. can be stored in the cloud and used again and again for reference, website content, promotion, marketing, the possibilities are endless.

    Extending Careers

    Smart glasses aren’t meant to put people out of a job. On the contrary they are being used as a solution to the incredibly high demand for HVAC technicians. It also can keep older more skilled technicians in the field with an office job. HVAC work is tough on the body. Like construction or any of the other trades, physical work takes a toll. If a senior technician can take a seat at a desk in his later years and act as a supervisor to new HVAC techs it’s a win for everybody. Instead of retiring all that knowledge and experience is put to good use. Plus there’s no more climbing into attics and crawl spaces.

    Which Pair Makes Me Look Smart?

    I guess that depends on what features you need. Do you want a full framed design or compact? What type of accessories do you need? Which will last the longest? Do they need to be strong enough to last in the field? Google Glass were the first pair of goggles to the party but there have been many more since. 

    Smart glasses can be a game changer if your HVAC business is struggling. Yes, the initial investment can be pricey but the efficiencies you see are immediate. In the long run, I think many businesses will see the light.

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