Why Predictive Maintenance and Remote Service Tools Are the Next Big Thing in the World of HVAC
By Roy Muchtar · August 10, 2020
In traditional service contracts, equipment ‘health’ and performance are verified and fine-tuned mainly through pre-scheduled, periodic maintenance check-up routines. This is known as a Preventive Maintenance model. Manufacturers prescribe a fixed maintenance schedule and, assuming all routines are followed, the customer should expect HVAC performance according to the spec.
The Downsides to the Preventive Maintenance model
The problem with this model is that not all environments are ‘born’ equal. What works for a clean building area would not necessarily fit a heavy industrial dusty environment. Using a formula that addresses the average case can result in doing excessive maintenance activity on less stressed equipment, and vice versa, insufficient maintenance on tougher cases that would be needed to assure optimal operation.
Introducing Predictive Maintenance via Continuous Monitoring – A More Efficient Model
Digitalization and remote connectivity provide a new model of “Predictive Maintenance”. This involves Continuous Monitoring of equipment to detect performance inferences early while they are still minor. This can allow early repair or problem investigation before they deteriorate. In many cases, this prevents downtime and can significantly reduce the cost of repair.
Predictive Maintenance Provides an Insurance Layer in-between Visits
Predictive maintenance does not replace the preventive scheduled maintenance activity. Rather, it provides another layer of ‘insurance’ for the period between scheduled maintenance visits. It allows ‘spreading’ the maintenance visits ‘a bit’ and enables better scheduling of the maintenance site visits based on the actual status of equipment – making visits more effective by ensuring technicians arrive equipped with the right tools, parts, and skill-sets.
Continuous Monitoring enables immediate alerts on equipment generated errors/faults. It allows access to all the technical parameters of the system required to remotely troubleshoot a faulty system with automatic ‘watchdogs’, running in the background, analyzing performance trends, and alerting when trends go out of normal range (also known as system anomalies).
Let’s take an example of a basic automatic routine that monitors the rate in which the room temp reaches the setpoint. In most cases, if the setpoint is not reached within a reasonable time, it may indicate some underperformance of the system. Various reasons can be the cause: refrigerant leak, clogged filters, malfunctioning thermistors, and others. Putting your finger on the actual cause requires analysis. Some of this can be done using remote service tools, some may require a physical check. But, as long as the problem is unresolved, the comfort level is affected, equipment is stressed in order to compensate, and this may decrease the components’ lifespan or increase repair costs. Energy consumption will also be increased. From this example, the potential benefits of having this single continuous monitoring tool on overall customer value is clear.
When Choosing an HVAC System, Choose a Reliable Service Provider
When choosing an HVAC system, the main objectives for the end customer are optimal comfort, energy consumption, and product longevity. Selecting reliable equipment together with a reliable and professional service provider, who implements predictive maintenance practices through continuous monitoring, will assure these objectives are achieved in an optimal cost-effective manner.
The CoolAutomation Service Provision solution helps service providers offer predictive maintenance through remote service tools and continuous monitoring, globally. Contact us for more information about our solution portfolio.