Hopefully by now, all the automotive distribution outlets are aware of the impending change in refrigerant recovery, recycle and recharge equipment. For those not yet aware, a short review is in order.
The Society of Automotive Engineers, the Mobile Air Conditioning Society Worldwide, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established the Improved Mobile Air Conditioning 30/50 project in 2005. The project's fundamental purpose is to cost-effectively design next-generation mobile A/C systems with fewer leak points, and improve service procedures to minimize the refrigerant emissions of R-134a.
Because of this partnership, new A/C systems are becoming physically smaller and require increased charge accuracy. Accordingly, tighter standards are in place for automotive A/C recovery, recycle and recharge equipment. The new standard, SAE J2788, drives four new requirements the shop owners and technicians need to understand. They are:
- 95-percent recovery efficiency.
- Charge accuracy within a 1/2oz.
- Mandatory filter changes.
- Minimal cross-contamination of system oil in machines equipped with an oil-injection feature.
There are other requirements that OEMs must meet, but they are invisible to the shop owner or technician.
Though the EPA has not made an official announcement, as of this writing, manufacturers can produce the current models through Dec. 31, 2007, and sales will be permitted through March 2008. After that, the previous generation of equipment cannot be registered with the EPA. Any A/C service equipment in a shop before that date will be “grandfathered” and allowed through the useful life of the machine.
The task now is to get shop owners to see how this standard will help them be more profitable with equipment meeting J2788.
Understand the new standard
A shop owner will ask many questions about the differences between the old standard and the new standard. An informed sales representative can help the shop owner make the best decision for his business.
Under the old SAE J2210 standard, recovery efficiency and charge accuracy were never requirements. The recovery, recycle and recharge machines were only required to achieve a vacuum level of 4” of Mercury and meet a shop safety specification. The recovery efficiency mandated in the new standard means pulling more of the customer's refrigerant out of the vehicle and therefore using less virgin refrigerant when recharging.
Also, older systems were larger and more tolerant of over/undercharging — but today's vehicles require high charge accuracy. The best charge accuracy that could be claimed by older generation service machines is within 1oz., a 3-percent error on a 2lbs. system. That same charge accuracy on a 14oz. system is more than twice the error at 7 percent. Using the older equipment could mean extra time in the service bay as the technician adds and subtracts refrigerant to get optimal cooling in the cabin.
More time in the service bay means less profit for the shop.
Understand the customer's needs
Another opportunity for the sales representative to help his customer make an informed decision is the return on investment. The basic equation, profit divided by cost of machine equals number of services required to pay for machine, has not changed, but pointing out new features and benefits and tying that into increased profitability will be more effective.
The shop owner who is looking to get started in the business or has a seasonal business would certainly appreciate an easy-to-use menu-driven user interface. In a bigger shop, reclassifying the task will allow the expert technician to spend more time on tougher problems. An automatic, programmable machine that can recover, recycle, vacuum-leak check and recharge allows the technician to perform another task without attending to the machine until the job is finished.
Sell on value