To borrow a slogan from a famous television insurance advert, change happens. Few working in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry would doubt that the pace of change in the way we use refrigerants is increasing and to a large extent it is how we deal with this that is important.
The latest raft of F-Gas Regulations which came into effect in January this year position low GWP (Global Warming Potential) refrigerants at the heart of change in the industry. The phase out of high GWP refrigerants will alter the face of the industry and set new challenges for all who work with refrigerants.
How to manage this is a key element which will ultimately determine the success of the new regulations. The increased use of new and unfamiliar refrigerants will affect those working in all parts of the industry but undoubtedly the workforce that will feel the effects the most will be the engineers and contractors.
The legislation that came into force at the beginning of the year set the industry the task of reporting leaks based on CO2 equivalent calculations rather than kilograms. It also demanded follow-up checks from as early as 30 days to ensure that the work had been successful.
Legal log books
The regulations also require accurate F-Gas log books. Traditional methods of refrigerant reporting are time consuming and require a large paper trail. With this there is the added burden of endless filing and the risk of losing paper copies.
So I am sure you will agree that any method that cuts down on the use of paper and provides accurate reports is welcome, especially if this lessens the impact on the environment. But with the industry largely relying on manual logs, any alternative has to fully fit the needs of the user without making the job more complicated.
The only way of achieving this is to ask those working in the industry what they need to help them. This is what A-Gas did. We undertook extensive research at many levels of the industry to find out exactly what was needed to replace the old style paper-based system and provide something that was more efficient and able to meet the changing needs of the refrigeration industry.
They wanted a tool with a built-in barcode scanner that would gather accurate information in an instant. They wanted the ability to analyse performance when they needed it to meet the needs of F-Gas compliance and ensure end user customer satisfaction. The devil is in the detail with leak detection and to have a handy piece of kit which can make this simple to understand was the clear message we were receiving.
Engineers wanted access to information at their fingertips. They wanted reports on what work had been carried out on a make or model of equipment to the type and the quantity of the refrigerant used at a specific site.
Tracking and tracing
The industry is beginning to recognise that the ability to track refrigerant usage by the cylinder, equipment and the customer is becoming a necessity – and if you can achieve this online, so much the better. That’s why A-Gas has launched Gas-Trak Online™ (GTO), an F-Gas reporting and cylinder-tracking tool, designed to make leak detecting and refrigerant management easier. Free to download on smartphones and tablets, this app comes complete with the key features needed to help users comply with the complex issues presented by the F-Gas Regulations.
We quickly understood that if you could do this work without the need for Internet access it would make the job even easier. The ability to log all your refrigerant use in the app and summarise the data in a unique online F-Gas log-book was a quick way to store the required information. The app had to be fast and efficient and able to be used on the move, while storing cylinder and asset data from a range of different suppliers.
Be quicker and more efficient
Be sure that the latest F-Gas Regulations are only the beginning of a series of major changes to affect our industry. A more holistic approach in how we use and work with refrigerants is emerging around the world. Information at the touch of a button for those working at the sharp end will become increasingly valuable to determine the way we manage this.