The Internet of Things (IoT) presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to reduce buildings’ energy use. HVAC infrastructure connected via the IoT can be automated, maximising device efficiency. And according to a UN report, action is needed quickly as a study has found that globally, buildings contribute 40% to energy-related CO2 emissions.
Automation software offers a solution to reduce that figure. In fact, automation has been predicted to reduce energy costs by up to 70% and global CO2 emissions by 34 million metric tons. With climate change, net zero regulations, and rising energy prices facing all businesses, optimised HVAC infrastructure control is now more important than ever.
Programmable logic controller (PLC) software is ideal to automate HVAC, refrigeration, lighting, security, and any other device that can be connected via the IoT. It gives facility managers full control of devices, it runs automatically once set up, and can be configured in an infinite number of ways to suit business requirements.
How To Implement PLC Software
The benefits of PLC software are clear, but how is it implemented? Following a few easy steps simplifies the setup and ensures targets are achieved.
Establishing a clear goal
Why is automation software being implemented at this specific facility? Whether the aim is to reduce energy costs, improve operational processes, or optimise device functionality, a clear goal is necessary to formulate a targeted strategy and maximise the benefits of automation software.
Once the overall goal has been determined, individual business areas need to be scrutinised. That includes looking at a breakdown of energy consumption, equipment downtime, occupancy levels, or any other relevant business factors.
Designing a PLC strategy
A range of options is available to create strategies to achieve the established goals. Options include text strings and ladder systems, and the most common object/logic block-based platforms.
Object/logic block-based solutions allow users to create strategies by dragging objects onto a blank page and connecting them via an array of rules, math or function-specific blocks. It’s easy to create and read strategies using this method.
Reviewing a strategy’s success
Testing a PLC strategy is essential to understand if everything will work as planned. Good PLC programs provide a simulation function that allows users to artificially dictate values to gauge the impact they have on the program when it is in operation.
After the software has been in operation, it’s essential to review if targets are being met by capturing and analysing data from the building’s control infrastructure.
Case Studies - Proven Energy & Cost Savings with PLC Software
When devising PLC strategies, it can be helpful to look at what others have achieved to spark ideas for how to create savings. RDM customers from many different industries who have implemented our PLC software TDB, have achieved substantial energy savings and streamlined their operating processes.
Malaysian Hospital Achieves 51% Energy Savings
After installing new HVAC equipment and introducing PLC software to control all air handling units, a Malaysian hospital achieved 51% energy savings per year.
28% Energy Reduction for Small Scale Supermarket
A small Australian supermarket, operating only one store, achieved a 28% reduction in yearly electricity consumption after refitting the store and introducing a PLC strategy to optimise the management of assets.
Simple Software Adjustment Saves Energy Use
A UK retail chain reduced its energy usage by 34% across an estate of over 400 stores after installing new lighting and control processes that were then written into the PLC system’s control strategy.
In addition to programming PLC software to control all HVAC and lighting assets, a small, simple adjustment contributed significantly to the energy and cost savings. A logic was created within the PLC software that switched off all non-essential equipment once the intruder alarm is set to on when the last member of staff leaves the store.
Reduced Refrigerant Volumes for Cheese Manufacturer
After installing a high-tech refrigeration plant controlled by fully customised PLC software, a UK-based cheese manufacturer achieved 30% energy savings and reduced the environmental impact by lowering refrigerant volumes. In this case, PLC software was set up to control the refrigeration system down to a fine level of detail which illustrates how much can be achieved when PLC strategies are included in the smallest details of an organisation.
Our whitepaper on BMS Automation provides a more in-depth discussion of PLC software and more details on how to set it up to maximise its benefits.
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