Jump to content
Click here to check out our structured, online appliance repair training courses for rookies and experienced techs.

FAQs | Repair Videos | Academy | Newsletter | Podcast | Contact

Stay connected with us...

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for lots of appliance repair tips and help! Subscribe to our MST Radio podcast to learn secrets of the trade. Sign up for our free newsletter and keep up with all things Appliantology.

Samurai Appliance Repair Man's Blog

  • entries
    845
  • comments
    1,185
  • views
    2,499,341

The Future of Appliance Repair - The Internet of Things

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

3,378 views

You guys have heard me say in webinars and elsewhere that we are going through a paradigm shift in the appliance repair trade. Gone are the days of Buttcrack Bubba. Parts Changing Monkeys are already obsolete and everywhere going out of business-- and good riddance! At the same time, techs who keep learning the new technologies being incorporated into appliances are thriving and have growing businesses. 

Appliance techs today have nothing substantive in common with trades thought to be "related"-- home handymen, plumbers, electricians, or HVAC mechanics. The days are now here where we have more in common with computer technicians. You've heard me talk about how troubleshooting today's computer-controlled appliances is no different from troubleshooting any computer, including your desktop computer-- the troubleshooting process is identical. 

Now we're kickin' it up a notch as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a reality. The IoT refers to the interconnectedness of formerly discreet machines and devices, such as appliances. All the manufacturers are coming out with wifi-enabled appliances.

IoT is not a kitschy marketing fad to sell more appliances. This is an extension of the same pattern we've seen over and over again with appliances- the manufacturers are simply adopting a firmly-established technology trend which will only become more prevalent as the new models come out. 

The response of too many appliance servicers is to whine and complain about electronics in appliances.

Word: Get over it. Adapt or die. 

The days are soon approaching where a common service call will involve troubleshooting network and wifi connectivity problems with appliances. Are you ready and willing to add computer networking and communications to your repertoire of technical skills?

I think the Pareto principle (the 80-20 rule) applies here as it does to so many other things in life: 80% of current techs will either be late to the ball or fail to adapt altogether while the top 20% in the trade will continue to stay ahead of the curve (that's the statistical bell curve, to which the Pareto Principle refers) and will prosper. Which group will you be in? 

We have guys here at Appliantology who don't know how to search, don't check their email inboxes (even after they've sent me an email to which I've replied), don't know what a link is, can't figure out how to log in, can't even get a model number right... where will these guys be in 5 years? Where will you be?

 

Smart-Appliances-and-Kitchen-of-Tomorrow

 

Infographic Source: http://www.pennywell.ie/

 

 

  • Like 3


21 Comments


Recommended Comments

A lot of modern day engines have some diagnostics in the ECM's to flash codes but they still require you to connect a computer to them to diagnose the systems to see what is happening with them. I am curious as to how long it will be before we have to start connecting our computers to them to troubleshoot. There may already be some out there like that that I am not aware of.

Share this comment


Link to comment

I do miss the days of getting many calls to work on direct drive washers but like you said, adapt or die.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Posted

Just now, AQAppliances said:

I do miss the days of getting many calls to work on direct drive washers

I'm bored out of my skull with that washer. Lovin' the new era of computer-controlled appliances and looking forward to working on the wifi-connected stuff. Webinar on that coming soon! 

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
DurhamAppliance

Posted (edited)

That's how i feel about top mount fridges with manual timers...yawn..  wake me when it's over.  If they bore geezers like us,  I wonder how the hell do they keep the attention of these attention-deficit-disordered young-uns?    Oh,  nevermind...  I guess they love them because they can work on them while being on facespace,  snapshut and twerker all at the same time. 

Edited by DurhamAppliance
  • Like 2

Share this comment


Link to comment

I guess with appliances becoming more hi-tech it will kill the YouTube repair crowd. I have noticed over the last few years that more people were able to fix their own appliances. My one friend's wife, that has no technical ability, was able to replace the pump on her whirlpool direct drive washer. I doubt she could diagnose and replace an acuator on one of those newer whirlpool models. 

Share this comment


Link to comment

When I told a friend of mine that I was doing appliance repair he told me "I always fix my own". Last week when I saw him he said he had a washer, ice machine, & range that he needs me to come take a look at and see what is wrong with them. I told him that I needed the model numbers before I would come out. His wife said she would send them to me. She hasn't yet, and I thought what happened to "I fix my own." I guess it is easy to fix them if someone comes and does the diagnostics and tells you which part to change.

