Tag: BAS network

Checklist: Deciding Whether to Upgrade or Replace Building Automation Systems

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Once your current building needs have been evaluated, the next logical step is to calculate whether an upgrade or replacement will allow these needs to be met more efficiently.

1. He loves me, he loves me not:  It may sound silly, but compiling a list of the pros and cons for a replacement and for a new BAS will help you flush out the major implications for each BAS track.  Some food for thought:

  • Ease of new(er) system operation
  • Training time- in dollars AND hours
  • Maintenance expectations

 

2. Take it easy:  How easily can the upgrade be implemented? An easy upgrade path should ensure the level of functionality will be met. Lots of ‘well, you won’t be able to…” or “now you’ll have to” may mean a new system is the more efficient outfit.
3. Take it to the limit:  Evolution in the building automation field has brought immense changes to BAS capabilities. The tradeoff of  increased system performance at a lower cost has been that made many older but perfectly functioning systems are now obsolete. Many of those systems simply are not compatible with the architecture employed in new system designs, making an upgrade a clumsy option.

4. It’s not me, it’s you: Finally, it’s useful to evaluate the relationship with the vendor that supports the existing system. Vendor issues weigh heavily in the decision-making process, but be careful not to confuse the lack of vendor support with poor system performance.

 

Whether you want to upgrade or replace, tekWorx can work with any BAS system to ensure your chiller plant is operating most efficiently.  It doesn’t matter if it’s old or new, tekWorx CEO® can either replace you outdated BAS or work in a supervisory role if your BAS is in perfectly great shape.

Replacing v. Upgrading Your BAS Network

to be or not to be
To replace or not to replace…

Wondering whether it’s more practical to replace your existing building automation system or to upgrade it? Consider three major points in favor of biting the bullet and replacing your BAS.

  1.  Moore’s Law: Holding on to your old system may limit its ability to perform.  New systems have expanded capacity, capability and can streamline data readings from multiple interfaces into a single, comprehensive system. Wireless technology has helped to reduce installation costs while increasing system flexibility. New systems are often less expensive than their dated counterparts once were and much more user friendly.
  2.  In-house Integration: Depending on the life of your other functioning equipment, replacing your BAS with a newer system may allow a more robust interaction among instruments. Upgrading an existing system may bring system features and facility needs into closer alignment, but will never be as close as that of a complete replacement.
  3.  All Good Things Come to an End: Eventually, your BAS will become obsolete-the trick is to determine whether it already is. Evaluate whether the system has some life left or whether it’s best to reset the clock now before the compatibility window has been shut.

    tekWorx CEO® can optimize your chiller plant by either becoming your plant’s brand new BAS, or by simply acting in a supervisory manner to coach your existing system to operate more efficiently.

HVAC Retrofit Best Practices

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Replacing an HVAC System can become an expensive and time-consuming process with heavy potential for disruptions to normal building operations and can consume endless amounts of time if not done correctly. When putting a plant upgrade strategy together around retrofitting chilled water systems, there are 8 factors that executives should consider to ensure optimal results. tekWorx incorporates these best practices into every retrofit situation, fully addressing each factor’s influence on the overall success of the project, including in-kind replacement, new technologies, flexibility, the big picture, and program approval.

In-kind Replacement

It can be tempting to replace an outdated HVAC system with a new model that matches the criteria of the old system- if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, this approach may not solve the cooling production issues seen in the plant. During an HVAC system’ s useful life, a building can change dramatically as building space gets used for different functions than originally intended, and the size of the work force and computing equipment occupying the space fluctuates. Any retrofit strategy needs to take into account the current needs of the facility and, from a cost perspective, addressing these needs while utilizing the greatest amount of existing equipment. In doing so, a favorable payback can be achieved.

New Technologies and Flexibility

Technical updates designed to increase energy efficiency are being launched on a daily basis. From high-efficiency chillers to VFDs, everything promises better energy performance. One of the greatest advances in HVAC technologies has been BAS networks that orchestrate all aspects of the chilled water system, limiting unnecessary tweaking and manual labor.

The Big Picture and Program Approval

Companies tend to fall into the human behavior trap wherein they develop tunnel vision, focusing on a specific issue or portion of the chilled water production that seems to be causing the greatest problem. While understandable, other projects and factors affecting the cooling system operation are important to review. A simple way to do this is via an energy audit; energy audits often bring forth the real culprit of inefficiencies and shouldn’t be particularly expensive or time-consuming processes. Done well, these audits touch on the funding components and support retrofit projects holistically rather than patching components together to keep the system running.

tekWorx Approach

tekWorx takes these critical factors and more into consideration for every client. In-kind replacement is a thing of the past since tekWorx focuses on the current needs of the building and the best ways to increase overall energy efficiencies. New technologies such as PLC-based systems work with customized algorithms and VFDs to ensure that the best combination of system components are working to meet load requirements. tekWorx also places heavy emphasis on favorable paybacks (< 2yrs.), utilizing energy incentives through utility companies and government programs.

To find out how much tekWorx can save in your chilled water plant, fill our our Chiller Plant Evaluation Form.

Direct Control and Supervisory Control

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“Plant modifications”, “updates” and “conversions” are phrases that often make plant personnel nervous. Which modifications will bring about the greatest and longest lasting results? What do I have to give up to get the latest and greatest? How much is this going to disrupt the plant and my day-to-day? Will this really save energy?

tekWorx gets it. Working with complex systems that demand different automation techniques and design depending on client’s budgets, time frames, and permitted levels of disruption, tekWorx has seen it all and has you covered. Whether the system needs to be converted from manual operation to automated control or sequence updates need to be implemented for energy efficiency gains, tekWorx CEO® uses custom algorithms to improve any chilled plant’s operations.

In a world with emphasis on short paybacks, shrinking budgets, and long term environmental impacts, tekWorx engineers are practical and pragmatic experts and ensuring clients invest only in what they really need- both in engineering and equipment. As such, there are two overarching approaches in which tekWorx retrofits chilled water plants with its PLC based CEO® system.

When working with a plant that has no Building Automation System (BAS) or has a control system that is too outdated to produce the desired efficiency gains, tekWorx CEO® acts as a BAS for the entire chilled water plant; this is known as the Direct Control Engine. The CEO® then orchestrates all cooling related components (pumps, fans, cooling towers, valves, etc.), ensuring that the best combination of system components are being used to minimize kW per ton.

The second optimization approach is the Supervisory Control configuration, common when the existing BAS system (SCI, Siemens, ALC, etc.) is in good shape. In this set up, the CEO® and BAS coordinate over the plant’s BAS network to control and optimize the plant, sending real time data back and forth to ensure components are operating at maximum efficiency.

In either configuration, tekWorx uses a model to begin, but builds on that by using adaptive control algorithms that make adjustments based on actual system conditions to truly optimize chilled water production.

To find out more information on tekWorx CEO® and adaptive control for energy efficiency, fill out our Chiller Plant Evalution Form.