Managing multiple sites with a single BAS
As technological advances add features and enhance performance of plant BASs, systems are being harnessed for wider application.
As technological advances add features and enhance performance of plant BASs, systems are being harnessed for wider application. Important building management objectives range from improved HVAC equipment schedules and increased workforce productivity through enhanced environmental conditions, equipment diagnostics, and improved energy cost control and monitoring capabilities.
At Graco, Inc., a Minnesota-based fluid handling systems and components firm, an added goal was linking multiple remote sites to a single BAS. In 1995, management committed to air conditioning the company's Minneapolis plant. Corporate Facilities Manager Mike Hatling responded with a plan to replace the facility's aging rooftop units and install a BAS to manage them. His vision was to install a system that would extend to other company facilities and allow his staff to manage all aspects of their mechanical systems effectively, efficiently, and centrally.
The result was the installation of more than 50 rooftop units with built-in controls at two facilities linked to a BAS from the same vendor. The second plant was a new 333,000 sq-ft structure located in nearby Rogers, MN. Tying both plants to a single BAS gave the company unified comfort control along with the benefits of a single supplier, and took the company closer to being able to remotely dial in and check conditions at multiple sites.
The system was soon extended to other facilities and applications. At the Rogers plant, the BAS now monitors air compressors as well as the HVAC system. Then, chillers at a third facility were linked to the central BAS. Most recently, rooftop units at the firm's Sioux Falls, SD, plant were connected to the BAS by phone line. The Minneapolis corporate maintenance staff monitors the equipment. Notes Hatling, "If a problem arises, a phone call is often all it takes to solve it."
In addition to centralized control, the BAS is also helping manage energy costs. Among the applications is a regular check of outside air damper positions. The system provides real-time instant access to data on the central display. The company plans to improve maintenance and control strategies further by converting pneumatic controls to DDC.
Information for this section was provided by Graco, Inc., Minneapolis, MN, and The Trane Company, La Crosse, WI. The BAS is a Tracer Summit from The Trane Company's Building Automation Systems Div., St. Paul, MN.
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.