Some engine manufactures figured out that it was more profitable to make you buy a software and pay a yearly subscription fee in order to diagnose & work on their equipment. I wouldn't be surprised if some appliance companies don't jump on that band wagon in the future.

Share this comment


Link to comment
richseattle56

Posted

Computers have helped mankind in so many areas, but to think that computers have helped the major appliance industry is crazy. In the times of defrost timers, if the timer failed the consumer would pay about $60 for a new timer, but in the days of ADC the consumer will pay $150 to $250 for the SAME problem. And buy the way, if people can fix their own appliances by watching a video, great. I am not even worried about that in the least. High Efficiency has hurt major appliances. The consumer may save on power or water, but in a few years they will pay for it in repair.

Share this comment


Link to comment
richseattle56

Posted

On 2/28/2016 at 3:37 PM, Samurai Appliance Repair Man said:

I'm bored out of my skull with that washer. Lovin' the new era of computer-controlled appliances and looking forward to working on the wifi-connected stuff. Webinar on that coming soon! 

The Whirlpool direct drive washer is the best designed washer ever made. It takes a lickin and keeps on going. Easy to repair. In expensive to repair. And it is a sad thing the federal goverment told Whirlpool they can't make it anymore for residential use although you can still get a coin op.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Posted

6 hours ago, richseattle56 said:
6 hours ago, richseattle56 said:

The Whirlpool direct drive washer is the best designed washer ever made. It takes a lickin and keeps on going. Easy to repair.

Computers have helped mankind in so many areas, but to think that computers have helped the major appliance industry is crazy.

When I read comments like these from a presumed professional tech and brethren in the craft, I just have to quote myself from the blog post:

Quote

The response of too many appliance servicers is to whine and complain about electronics in appliances.

Word: Get over it. Adapt or die. 

Regardless of what we think about the economic or social impact of computer-controlled appliances, the reality is that they are here, they are not going away, the trend is accelerating in that direction, that train has left the station. My opinion or your opinion on the matter are irrelevant to the reality that confronts us: learn the new tech or become obsolete and find another line of work. 

Each tech needs to ask himself if he's really a technician? If so, then consider the word technology. Both words have the same root, tech, from the Greek word τέχνη, techne, "art, skill, cunning of hand". Since technology is always changing, this means that our "art, skill, cunning of hand" as professional technicians must also continually improve and learn new techniques. In other words, our personal techne-- our art, skill, and cunning of hand as technicians-- cannot be stuck in old, dead tech but instead must be alive, living in the present.

I've read lots of impassioned screeds here at Appliantology from other techs lamenting these changes, and they all have one message in common that comes through loud and clear:

Fear.

This fear of the new technology comes from not understanding it and so it is a perceived threat to their livelihood as a professional technician. And, in fact, if they do nothing to address their lack of understanding, that perceived threat will become a reality and perhaps already is. 

Rather than waste time and energy posting consumer-crusading comments singing the praises of old technology, their time would be far more profitably spent learning the new technology and thereby eliminating the ignorance that is causing so much inner turmoil. 

And I bring everyone good news: technological ignorance is 100% curable! A great place to start is right here at Appliantology. Helping fellow techs in the forums with problems they're struggling with is a great way to learn and keep up.

A more direct and structured path to technological illumination is the online training courses at Master Samurai Tech where you will learn the missing skills that you need to accurately troubleshoot and repair today's computer-controlled appliances. 

Share this comment


Link to comment
richseattle56

Posted

It is not a fear, it is a sad result from computers in appliances, which causes the consumer to pay much higher prices for repairs then in the past. And appliance companies have not yet got the bugs worked out yet. I saw a post on this site from a veteran tech who said he thought that they were designing appliances these days to last about 15 years. I don't fear the new technology. I do not like that my customers pay higher pices for parts, and much earlier repairs from their purchase date. Recently I repaired a 2 year old direct drive washer. The MCU had failed. $224 for the board. Maybe someday appliance companies will get the engineering right, and boards wont fail in two years. I have a landlord customer who asked me a couple years ago whichbrand of appliances I would recomend for rentals. I told her Whirlpool. So about a year ago she went out and bought serveral Whirlpool appliances. She called me a mounth after the refrigerator went out of warranty. Had a refrigerant leak in the evaporator. I told her to call WP cause I thought the sealed system should have a 5 year warranty. It did not, only a 1 year on the sealed system. But WP sad they would send the evaporator for free. Only problem they did not any of the evaporators in stock. A 1 year old appliance and parts are not available. Again no fear just disappointment.

