In previous blogs we've discussed ways to reduce energy consumption, make savings through better space utilisation and looked at considerations for maximising resources outside the building, but how about those assets we already have? It's a great idea to be able to measure and monitor some of the equipment that is already in situ and to make sure it's being managed and maintained in the most efficient way. Being able to gather data on assets means that you can keep on top of their performance and ensure that they're maintained to prevent disruptive failure, which is costly financially and in terms of down time. Assets that need servicing at regular intervals can be monitored to investigate whether time between services can be extended reducing costs and manpower.
Add sensors to Air Handling Units
Most commercial buildings have at least one Air Handling Unit (AHU) if not quite a few. They are bulky and noisy and tend to be in plant rooms. As they suck air in from outside, a fabric filter cleans the air of most of the larger particulates that may be in the environment such as dust or pollen, which leads to the filter getting clogged up. Many AHUs have a liquid based manometer that provides a visual display of the differential pressure. This needs to be regularly checked because once the differential pressure gets above a certain value, then the filter needs changing. Often, to save labour and travel costs, the filters are changed on a set cadence whether they need to be or not. By adding a digital sensor to the AHU, real time data can be used to see exactly when the filter needs replacing and perhaps reduce the change from 4 to 3 times a year.
Smarter Asset Monitoring
As we have discovered in a recent deployment, if you are going to the effort of measuring something like differential pressure in a plant room then why not measure or monitor some additional elements in the process? For example, a simple contact sensor on the access door to the AHU can determine how long it took to change the filter and therefore indicate labour costs of that activity. By also measuring vibration and noise levels, trend lines can indicate if the unit has a problem with a bearing or a loose fitting. If you also measure the energy consumption of that 3-phase machine, you can balance servicing and maintenance to minimise power consumption and prevent catastrophic failure.
Detect more - learn more
By taking this view across the assets in your plant room, it's possible to detect deterioration in pumps, drives and fans using the noise frequencies they emit or the amount they vibrate during use. Levels in tanks and flow meters on supply pipes can not only measure water use but also detect leaks before they become a significant problem. Furthermore, temperature and humidity sensing on all air flowing into public spaces can provide additional independent input for optimising your HVAC system.
As with most of the enLight platform, the most cost effective way of deploying the network and connecting all the sensors would be to upgrade or augment the lighting in the plant room. They are still mostly lit by fluorescents and they are often left on for extended periods. However, these assets are pretty valuable and important in their own right so we do see the network built out purely on the need to monitor AHUs or chiller units with an ROI of less than 18 months, even without any energy saving from a lighting replacement program.
To discover more about enLight and how you can monitor and manage your organisation's assets and use the data to make effective changes and savings, please get in touch.