Soefker Services, LLC, of Memphis, TN, has taken a proactive approach to managing the diminishing supply and rising costs of R-22 refrigerant by using Polar Technology’s TrakRef™ software to manage their reclaim process and get the recovered R-22 back for future use. For years, R-22 has been the refrigerant of choice for commercial and residential systems. With so much demand, production of new R-22 remained strong even as pending U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations sought to reduce use of the refrigerant because of its high potential to contribute to global warming.
Recently, regulations have been put in place to reduce production and importation of R-22. These reductions signal that the use of R-22 is being phased out, so supply will continue to decrease and prices will continue to climb. The industry now faces the question of how to ensure adequate supply of R-22 for existing systems in the coming years.
With TrakRef, “we are now able to manage and protect our supplies of R-22.”
—Steve Harvey, Soefker Services
Reclaimed R-22 Makes Up the Difference
With a limited supply of new R-22 available, reclaimed R-22 will have to make up the difference. By switching to a reclaim program that allows them to get their recovered R-22 back at virgin specifications, contractors like Soefker Services have found a way to manage margins, ensure their supply for future work, and be responsible stewards of the environment.
Traditionally, reclaim programs have been transaction-based agreements in which the recovered refrigerant is sold by the service contractor to a distributor or reclaimer. By selling the refrigerant, the contractor loses possession and cannot get that refrigerant back. The contractor must buy back the reclaimed product or replace it with newly produced refrigerant. The reclaimer owns the gas and can recycle it back to virgin specifications to re-sell it in the marketplace.
With TrakRef, Soefker Services is managing its own reclaim process and recovering R-22. “We have been very pleased with the cost savings on the refrigerant and ease of use of the program,” says Steve Harvey, general manager of Soefker Services. “However, and equally important, we are now able to manage and protect our supplies of R-22.”
Participating in a Greener America
As an MSCA GreenSTAR-certified contractor, Soefker Services works hard to promote sustainability. “It’s an opportunity for us to re-use and recycle, and it allows us and our customers to participate in a greener America,” said Harvey. Using recycled refrigerant to service HVAC systems means that less new material has to be produced. It can also be a differentiator in the service market for system owners with environmental stewardship programs.
TrakRef provides transparency throughout the reclaim process. From contractor to distributor to Polar Technology, everyone who needs access to the information has it. Controls are built in to ensure the privacy of proprietary information so that the administrator can allow access as needed to their service technicians. Because it’s mobile-ready, the R-22 “bank” numbers can be seen when needed and where needed—at the office, on the road, or at the counter.
Simplifying Refrigerant Management
The TrakRef software family also gives contractors the option to control inventory, manage work orders, and maintain aggregate system records for their customers. Traditional recordkeeping techniques—such as keeping a paper trail through purchase orders and sales orders or logging information in a computer program—has been a cumbersome process. TrakRef simplifies and organizes the information. Field technicians can enter their work-order information through a laptop or mobile device, view specifications about the systems they are working on, and provide relevant information to their customers.
For system owners, TrakRef is a hub of information, keeping records on system maintenance events, refrigerant usage, and leak-rate calculations. Many large system owners prefer that their service contractor maintain the system records for them, which creates another revenue stream and added value for the contractor.
The regulatory environment continues to get tougher on everyone who uses or handles refrigerants, from the system owner to the contractor to the reclaim company. Each version of the TrakRef software is designed with compliance in mind, meeting or exceeding the needs for EPA and California’s AB-32 reporting demands.
Given the supply limitations on R-22, the increasing regulations around refrigerants, and the value of inventory such as R-22, refrigerant management is now a key part of business for successful mechanical contractors and service groups. Soefker Services’ incorporation of TrakRef provides them the transparency they need for compliance while participating in a refrigerant banking program.
For more information, visit www.polarresponsiblerecovery.com.