The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a buzzword word in today is world of data. It is said that, now data is more precious than oil. Data can help you to expand the business, customer reach, product quality and productivity etc.
As per definition: IoT is the network of devices, vehicles, and home appliances that contain electronics, software, actuators, and connectivity which allows these things to connect, interact and exchange data.
In HVACR, IoT means extending Internet connectivity to non-Internet devices to get the data and in future do the automated analytics to get more insight into the HVACR equipment operating efficiency.
At present IoT is utilised in HVACR sector to detect any anomaly with the help of technique like AFDD (Automated Fault Detection and Diagnostic).
Application of IoT in HVACR
For long time, HVACR equipment were operated and maintained by site engineers based on the physical or Building Automation system (BAS) data. The physical data like equipment operating data log sheet are used to evaluate the equipment and operational efficiency. The BAS engineers are responsible to monitor and analyse the BAS data and make necessary corrections if any issue identified.
Now, the trend is changed with the arrival of IoT technologies. IoT is enabling to get the data remotely and analyse it with automated technology to detect any anomaly. This is leading to quick decision making and helping the operators in preventive maintenance.
What is the transformation?
The major transformation with the rise of IoT is, HVACR equipment are now less dependent individual human. The remote data and automated data analysis are helping the building owners to get informative about what happening in a building. The mode of communications also enhances by automated alarm or alert over mail or phone within a second after or before the event occurs (in case forecasting).
At present most of the HVACR as well as IT companies are having solution in the building efficiency sector based on IoT technology. These solutions are based on few graphical dashboards and AFDD. But this may not fulfil the absolute level of requirement by HVACR sector. Thus, we need to go beyond these simple techniques. The new area which need more research is Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI can give more strong result on detecting the anomalies in building utilisation and equipment level. This will also largely minimise the human interference.
Let us consider a situation like low chiller efficiency to understand the AI requirement. There are many reasons for this like part load operation, low ambient, condenser and evaporator poor efficiency etc. To find out the reason for the particular issue, we need to start with the chiller and end with the end-user like AHU. With simple process we can find out the issues in individual areas and its need human interference to find out the root cause. Now if the entire solution needs to be provided by the automated FDD tool, we need to use AI.
To develop complete AI tool, we need to implement multidisciplinary techniques. These techniques are like mathematical and statistical method to be used for data normalisation, data sanity etc. Thus, cross functional team is required to develop more efficient analytical tool.
The future of HVACR industry is to be energy efficient and self-operated system. The present technologies available are enough to achieve this goal. But it requires more details analytical approach to establish the relationships with all equipment (chiller, pump, cooling tower, AHU, FCU and VAV etc.), building demand (based on occupancy, orientation envelop and material), outdoor condition and building schedule.
The holistic effort toward making AI based HVACR analytical tool is the need of the hour. Using AI to fill in gaps where some type of oversight or referral from human experts are still required.