Skip to content

National HVAC Tech Day

RajanRajendran2 Rajan Rajendran | V.P., System Innovation Center and Sustainability

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Summertime has arrived, bringing with it warmer temperatures and sunshine. The kids are home from school. Vacations are in the works. Everyone seems to be in a better mood — until your air conditioning unit fails, causing both temperatures and tensions to rise in the house.

Situations like this happen to everyone at some point in their lives and help to remind us that our homes, businesses, etc. aren’t cooled by some form of magic; they’re cooled by a piece of machinery that needs to be installed and, in cases like this, fixed by an HVAC technician.

293-P-Contractor_Thumbs_Up_4531626-FB

It’s easy to take things like air conditioning for granted. But it only takes one incident, like the one mentioned above, to bring us back down to Earth and help us appreciate not only the advancement of cooling technology but the HVAC technicians who help keep the AC running when we need it the most.

It’s crucial on this National HVAC Tech Day that we appreciate everything that HVAC technicians do to make our lives a little more comfortable. It is also an opportunity to address the elephant in the room regarding an alarming national trend: the industry’s HVACR technician shortage.

This problem is particularly concerning in the field of commercial refrigeration, where an aging workforce with tribal knowledge of more complex refrigeration systems threatens to leave a vacuum of qualified service technicians. It is estimated that by 2022, the U.S. will need 115,000 HVACR technicians to fill industry jobs[1].

One solution that we’ve discussed at length is encouraging our nation’s youth to take advantage of apprenticeship programs. These programs are typically funded by outside resources, eliminating student loans. In addition, due to the shortage, students are essentially guaranteed employment and a fast track to leadership upon finishing their apprenticeship program.

Conversely, for those students taking the traditional college education route, there are more than 44 million student loan borrowers, with each accumulating an average debt of $37,1721 — with no guarantee of a job or steady salary upon graduation.

The technician shortage reminds us on National HVAC Tech Day how important this vocation is. Take the time to thank a technician for their hard work and dedication in a rather underappreciated industry. It’s also a good day to raise awareness among younger students seeking an alternative to a four-year degree who desire job security and the ability to make a difference in people’s lives.

[1] https://www.achrnews.com/articles/136053-amending-the-apprentice-act?v=preview

The Human Equation of Facility Management

Michael Newman Michael Newman | Director, Human Centered Design

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

With growing industry interests in facility management and how building automation can benefit facility managers, we decided to shed a spotlight on the topic at our 2017 E360 Annual Conference. To hear more about today’s trends and how you can apply them to your facility, click here.

The human Equation of Facility Management

In the past, facility management was often a service that companies would handle in-house. As many companies have ever-expanding footprints, they’ve found it more challenging to manage the facility aspects — which has resulted in more outsourced facility management. Studies show that approximately 14 percent growth is expected in residential and commercial building population, meaning more buildings need to be managed. And let’s not forget that as outsourced facility management is in the upswing, there is a requirement to manage more contracts on a much broader scale with ever-decreasing resources, compounding the situation. The market is growing increasingly complex, and facility managers are facing an array of new issues. These include:

  • Generating more cost savings
  • Managing environmental concerns
  • A shrinking amount of necessary resources
  • The growing technician shortage

Building automation can help alleviate these problems. With the goal of efficient response, operators need to build the abilities to recognize problems, sensory processing, perception, decision-making and response capabilities into systems. If buildings can gather all of this information and feed it back to facility managers, these managers will have a more holistic understanding of the performance across their entire operation.

However, this data and information are useless if they can’t be interpreted or used correctly. As facility management becomes more complex, it’s important to focus designs and algorithms that are user-friendly, easy to understand and logical. One way to keep facility managers from experiencing information overload is to work toward automating management systems, allowing the technology to fully interpret the situation before setting off an alarm or alerting an operator.

The goal of building and system automation is not to replace humans. As technology evolves, so do our jobs. Automation simply allows operators to interact with new systems and gain access to extensive data. Automation allows for predictive and preventative maintenance, enabling the system to analyze data and predict exactly when and where it will need maintenance.

This kind of software allows us to more efficiently concentrate our efforts on problems and helps eliminate complexity, surfacing what’s important when it matters. For a more comprehensive look into facility management and building automation and what trends could be on the horizon, be sure to watch the full presentation here

Recommissioning to Boost Energy Savings

Commissioning and/or recommissioning your site could completely change the way your business operates and save you thousands of dollars — all while also providing environmental benefits. Make sure to watch the full video here for a more detailed analysis.

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, Food Retail Marketing and Growth                                                        Strategy, Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

A few years ago, Emerson paired with Darren Cooper and the Renteknik Group to assist a supermarket chain in determining which parts of their business were costing them the most, both financially and in terms of energy use. The project’s objective was to recommission a 20-year-old system by adding an adiabatic-type condenser and variable-capacity compressors, in this case Digital Discus™ compressors.

293-P-Equipment_Gauges_shutterstock_142260868_FB

It’s important to first understand the goals of commissioning and decommissioning. In simple terms, commissioning is a quality-oriented process designed to ensure that a building, facility or system is designed, constructed and operated to meet the owner’s project requirements (OPR). Recommissioning refers to the process of commissioning a building that has already been commissioned to verify that its systems are still functioning according to their original designs.

The test site is located in southern Ontario and was built in 1991, occupying 42,000 square feet. An emerging industry trend is taking advantage of incentive programs associated with energy efficiency. At the time, Ontario’s incentive program offered 10 cents per kilowatt/hour saved; currently, the incentives are even higher.

After building a kilowatt consumption profile based on averages taken for each ambient condition, we began recommissioning with a focus on low- or no-cost service and maintenance. Then, we began the second phase of the project and determined just how poorly the system’s old condensers were performing.

