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cfm Tech Tips – SSE (Simplicity Smart Equipment) Control Boards

York Commercial Equipment is currently manufactured with Simplicity SE controls. These controls are dynamic and versatile. An SSE Control Board can be programmed (in the Factory or the Field) for use in a Constant Volume unit, Variable Volume unit, Single Zone VAV unit, Fixed Variable (also known as Intelli-Speed), Reheat Unit, Split System Condensing Unit or Heat Pump. The control board comes with a Joystick, Enter Button, Cancel Button and Display Screen to facilitate programming in the field without a computer. This Tech Tip will help familiarize you with the programming steps for SSE Control Boards.

Factory Programming & Default Settings

New units are pre-programmed at the factory with default settings to accommodate unit operation as built. Every RTU is built with 3 sensors – Supply Air, Return Air and Outdoor Air. As shipped – any RTU can operate stand alone with the on-board sensors, or can operate from thermostat inputs. This results in flexibility when changing out a unit. Say you need to operate the unit immediately after the changeout and intend to operate from a thermostat, but the thermostat cable needs replacing and you need the unit to operate while pulling new thermostat wire. Simply set the unit to run on sensor operation. It will operate from its Return Air sensor until you connect the thermostat. Communication (BacNet, N2, Modbus, etc) is also available for BAS operation.

The Unit Control Board

The Unit Control Board communicates with the Economizer via the SA Bus, thus all programming is done through the Unit Control Board, making economizer setup very simple.

To program from the front of the board, use the joystick to scroll down to the desired menu option. With the cursor (>) in front of the desired option, press the enter button. Use the joystick to scroll to the next required option and again hit enter. Once you get to the desired setting, move the joystick sideways to change information while the display is flashing. Hit enter to save the information. The attached points lists are divided into sections for ease of finding information and navigating the control to make changes.

Example: Details > Control > Econ > Setup > Econ-MinPos

This shows the pathway in to change the economizer minimum position setting.

programming options

Use the example scenario & programming guide below as a reference while replacing a Unit Control Board.

A control board needs to be replaced in an existing unit.

Option:
  1. Available if the board is powered and displaying information on the screen.(Best Option)
    1. Plug a flash drive into the USB Port on the front of the control board in the unit.
    2. Using the attached points list, navigate to Update > Backup, and hit Enter.
    3. The current setpoints will be saved to the Flash Drive.
    4. Install the new Control Board and power it up.
    5. After countdown is complete, insert the Flash Drive into the new Control Board.
    6. Navigate to Update > Restore, and hit Enter.
    7. The original settings will be uploaded to the new control including Model and Serial numbers.
  2. If a flash drive isn’t available when the control board is replaced.
    • Use the ‘Quick Points List’ making sure all points marked with an asterisk are set correctly for the unit.

Not every scenario can be listed in this article, but the method is the same for any programming requirement. Use these Additional Materials for ease of navigation.

Additional Materials:

Quick Points List – Partial list of program points, for use when replacing a board or commissioning a unit.

SSE Master Points List – Full list of program points, for use as needed.

Sensor and Fault information

SSECombo1HR.jpg

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Overhead Costs | HVAC Pricing Series Part 4

There are two kinds of costs in any company: direct costs and overhead costs. In our last article, Direct Costs | HVAC Pricing Series Part 3, we covered some of the more common types of direct costs you have because you get a job. In Part 4 of this Finding the Right Price HVAC Series, we turn our focus towards overhead costs — which are the costs you have whether you get a job or not.

Overhead costs are all the costs you have in your company that are not specifically related to a job. These costs are varied and in a few cases they are difficult to identify and determine. But most of these costs are pretty straightforward and here are some examples: rent or mortgage payments on your shop, utilities, employee benefits, advertising, insurance, shop furniture and equipment, office supplies, some types of taxes, office salaries and FICA taxes, vehicles, gas and vehicle maintenance, training, travel and entertainment expenses, governmental compliance expenses, legal and accounting expenses, communications expenses, computer and software expenses including ongoing support/training, consumer financing expenses (points paid). These overhead costs are easy to determine because they have invoices, bills and paychecks associated with each of them.

The Top Four Hardest to Determine Overhead Costs:

Cell Phone Expenses:

Cell phone expense has grown into one of the biggest expenses in a service based HVAC company. Your employees use their cell phones in an amazing variety of ways to help themselves and your company, everything from driving instructions to tech support on the job to receiving their next service call. It is important to continually update to the latest phones and phone service to be able to take advantage of the latest technology. However, it is just as important to be diligent in watching these expense to be sure they are paying for themselves in increased production and to be sure that you are getting the best service and coverage for the lowest price. It is up to you to monitor the cell phone service providers to be sure you are getting the most for your money.

Owner Salary Expenses:

When the owner of the business actually works in the field on specific installation jobs or when he runs service calls, the dollars he earns for that work are considered direct costs and need to be shown as part of those direct costs when setting the right price for a job. However, as the business grows the owner usually is less active in actual jobs and spends more time “working in the office.” Therefore, it is usually appropriate to split an owner’s salary into both direct costs and overhead costs based on the estimated percentage of both office work and field work.

Warranty Expenses:

Most new HVAC companies neglect to accrue dollars into a warranty expense account. However, in any service business, especially HVAC businesses, warranty expenses are real and reoccurring expenses. In fact, most HVAC companies actually offer their own warranty for most of their work, usually a one year parts and labor warranty on most jobs performed. But, techs don’t always fix things correctly or install equipment properly, equipment will break down occasionally, service parts don’t always work. It costs you money to send someone back to a job, so a smart business owner will accrue dollars into a warranty expense account to cover those future expenses. Oftentimes that accrual will be as high as 2% of the company’s total sales (revenue).

