How-To Keep Your Cool During an Unexpected HVAC Outage

08/11/2016 |

This is especially true for the booming billion dollar hospitality industry where according to a recent Deloitte report, occupancy demand will double by 2018. However, older hotel buildings increasingly require routine maintenance to sustain operations. So what to do when your warmer-climate destination hotel incurs issues with its vital cooling system and must go offline in order to make repairs? Many hotels are turning to temporary cooling solutions as their plan B.

A hotel’s ability to respond to an unexpected HVAC disruption in the heat of the moment is vital to its financial success and competitiveness. Contingency planning should be a mandatory element of operations management, not an afterthought. By planning ahead and leveraging a temporary cooling provider to mitigate HVAC downtime, hotel managers can improve their balance sheet by avoiding high-cost capital expenditure (CAPEX) commitments on short- to mid-term duration needs.

An effective contingency plan requires working knowledge of the facility’s daily needs, its current equipment, and who to call in an emergency. Work with a temporary cooling provider as part of the contingency planning process to ensure chillers, cooling towers and air conditioners can be placed very quickly during an unexpected outage and meet immediate cooling system requirements. However, it is also important the provider also understands how to engineer a system that seamlessly ties into the existing cooling process and can match equipment specific to the environmental demand. Each hotel’s cooling system is unique and has different needs should, for example, they be water-cooled or air-cooled…there is no such thing as one-size fits all.

For one major resort hotel in the Bahamas, a facility that on a daily basis hosts hundreds of visitors and enacts thousands of business transactions, their cooling solution comprising two 450-ton chillers required replacement due to an outage in the supporting unit. Unfortunately, before the replacement unit could arrive, the primary unit also shut down…causing the destination hotel and its guests to heat up to 94˚ F.

Due to the lack of a proactive contingency plan and the remote island location of the hotel where a temporary cooling source was not immediately available, the facility had to refund or find other arrangements for their guests, resulting in significant revenue losses and increased risk for reputation damage.

Engineers from Aggreko were secured and responded within 72 hours to assess the cooling demand, quickly design a solution and install a temporary system using one 400-ton air-cooled chiller that matched the hotel’s current needs. However, the project faced some challenges as the hotel thought the system could be powered by its own 800 Amp breaker, which turned out to be only a 600 Amp breaker and failed shortly after the install. Acting nimbly, Aggreko successfully reengineered its unit to match the power available until the customer found a solution.

The custom design proved effective and ensured the non-stop delivery of cool air into the hotel until the original replacement unit arrived, allowing the facility to reopen its doors, welcome guests and ramp-up operations.

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