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
AQAppliances

Posted

The cost of the electronics on the new appliances is an issue. Some of the boards on these units cost about half of what the entire appliance costs. Hopefully as time passes the price of the boards will come down. It's terrible telling a customer with an appliance less than 5 years old that they would be better off replacing because the parts cost too much. 

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Posted

14 minutes ago, richseattle56 said:

It is not a fear... I do not like that my customers pay higher pices for parts,

Okay, so it's a customer crusade. Thank you for your thoughts.

We all know that this is a time of transition in the trade, brought on by various pressures including increasingly stringent energy requirements from the government. Transitions are usually a bit messy, but this will pass and customers will gradually forget about the "good old appliances" along with our concerns over their repair costs. 

We're not going to go back, so instead of lamenting the "good ol' days" I'm interested in looking at today and tomorrow and how all the possible implications of IoT for us as professional techs, both good and bad. This is a real issue facing us today as professional appliance techs.

I find it very interesting that no one has any forward-looking thoughts on what other implications IoT could have on our trade, specifically on us as professional servicers.

What about the more ominous side: when the appliance computer detects an error and contacts the manufacturer who then automatically dispatches the ASC? How much of a threat could this be to the unaffiliated service company? 

 

Share this comment


Link to comment
richseattle56

Posted

1 hour ago, Samurai Appliance Repair Man said:

 

What about the more ominous side: when the appliance computer detects an error and contacts the manufacturer who then automatically dispatches the ASC? How much of a threat could this be to the unaffiliated service company? 

 

That would have to happen under warranty. I have no concen about that. And the SMART APPLIANCES I have seen aren't that smart. My smart phone thinks I work at Reliable Parts in Tukwila, I don't, not that smart. I am only there a few minutes a day.

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Dave the handyman

Posted

I have been in design and manufacturing as an engineer for about 35 years and started my  repair business over a decade go.  There're are many aspects of the situation, but the ever-changing technology and fear are clearly unavoidable issues.  The real problem aid marketing in my experience.  They are responsible for remotes with too many tiny buttons and washers with 13 speeds.  The constant mantra was "Get it out the door!" Despite our pleas that some things weren't ready.  "Don't worry, we can fix it later."  "We need to meet the market window."  Not that designers don't make mistakes, but we did not write the specs, choose the hard to read buttons, etc.  Once we were awaiting a turbidity probe from Australia and the marketing VP asked when we would have it ready to ship.  WE hadn't seen it yet and the sales guy says, "I just sold 40.  I need the those probes!"  We were told to expedite 41 of them and drop ship 40 to the sales department.  Of course it was our fault they did not work.

If I was entrepreneurial enough (or younger) I'd seriously consider trying to get easy to use and easy to repair things.  TV remotes that only change channels and volume and that had  contrasting buttons big enough to see.  Washers with three speeds.  

Don't be afraid.  I have found that the most difficult part of most repairs is getting the damn thing open.

 

Share this comment


Link to comment
DurhamAppliance

Posted (edited)

20 hours ago, richseattle56 said:

...  And it is a sad thing the federal goverment told Whirlpool they can't make it anymore for residential use although you can still get a coin op.

And you believe that's the reason whirlpool appliances now suck,  that whirpool is innocent when they put stupidly designed duckbill grommets,  plastic crap evaporator trays,  wonky computers,  frontloader door problems that they know are problematic and lie about the "repair"  (a bag of Afresh)..icemakers ( the heat released models)  that fail in a few months on their machines?   You actually believe,  if given a choice,  Whirlpool would go back to making inexpensive,  long lasting appliances? Really?  

The future is now,  techs that tell customers their new appliances suck,  even if the customer agrees,  are setting themselves up for failure.  I want my customers to know I enjoy working on the new appliances,  that there is a net gain to having high tech appliances.   

