10/02/2013

Continuous commissioning: technology improves the present by predicting the future.

 

This article is sponsored by Johnson Controls. Visit their website.

Imagine two identical cars. Same make, model, mileage and operating conditions. Car #1 is taken to a mechanic once a year for maintenance - more often, if serious problems arise. Car #2 has a mechanic who rides along every mile, looking, listening and anticipating problems that could affect performance—before they become problems. As a result, Car #2 performs better, has fewer problems and costs less to maintain.

This is the principal behind continuous commissioning, a new approach to equipment maintenance made possible by the technology of the Panoptix® platform from Johnson Controls.

When equipment is new, it undergoes general commissioning- a process that ensures that it is installed and set up to perform at its best. Over time, wear and tear take their inevitable toll, and performance begins to slip. Performance reductions might be barely noticeable at first, but they almost always degrade further, which can adversely affect both occupant comfort and energy efficiency.

Maintenance schedules provided by manufacturers help, but often buildings need to undergo retro commissioning, a general overhaul designed to return systems to optimum performance. Retro commissioning can expensive, and is sometimes an unwelcome intrusion into the lives of building occupants.

Continuous commissioning offers a better option. Sometimes called “predictive commissioning,” it’s a process in which systems are constantly monitored for deviations from optimal performance. These deviations are called faults. They’re the early warning system that predicts future problems and allow facility managers to address those problems before they occur.

Fault Detection and Diagnostics is one of the requirements of continuous commissioning, and it is proved by the Panoptix® Continuous Diagnostics Advisor (CDA) app from Johnson Controls. CDA automatically collects and analyzes building data, as opposed to the manual processes required in the past. When you combine its capabilities with those of another Panoptix app called Custom Analyzer (CA), you have the foundation of continuous commissioning.

Together, these apps identify and investigate faults and prioritize them according to their impact on operations. Or budget. Or occupant comfort. When equipment life is extended and facilities are running at peak performance- you save energy, money, and valuable work hours.

Sounds great, right? But does it work in real-life situations? Ask Mark Peterson, Senior Controls Engineer at the University of Minnesota, who used CDA and CA apps on campus to achieve 6.5% energy savings in one building and 8% in another. These savings were attributed entirely to his facility team having addressed faults identified by Panoptix.

Talk to Mickey Rochelle, Facilities Manager for the Town of Wake Forest, NC, who used Panoptix CDA and CA apps to troubleshoot problems in an under-performing building. A new town hall was built in 2010 with a priority on energy efficiency and sustainability. In fact, it received a U.S. Green Building Council LEED® Platinum Certification, yet was using more energy than the 1970s era building it had replaced. It’s an on-going process, but so far, Panoptix apps have uncovered a number of issues that have led to significant savings and prevented larger expenses from occurring.

Listen to Dale Dyer, Plant Operations Manager at Western Kentucky University, whose staff members had been trying to manually track campus-wide energy usage since 2007, but were limited because the effort was too labor intensive. So Dale used Panoptix apps for continuous commissioning. Within 120 days, CDA had detected numerous building faults, which his staff was able to quickly address, heading off problems before they impacted the bottom line. In less than six months, his Panoptix investment had paid for itself.

As predicted, the future is here.

 

 
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