If a single component of an HVACR system that uses proprietary protocols fails, other units within the system, units that are still functioning perfectly well, often need to be replaced as well. In this interview, Chris Edwards, Technical Application Specialist at Resource Data Management (RDM), discusses how an alternative approach allows replacing only the failing component, reducing embodied carbon in the process.

Why do units that are perfectly fine need to be replaced?

We do not have an answer to this question, because we do not agree with this practice that is unfortunately too common in the industry. Instead, we are doing things differently.

If a single component of an HVACR system fails, we replace this single component and leave other, well-functioning units in peace. This goes back to one of the founding principles of RDM: reducing waste and preserving valuable resources.

Replacing well-functioning equipment is expensive and creates unnecessary waste. It also requires resources to build the redundant replacement unit. For companies that are working towards achieving net zero, this is more bad news as it increases the company’s embodied carbon footprint.

Chris Edwards, Technical Applications Specialist at RDM, has worked on many projects that have delivered savings for clients and reduced their carbon footprint by using the single-unit replacement strategy. He discusses how this has worked in practice:

“Businesses across industries have benefitted from our strategy. Especially because it is possible to replace units at any point in the system, whether that is an air handling unit, a controller managing the heating, or the control system front-end, over the years we have replaced units at any point in the HVAC infrastructure.

“Using this strategy, businesses only need to purchase a replacement when necessary, saving costs and reducing their carbon footprint.”

Some facility managers might now ask how we do this. At their facility, they have units from multiple manufacturers in their system and those units are refusing to talk to each other. How would introducing another manufacturer’s equipment solve their problem of a single-unit failure without causing problems in the whole system?

We do have the answer to this question: our control and monitoring solutions are based on open protocols. This means our products can communicate with the existing ones and serve as a translator between the third-party products that are so far not talking to each other. PLC software TDB can then be used to create a control strategy that efficiently manages the HVAC infrastructure.

The result: a well-tailored control and monitoring strategy that encompasses the entire HVACR system and that can be controlled from one central front-end system.

Using an open protocol solution offers another advantage: future-proofing the system.

“When exploring possible solutions,” Mr Edwards explains, “I ask clients to look at not just their requirements for today but also consider the ability to adjust and expand the system in the future without being locked into manufacture-set upgrade paths.

“This is important; even on low-energy sites we have been able to add fantastic improvements in comfort, control, and visibility while still achieving an ROI of less than four years.”

In today’s climate, it is even more important than ever to preserve resources and work towards achieving net zero. Keeping equipment until the end of its lifespan and setting up a control strategy that manages all units, regardless of manufacturer, is one easy step businesses can take to keep costs low and reduce their impact on the environment.