Many people think of HVAC technicians in the same way they think of plumbers. A blue-collar trade for individuals looking for a job that doesn’t require a college diploma. In truth, HVAC, like plumbing, is a difficult and interesting profession built on advanced physics and engineering principles. It’s hardly a leap to suggest that much of our modern way of life would be impossible without HVAC technology.
Unfortunately, despite the demonstrated effectiveness of well-designed HVAC systems, some business owners, particularly in the manufacturing industry. It is still believed HVAC is a waste of money. After all, factories are enormous facilities that require a great deal of energy to maintain a constant temperature. As a result, many factories are completely devoid of heating or cooling equipment. As a result, the indoor climate is subject to the vagaries of the environment and the types of machinery.
While this may save money in the short term. These businesses may suffer a slew of negative consequences due to their action. Fortunately, advances in digital technology have ushered in the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. Allowing manufacturers to automate their operations with granular control previously unattainable. Manufacturers may make their operations more comfortable for their workers while also saving money. By utilizing these technology developments to operate an HVAC system.
HVAC and Industry 4.0
We’ve talked about Industry 4.0 previously on this blog. Still, in a nutshell, digital technology is used to collect, analyze, and use data from every step of the production process to increase efficiency. While most people think of Smart Factories and supply chain management when they think of technology, the same technology that ensures you get the most out of your assembly line can also use to help you get the most out of your HVAC system.
⚙️ The Traditional Approach
The majority of people are familiar with some form of automated climate control. For longer than microchips have existed, thermostats have activated heating and cooling systems in reaction to temperature changes or on a timer. These old-school temperature control systems, on the other hand, only provide you with a limited amount of control over a building’s climate.
You can only put so many thermostats in a building, and their effectiveness is directly proportional to where they are placed in each room. Furthermore, they can only turn on or off heating and air conditioning systems. Which are only one component of an HVAC system. They can’t open or close windows, doors, shutters, or vents. Furthermore, if something goes wrong, there is no means of knowing what the problem is or where it is.
⚙️ Industrial PCs, Smart Sensors, and Responsive Climate Control
Compared to its older counterparts, a smart HVAC system built on the backbone of Industry 4.0 technology gives a higher level of automation and control. Digital heat and humidity sensors and thermal cameras are installed throughout the facility. Wirelessly transmit data to Industrial PCs, which evaluate the information and use it to regulate the HVAC system with unparalleled precision.
Is one half of the factory floor sweltering while the other is cool as a cucumber? The technology can direct air conditioning to only that portion of the building. Is it just because one of the machines has overheated? Instead of turning on the full air conditioning system, the system can cut off that unit and open cooling vents right above it, saving energy and money. Is it starting to get hot outside, but it’s still cool in your factory? The system can simultaneously close loading doors and windows, open-air vents, and direct reflecting panels on the roof to face the sun. It maximizes cooling without the use of air conditioning.
As you can see, the strength of digital technology allows an HVAC system to reach its full potential. The days of just setting and forgetting a thermostat are long gone.
⚙️ Predictive Maintenance and Building Automation
The beauty of Industry 4.0 is that it enables new levels of automation and makes it easier to recognize and even predict when and where problems will arise. For example, it was frequently impossible to detect if an old HVAC system was malfunctioning until far too late. Sure, if you’re careful with regular maintenance on a set schedule, you can get lucky and identify problems early. Still, most of the time, there’s no clue anything is amiss until the entire system stops working. Then, when something goes wrong, determining the exact cause of the issue is a hassle in and of itself.
On the other hand, an array of Industrial PCs captures and analyzes a steady stream of data from throughout a plant with a smart HVAC system. It can identify when something is wrong long before a human can discover anything is wrong. Is there a jammed vent in the east wing? The system will already know which one it is before you do. Is it possible that an exhaust fan is vibrating excessively? The system will detect this, and you will be notified as well. The system will use the data it collects to inform you of the exact position and type of the problem BEFORE it becomes catastrophic, regardless of where it occurs.
⚙️ Savings and Sustainability
You may reach new levels of energy efficiency with the unprecedented level of control and self-optimization that Industry 4.0 technology can offer to an HVAC system. You won’t have to waste money by running the air conditioner or heater when you don’t need to. All of this means that you save money on the system and reduce the system’s carbon impact, which is critical as we enter an uncertain environmental future.
HVAC also makes it easier to work in your factory. Workers’ overall productivity and job satisfaction rise when they don’t labor in triple-digit heat or sub-freezing cold for long periods. This produces a positive feedback loop, in which improved production leads to increased job satisfaction.
All of these variables, combined with unrivaled predictive maintenance capabilities, mean that a smart HVAC system may save you money in the long run while also increasing revenues. Incredibly, something innovative could accomplish with just a few carefully positioned digital sensors and Industrial PCs.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can combine the power of Industry 4.0 with HVAC technology. Reach out to Cleverativity‘s industrial computer experts today!