Never!  what I have is cheaper,  lasts longer, and doesn't  need much repair... those will never catch on.. said the cowboy to the horseless carriage salesman

Edited by DurhamAppliance
  • Like 3

Share this comment


Link to comment
LI-NY Tech

Posted (edited)

The more complex the better.  It's more challenging, more profitable, limits competition, and cuts down on DIY.  I'm a consumer as well, but as a technician I'm happy to see more expensive and more complex machines.  That means more money for me, and well, let's be real...what's more important to you as an appliance tech/business owner?  Perceived fairness to the customer or cash to feed the children?  Hmmm, that seems pretty easy.  I made a ton of money off direct drive Whirlpools.  Great machines.  And now they're just about gone.  Ok.  So what?  I also make a ton of money off PCBs, and they're not greasy.

For the record there are well made products that have no problem meeting regulatory standards and also function beautifully.  But they are $$$$.  Think Miele, and high end in general (maybe not Viking ;)).  

Most of the complaints of poorly made products can be attributed to "American" (named) companies like Whirlpool.  Seems like another American company had similar problems (GM - see here for more on that: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/403/nummi )

This is 2016.  This is literally "the future"...right now.  No more "one day..." or "at some point..."  Nope.  Now.  Today.  5 years ago.  Plugging a computer into an OBDII port is so 1997.  Bring on the wifi, less shit to carry in my tool bag.

Edited by LI-NY Tech
  • Like 4

Share this comment


Link to comment
Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Posted

Holy shit! Awesome comment, Dave-- I wish I had written that! 

Imagine: here we are professional appliance techs who fix broken appliances for a living and yet, everytime I bring up the topic of future appliance technologies, the luddite techs come out of the woodwork to post anti-technology screeds sometimes disguised as customer crusades, droning on about how they're "concerned about the prices their customers have to pay for repairs." Its so refreshing to read forward-looking comments.

For those who don't know, the Luddites were 19th-century English textile workers (or self-employed weavers) who feared the end of their trade because of advances in technology. In modern times, the term has been used to describe those people in general who are hostile to new technologies because they don't understand them.

Thank you for taking the time to post your salient and spot-on comments.  

  • Like 2

Share this comment


Link to comment
DurhamAppliance

Posted (edited)

Cooments in this blog inspired my most recent remake;

 

Edited by DurhamAppliance
  • Like 2

Share this comment


Link to comment
QualityMike

Posted

On 2/28/2016 at 8:24 PM, AQAppliances said:

I guess with appliances becoming more hi-tech it will kill the YouTube repair crowd. I have noticed over the last few years that more people were able to fix their own appliances. My one friend's wife, that has no technical ability, was able to replace the pump on her whirlpool direct drive washer. I doubt she could diagnose and replace an acuator on one of those newer whirlpool models. 

one of my customers did the same, and a year later she called me out to fix her dryer, she asked me if i could put the washer cabinet top back on correctly because she couldnt get it. (WP Direct drive model) I did, and didnt charge her because i fixed her dryer. she was soooo happy, it was as if i gave her $500…  i think we undervalue our abilities in our customers eyes and overvalue our customers capabilities alot of times.

Share this comment


Link to comment
rasputista

Posted

The problem i am seeing is boards failing early, like in two and a half years. I used to work on AEG and Hitachi appliances that were electronic 20 years ago. The boards of today do not have their quality. Is there a standard - apparently you get consumer grade boards and military grade boards ?

 Whirlpool seem to have the best boards and Frigidaire the worst with the rest in between. We now tell customers to use surge protecters although new houses now have them.

I will keep my old school machines going as they work better and i do not have to replace them every couple of years.

We have to grasp the future and deal with it - electronics and the net are a paradigm shift in our lives even if most people cannot se it.

Share this comment


Link to comment
On 3/4/2016 at 12:37 PM, Dave the handyman said:

If I was entrepreneurial enough (or younger) I'd seriously consider trying to get easy to use and easy to repair things.  TV remotes that only change channels and volume and that had  contrasting buttons big enough to see.  Washers with three speeds.  

Funny to read this 

new tv I saw the other day had shown on the box

it came with 2 remotes 

a full function remote with all the buttons 

and a basic remote , power , channels , volume 

quite clever really 

Share this comment


Link to comment
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.