Unapplied Labor Expenses:

This is one of the largest overhead costs in most service companies, and one that is almost always overlooked. Unapplied labor expense happens when you pay your employees that normally work on specific jobs for work that is not specific to any job. This is most common for installation or service techs. Examples of unapplied labor include paying your techs to come into the shop every morning to get their daily assignments, drive time to and between jobs, time to pick up parts at a supply house, training, and employee meetings. Many of these expenses are good and necessary, but these expenses add up fast and need to be watched carefully. Every business owner should be diligent about reducing unapplied labor. Every business owner should track unapplied labor and include those expenses into their overhead costs. The best tip I can give a business owner is to NOT have techs come into the shop except when absolutely necessary: route your employees to their first jobs by text or email or computer communication from their homes.

Overhead costs are accumulated and calculated into a multitude of different categories, many of which were discussed above. Those categories are then added together to get the final overhead cost for a company. That final overhead cost is then used specifically in the calculation of the right price for any job. That final overhead cost is generally shown as a percentage of company’s total sales.

The right price you set for any job must cover the entire amount of the direct costs you have for that specific job. And, it must cover its share of the overhead costs. No one job will cover all the overhead costs for the company for the entire year, so each job must cover its fair share of the overhead costs. Therefore, all the combined jobs you get during the year will cover the entire amount of overhead costs the company will have for that year.

Now that we’ve established a general understanding of the types of costs, the next article in the series will help you look at your options to consider when trying to change your costs. I recommend using our free direct costs worksheet, download link provided below, to assist you in determining what some of your costs are. If you have any questions or comments over direct or overhead costs, or any general pricing or HVAC topic, let us know in the comment section below or give us a call toll-free at 1-800-322-9675.

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Direct Costs | HVAC Pricing Series Part 3

Part 1 & 2 of the series covered Pricing Awareness and What is the Right Price. Part 3 will start to take a deeper look into how we can begin thinking about where your bottom line is before you can find the right price point for your products and services. To do this, there are two kinds of costs in any company: Direct Costs and Overhead Costs. Direct costs are the costs you have because you get a job, while overhead costs are the costs you have whether you get a job or not.

Direct costs happen because you actually get a job and you have to buy things to perform that job. These kinds of costs would include most, if not all of the following tasks. Each of these items should be written down and have a cost assigned to it so that there is a record of the materials used on the job. Writing down these amounts makes sure that you don’t forget anything and they act as a permanent record of what you estimated was needed on the job. Having that record helps you do a better estimation for the next job.

The six most common Direct Costs:

Materials:

For a typical HVAC company examples of these items could be furnace, coil, condenser, line set, thermostat, pad, whip, disconnect, wiring supplies, fluing supplies, brazing supplies, gas piping supplies, sheet metal supplies, grills and registers, drain supplies, repair parts, cleaning supplies. Freight costs to deliver these materials to your company or the job site are also included. The costs for each of these items are easily found from your invoices or receipts. Usually you have a very knowledgeable idea what the specific material costs for a specific job will be before the job is performed.

Subcontractors:

These costs are incurred when you hire another contractor to do part of the job. Examples of subcontractors are electricians, chimney sweeps, plumbers, cranes, core cutters and others. You will know before you set your price exactly what the cost will be for these subcontractors because they have bid the job and given you a price (or you can reasonably estimate their prices because of your experience.)

Permits:

These are the state, federal or local permits needed to perform the job legally and to code.

Labor:

These costs are the actual costs of the labor to perform the job. These costs are probably the hardest costs to estimate to be able to come up with the Right Price as they have the largest elements of the unknown. How long will it really take to do a specific job? Who will perform the labor on the job, the fast guy or the slow guy? Do we need a helper on the job? Will we run into unexpected problems such as rain, heat, breakdowns, illness, and customer issues? Most experienced HVAC professionals have a pretty good idea how to estimate the labor for any job based on the prior performance of their techs (or themselves) on similar jobs. So, based on experience determine the number of hours of labor to complete a job for each tech and multiply those hours times the labor rate of each tech. That labor rate should include the fringe benefits you pay such as taxes, FICA, health insurance, vacation, sick leave, etc. So if you pay a tech $10 per hour base rate and he also gets $5 per hour in benefits, that tech has a labor rate of $15 per hour. If it will take 20 hours to perform the job, then multiply 20 hours times $15 per hour to get a total labor cost of $300. When in doubt add a few hours to the job.

Specialty Equipment/Tool Rental or Purchase:

These items could include scissor lifts, fork trucks, unloading equipment, jack hammer rental, lifting devices and others. Oftentimes, an owner will include a portion of the replacement costs of the specialty equipment/tools if the company actually owns the items.

Sales Commission:

This is the money that is paid to your salespeople once the sale is made. It is only paid if there is a sale so it is considered a direct cost.

Once you have written down all your direct costs, add them all together to come up with a final dollar amount. Knowing your actual (or professionally estimated) direct costs is a key number in the mathematical formula used to determine the Right Price for your job. Obviously, the right price must cover the direct costs incurred to perform the job or you will lose money on the job.

Download cfm”s Direct Cost Worksheet to make figuring out your direct costs a little easier. In the next article, Overhead Costs | HVAC Pricing Series Part 4, I will cover overhead costs in more detail, and help you to better understand the complexity that they too add to your price planning. If you have any questions or comments about direct costs, let us know in the comment section below or contact us directly at 1-800-322-9675.