What we discovered was that the supermarket had developed some unconventional workarounds. To keep the condensers cool during warmer months and prevent overheating, facility operators were spraying them with garden hoses. We determined that the easiest and most efficient way to solve this problem was to install an adiabatic system with misting nozzles to keep the condensers cool without having to run massive amounts of water through the garden hoses. We had an ambient temperature sensor set at 73 degrees Fahrenheit with a contactor on a fan that would activate the mister if a condenser reached a temperature warmer than that threshold.

The final phase of the project involved upgrading to variable-capacity digital compressors, which would allow for better load control and energy savings. In total, the site saw energy consumption reduced by about 30 percent, generating massive cost savings as well as reducing CO2 emissions. These three phases also resulted in less downtime and less potential spoilage of product due to equipment properly operating. In fact, nuisance alarms at the site were reduced by about 66 percent. In terms of the bottom line, the site cut its operational annual expenses by about $35,000 and, with incentives, payback can be achieved in less than a year.

The Case for Outdoor Condensing Units

benpicker Ben Picker | Product Manager – Copeland Condensing Units

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Restaurant and convenience store landscapes are facing unprecedented market pressures and increasing demands to meet consumer expectations. Consumers are seeking fresh, sustainably sourced food offerings from providers that emphasize eco-friendly practices from farm to fork. Pair those demands with pressure to reduce operating expenses while also maintaining regulatory compliance and you have a stressful situation.

The case for outdoor condensing units.png

Making the move toward outdoor condensing units (OCUs) may be able to alleviate some of that stress. Modern OCUs can help solve a myriad of operational challenges and are emerging as a preferred option for store and enterprise operators.

Compared to legacy OCUs, modern remote systems can deliver annual efficiency improvements of up to 20 percent or more. Modern OCUs can also create a better, more desirable indoor environment for consumers, improving indoor comfort levels by lightening the load on air conditioning (AC) systems, reducing refrigeration noise, and reclaiming space that would be occupied by a centralized rack.

Modern OCUs are engineered to address today’s regulatory challenges as well, maximizing energy efficiencies and meeting the requirements set by the Department of Energy (DOE). These OCUs also utilize low-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants and keep refrigerant charges to a minimum.

With built-in compressor electronics, modern OCUs provide operators with peace of mind knowing that their equipment is functioning properly and reliably. System faults are immediately communicated to service technicians to help them quickly — and remotely — diagnose conditions and expedite the service process. Advanced diagnostics and smart algorithms, connected to a facility management/control system, provide operators and technicians with early detection alerts, evaluate key performance indicators, help prevent compressor failure and more.

While there are clear and present benefits to using modern OCUs, there are still considerations to be made before making the switch. Physical constraints are typically prevalent when determining whether to invest in OCUs. Some examples of these constraints are: installation in a leased building where drilling holes in the wall/ceiling is prohibited; unachievable access to the outside for remote installation; and difficulty moving equipment in an inflexible layout. There are also cost considerations to be made, such as whether low first costs or lower total cost of ownership are more important.

Sustainability targets, total store energy usage and regulatory compliance are all important factors in the modern refrigeration equation. Modern OCUs can deliver on all these factors, including enhanced reliability, improved installation flexibility, protection against system failures and much more. All of these benefits add up to a lower total cost of ownership compared to other traditional refrigeration methods.

The case for modern OCUs is strong and could take your operation to the next level.

Understanding Your EMS and Identifying Trends on the Horizon

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Squeezing the most efficiency out of your energy management system (EMS) can be a pivotal part of your operation. Many store and franchise operators are only using around 10–20 percent of the overall power of their EMS. Optimizing your systems and getting your “money’s worth” out of your EMS can reduce energy and maintenance costs and potentially lower energy consumption.

Understanding Your EMS and Identifying Trends on the Horizon

To fully understand what an EMS does and how it can benefit you, a helpful comparison can be made by looking at the progression of automotive technologies. For example, today we are accustomed to our cars nearly being able to drive themselves (some can). That evolution began as industry leaders started incorporating electronics into vehicles to benefit drivers — things like an analog braking system that was connected to engine control modules which were connected to traction control systems. Manufacturers are blending these systems together, improving communication and thereby optimizing vehicles.

An EMS, essentially, follows the same sort of ideology, tying together key systems and the architectural layers of your operation. These start with the control layer, where electronics take sensor inputs and determine what actions to take with that information (turning on/off compressors, fans, etc.). Next, the supervisory layer handles things like data logging, bringing the data from different systems together and storing it for you to evaluate and analyze over a given time frame (days, weeks, months, etc.) — and generating alarms for anomalies and other problems.

Finally, the remote layer, or remote system, is a software platform (or something similar) that communicates with your on-site equipment and gathers data that you can view via a remote user interface to see trends in your operations. Obviously, this is key to your ability to manage all this information from a location away from your actual operation.

As your EMS continually collects data, it is important for you to make the most of that data and understand how your EMS can help you identify trends and improve the way your facility operates. Optimizing your EMS grants you visibility into what’s happening at any particular site within your building/enterprise. Average operational expenses for a supermarket are incredibly high, so knowing how to interpret data provided by an EMS allows you to solve your problems quickly and efficiently.

Several trends regarding smart buildings and EMS technology have emerged in recent years, including: building energy management hitting the “cloud,” increased demand for smart building products, the convergence of building communications protocols, and the blurring of the interface between smart buildings and the smart grid. These trends tend to drive innovation in four key areas: user interface and usability, integration, cloud connectivity, and extensibility and apps.

For a more in-depth look at what an EMS can offer your operation and to hear more trends, be sure to watch the full presentation here.

%d bloggers like this: