HVAC systems now run by the numbers

AHR Expo draws record crowd as focus turns to sensors and analytics.

By Bob Vavra, CFE Media January 24, 2018

The world of big sheets of metal is merging with the world of small sensors. As the heating and air conditioning world met in Chicago for the annual AHR Expo from January 22-24, the talk centered on how to run the massive industrial HVAC systems more efficiently.

The 2018 event kicks off the industrial trade show season and if AHR attendance is any indication, this year is going to be an active one for manufacturing suppliers and their customers. Despite the typically unpredictable Chicago winter weather (the show opened with 55 degrees and rain and devolved into 28 and ice by the third day), show promoters said the event broke all attendance and exhibitor records.

This gave companies looking to showcase the latest in HVAC technology and how that technology increasingly is connecting to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) analytic tools. While the HVAC market always has been a data-driven discipline—including everything from temperature controls to motor vibration—the data now is being repackaged and synthesized to allow for better decision-making by operators and earlier maintenance.

Toronto-based Armstrong Fluid Technology is offering a performance management service with new pump purchases through December 2018. Owners and end users can sign up for the introductory offer as an integral part of the warranty registration.

“Technology now looks beyond energy savings to provide a comprehensive view of HVAC performance management,” said Armstrong CEO Lex van der Weerd in a press release.“These advancements deliver accelerated value for our customers through energy savings, not only with the pumps but throughout the entire HVAC system.”

Getting system managers to use the technology is seen as a challenge. After reviewing a year’s worth of HVAC operating data, Armstrong research found 31% of chilled water pumps and 62% of condenser pumps had the digital controls switched off or disabled. The company estimated the estimated efficiency loss—not including the impact of reduced chiller efficiency—is 27%.

Fremont, CA.-based Delta Products Corporation also has both a Modbus and Wi-Fi-enabled power metering system. The cloud-connected pump panel enables remote monitoring and data access.

For more information about the 2018 AHR Expo, visit https://ahrexpo.com/

Bob Vavra is Content Manager for Plant Engineering at CFE Media.