How bad could it be? A Case for Fault Detection!
If my Air Handler can maintain discharge air temperature and pressure, how bad could any issue really be?
If my Air Handler is heating and cooling at the same time, if the equipment can maintain occupant comfort, and I haven’t received any complaints, is there really an issue?
Any mechanically generated cooling or heating has a cost associated with it. Any effort to remedy a problem also has a cost. Reconciling the two is not always as simple as just fixing everything that’s not perfect. The best solutions/remedies are the ones that can be implemented without taking any extra time and at a minimal cost. Recently, during one of my ongoing FCXperience meetings with the Energy Manager and Engineering Manager of a hospital campus, I had the pleasure of presenting a costly energy issue with a “no cost” solution!
The Air Handler is designed with a freeze protection sequence designed to protect the hot water and chilled water coils when the mixed air temperature is below 40°F. When the MAT is below 40°F, the preheat coil opens fully and the face/bypass damper modulates to provide the appropriate discharge air temperature. FCX’ (FacilityConneX) fault detection analytics highlighted that the preheat coil and chilled water coil were opening at the same time. Someone had inadvertently, months and months ago (potentially years ago) modified the adjustable 40°F freeze protection setpoint to 55°F. Each time the air handler would economize to control the DAT using free cooling, the preheat valve would open. Because the chilled water coil wasn’t interlocked with the freeze protection, it would cool the heated air before the face/bypass damper could begin tempering the air.
FCX offers a software platform with continuous monitoring and streaming fault detection & diagnosis analytics to help prioritization and optimization recommendations. At a glance, we were able to see the FCX Opportunity Savings (Avoidable Costs) prioritized by the worst offender. The energy cost for this one issue (for the month of January alone) was well over $1,000. By listening to the Voice of the Equipment, we were able to confidently prioritize the right issue, from the right piece of equipment. 30 minutes into our FCXperience meeting, the Engineering Manager was able to log onto the Building Management System and adjust the freeze protection setpoint back to the designed 40°F. Before the 1 hour FCXperience meeting was over, and only by adjusting the single setpoint, the Air Handler was able to utilize the free cooling from the outside air and save our customer a lot of money! Finding Savings that are invisible to the people who support the equipment and not identified with a BMS, and with $0.00 corrective action costs, is definitely a home run!
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