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FEATURE MONITORING & CONTROL


THE INTERNET of THINGS TAKES CONTROL


Eight years on from the Climate Change Act, it is clear work still needs to be done if we are to achieve the UK’s legally binding target to reduce carbon emissions by 80% from the 1990 baseline by 2050. Tim Bound, director for Transtherm Cooling Industries, looks at how the Internet of Things can play its part in improving the efficiency of non-domestic buildings


T


here are 1.8million non-domestic buildings in the UK, responsible for


around 18% of our total carbon emissions, according to the Carbon Trust, so it is clear that commercial and industrial sectors have a large part to play in meeting the stringent emissions targets that have been set. There are of course many ways of controlling carbon emissions, but the new kid on the block is definitely the Internet of Things IoT). For many businesses looking to lower their carbon consumption, the shift towards the ultimate in control and monitoring is still seen as a bit of a fad, but it is much more than that - it is a revolution in connectivity. Literally speaking, it refers to a network of “things” – whether equipment, plans, appliances or even people – embedded with technology which allows them to communicate with each other to deliver sustainability, cost efficiencies and other benefits. A report by Gartner says there will be 4.9


billion connected ‘things’ worldwide by the end of this year, rising to 25 billion by 2020. In the home, this could mean your fridge telling you that you’re out of milk because your espresso machine has just used the last drop, or your alarm clock going off earlier than expected because your car’s GPS system has identified traffic on your route to work. However, the Internet of Things has not become a trillion dollar industry purely for the convenience of home owners. In industry, especially factories, data centres, hospitals and other heavy users of energy, the same technology is already contributing to significant energy (and cost) savings through improved control and visibility of buildings - and the equipment within them. Numerous studies have attempted to


predict the potential reduction in carbon emissions that could be achieved by the Internet of Things, with some claiming the figure could be as high as 19%. Whatever the figure, one thing is clear - with the right support, promotion and direction, the Internet of Things can certainly make a


14 WINTER 2015 | ENERGY MANAGEMENT


significant contribution towards the efficiency targets that have been set.


APPLYING TO INDUSTRY The Internet of Things has signalled a shift in the way operators, energy managers, facilities managers and even manufacturers consider the efficiency of their equipment. The traditional focus was on maximising the energy efficiency of single products or systems, whether that system delivers cooling, heating, air conditioning, IT, lighting or other. Ten years ago, if the parameters of a cooling system could be adjusted to improve efficiency and cut costs without affecting output, it was done with little consideration for other appliances. Today, however, such changes are


increasingly being considered within a chain reaction to give a holistic, ‘whole building’ approach to sustainability. In some cases for example, it may be beneficial to make one piece of equipment


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Fan dry versus coolers with coil protection mesh


work harder in order to deliver greater savings further down the chain.


MAXIMISING RESULTS With this in mind, leading manufacturers like Transtherm are increasingly integrating PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) into their products to enable better communication with other appliances and the overall building management system. The first step of course, is to seek out those suppliers who are already ahead of the game and in many cases it is possible to retrofit systems with innovative control systems that can enable remote monitoring and asset management. Transtherm’s future-proof control systems, for example, complement a full range of dry coolers, adiabatic coolers, free coolers, air cooled condensers and pump sets. However, for the best results it is


important to ensure close communication between all parts of the building infrastructure as early as possible in your project. One of the biggest barriers to improving energy efficiency remains the fact that too many companies don’t understand other systems well enough and that doesn’t just mean a technological interaction between appliances – it’s a human interaction too.


DEVICE INTEROPERABILITY Manufacturers and specifiers of related products must work closely right from the initial design stage to establish the optimum conditions for the building as a whole. A simple example would be the interaction between a water cooled chiller and an air blast cooler used to cool its condenser water loop. By lowering the condenser water temperature the air blast cooler will have to work harder and will consume more electricity as a result. However, this will, in turn, improve the chiller efficiency. By analysing the effect this change has on the chiller, which produces the building’s air conditioning supply, it could mean greater savings overall. More than anything else, the Internet of


Things enables us to think outside of silos and consider the chain reaction. If that insight can highlight the potential for overall energy reductions, then the benefits are clear to see.


Transtherm Cooling Industries www.transtherm.co.uk 024 7647 1120


/ ENERGYMANAGEMENT


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