ZoomLock Cost Analysis
Determining if there is value in using a press-fit joint such as ZoomLock™ requires that you look at several factors that impact cost and quality. We covered the technical aspects of ZoomLock™ in another article; see ZoomLock vs Brazed for additional information. In this article we are strictly looking at this from a financial perspective. We try to answer one question in this ZoomLock Cost Analysis, ‘Does ZoomLock make financial sense for your business?
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ZoomLock Value Calculator
Be careful when using the online downloadable ZoomLock™ value calculator as it appears to us that they have over inflated the time it takes to make a brazed joint. They are showing that the ZoomLock joints take about 25% of the time as a brazed joint, or the equivalent of a 75% savings. This even contradicts their literature that claims a 60% savings.
There are also many versions of the ZoomLock Calculator available when doing a Google search. Here are two versions of them;
1) http://sporlanonline.com/zoomlock/value-calculator/ (2017 version)
2) ZoomLock Value Calculator 2016 (Direct download of an Excel file) Google for file.
The ZoomLock calculator also uses $95/Hr for brazing and $75/Hr for their fitting. This reflects the lower skill level required to make a ZoomLock joint compared to that for a brazed joint.
When I look at the MCA database and do the calculations I find a different value, ranging from 61% to a 73% savings based on size. This is strictly based on the labor unit values in the MCA database for “OD Size Wrot/Cast Copper Fittings” and “Ridgid ProPress”. MCA doesn’t have ZoomLock values, so ProPress values are used which is basically the same setup and procedure for a press-fit joint. For our example I’ll use “Couplings” (Unit values are in hours/each fitting)
One of ZoomLock’s online video’s shows that they can do 8 joints to a single brazed joint, which implies an 87% savings. There appears to be some inconsistency in ZoomLocks marketing on their websites, downloadable calculator and various publications of just how much labor you can save using their fittings, but there is no denying the fact that you will save time with their system.
It’s important to establish the basis’s of comparison and the unit values that are used in any analysis. We’ll use a 60% savings in our cost analysis as this matches the MCA database and ZoomLock’s published data. It’s also important to note that your values will differ based on the skill level of your installation personnel. The unit values above have assumptions based on standard working conditions, and the unit values include receiving, unloading, stockpiling, distribution, handling and erection, fitting and joining and pressure testing.
MCA – Mechanical Contractors Association
For those of you who are unfamiliar with MCA (Mechanical Contractors Association), they are an industry organization who as part of their service provides publications, training and a database of labor units garnered through contractor surveys. If you own a commercial HVAC company and use estimating software for piping takeoff’s, then its most likely that you have the option of using MCA as a choice for your labor unit values.
ZoomLock™ Fitting & Labor Cost
In our ZoomLock Cost Analysis we look at the two main costs that impact the financial decision on whether to use ZoomLock™ fittings, one is labor and the other is the cost of the fittings and tools. The cost of the fittings differs from the cost of the tools in that the fittings are a direct cost charged to a certain project, while the tools are a capital asset that can be used on multiple projects and will be depreciated over time.
ZoomLocks Value Calculator (2017 Version) shows that their fittings cost anywhere from 11 to 24 times that of an OD wrot copper fitting, your cost could be different based on your companies buying power and the discount your supplier provides you. Their average cost is 15x times that of a brazed fitting. We’ll use an average of 14 times for this example.
ZoomLock™ Installed Cost
Comparing ZoomLock™ to Brazing reveals that at some point there will be an intersection or breakeven point between the two systems. In the situation where labor rates are low, the extra cost of the ZoomLock™ material will dictate that brazing is more cost effective. Likewise, as the labor rate increases, the cost of labor becomes the overriding factor, making ZoomLock™ the more cost effective solution due to its labor saving features.
ZoomLock™ Breakeven Point
The breakeven point is determined by three factors; material cost, labor rate and labor productivity. The breakeven point will differ from one company to another based on these factors. The two main variables are your company’s purchasing power with your vendor and the labor rates for field installation personnel. Your labor productivity should be close to the industry norms. The example in the chart shows a $35/hour breakeven point, which means anything above that crew rate for your installers would make ZoomLock™ financially viable. This is just an example and your breakeven rate will differ. Just realize that the breakeven point is going to be much higher than $35/hour for most companies. This example is strictly based on a financial analysis, exclusive of all the other benefits of using a non-flame fitting as discussed in a previous article. The breakeven point changes when you change the variables in the ZoomLock Value Calculator.
Fitting Cost Variance
Based on which size fittings are part of your project, the cost various. The most common and highly manufactured OD Wrot Copper brazed fittings drop in price based on size, so a larger fitting size could actually be less costly than a smaller fitting. In these cases the cost difference between ZoomLock™ and brazed fittings increases, causing the chart below to look more like a stock on Wall Street than a straight line. This is shown by looking at the 5/8” fitting size to notice that the difference between ZoomLock™ and brazed is at its greatest. ZoomLock™ fittings increase in cost sequentially with the fitting size.
Since this report is based solely on a financial decision we won’t go in depth on the other considerations when making a decision to use ZoomLock™. Putting cost aside there are many benefits to the use of ZoomLock™ or press-fit fittings when installing refrigerant piping. Labor is the obvious advantage, but others such as we covered in our previous article entitled “ZoomLock vs. Brazed”. These advantages include no need for a hot working permit, reduced risk of fires from a brazing torch, no smell from a torch or the accidental setting off of smoke detectors, or the use of a nitrogen purge.
Our ZoomLock Cost analysis believes that ZoomLock is a financially viable alternative when labor rates and labor productivity are high enough to offset the additional cost of the special fittings. The breakeven point is determined by the cost of material, labor rates and labor productively. The analysis doesn’t take into consideration varying jobsite conditions that could make either of the options undesirable for many reasons, such as space restrictions, building construction material types, occupancy type and facility protocols when using an open flame tool.
Based on our ZoomLock Cost Analysis we definitely recommend that you call your local ZoomLock™ distributor and get a free demo, it just may be the next generation of joints with the greatest growth potential, and if your customer has seen an advertisement about it and is more aware then you are, that’s embarrassing.