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Sensor Data for Remediating HVAC Failure
Posted 12/11/2018
Author Michael Youngs
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Implementation of new technology, specifically in the HVAC sector, can be a challenging process. Building owners and operators often wait before purchasing to ensure the technology is working well before they invest time and money. No building owner or operator wants to be the guinea pig.

Sensor technology, which provides predictive analytics and equipment operation intelligence, has recently gained traction in the commercial building sector. Having a predictive analysis process helps building owners get ahead of that catastrophic failure, turning reactive maintenance into proactive maintenance and cutting capital expenditures with planned replacements thus eliminating costly rush-jobs. This also assists in capital planning as it takes the guess work out of what systems will need replacement. Asset tagging and HVAC equipment inspections are very important.

When a building owner hooks up a thermostat to a building’s HVAC system with sensor technology, the owner can see the anomalies in the system. These strategic insights and predictive analytics from a data-driven standpoint are extremely valuable. These can be monitored remotely from a providing vendor that can detect such anomalies, look at operational characteristics of the system and offer predictive analytics.

Today we are seeing adoption of technology in statistical analytics and building analytics growing. Now that we have reduced the cost of sensor technologies and the reporting is cloud-based, we are not tying into a building's BMS system through CAT5 cables and people are more likely to adopt the tech because it is easier to install, maintain and access data. As the first wave of property owners begin to embrace this, we will see adoption rates continue to climb, especially over the next three to five years, as sensor technology starts to come down in cost.

For example, if a building owner is told “We have reviewed your sensor data and can tell from the analytics compiled that over the next six months this system is going to need to be replaced. It is 12 years old. It is an R22 refrigerant, a type of refrigerant currently being phased out in HVAC, and we are seeing that the system is not able to keep up and maintain temperatures consistently", the building owner is being given a runway of time in which to respond to the impending system failure. Predictive analytics for HVAC takes into account several variables including indoor and outdoor temperatures and the impact on humidity control, operations during the hottest times of the year and with that, provides feedback about potential system failure in order to plan, remediate and replace any faltering systems before they actually fail.

The cost savings can be significant if HVAC failures are predicted before they occur. Today, the traction and adoption is happening and property owners can look at multi-year optimization plans for capital usage. That is, instead of just replacing units when they break, garner the sensor data and the insight it provides into the state of that equipment, enabling owners to determine the year they will need a specific amount of money for capital expense replacements and this is the data to back that up.

With building owners beginning to embrace a predictive analysis process, they can get ahead of that catastrophic failure, turning reactive maintenance into proactive maintenance thus cutting capital expenditure with planned replacements and elimination of costly and rushed repair jobs.

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