Industrial facilities with hazardous airborne contaminants, and plants in which incremental changes in temperature and humidity affect output and quality, must operate under tightly controlled environmental conditions. Wireless technology, the Internet and standards for interoperability support these operating imperatives by enabling more efficient, accurate and cost-effective monitoring of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems.
What is driving the demand for wireless and Internet technology? Building fabrication can make hardwiring impractical. Concrete, brick or temporary walls can limit the ability to run cables, and dedicated phone lines are costly to install and maintain. Hardwired systems have gradually become overshadowed by wireless solutions.
The Internet brings another dimension to wireless technology. Remote monitoring, for example, previously required dedicated phone lines for each monitored asset, along with manned call centers. Disruptions were often reported long after they occurred. Now, "smart" sensor data can be transmitted through the Internet to virtually any Web-enabled device.
How does Internet access improve operations?
* Web-based connectivity allows the mobile field force to react to irregular conditions immediately.
* HVAC monitoring can be managed at the enterprise level, from a single location, under a central management system.
* If that system supports open communication standards, equipment from a variety of manufacturers can be monitored from the same system.
* Enhanced visibility of real-time performance can be leveraged to improve maintenance programs and maximize operating efficiency.
How is this new technology being applied in a building environment? For example, Johnson Controls' wireless room-temperature sensing system helps facilities managers remotely monitor and control room temperature.
Notifact LLC's wireless monitoring system enables real-time monitoring of HVAC/R equipment and delivers alerts via pager, fax, e-mail, PDA or phone.
Honeywell leverages Web-based open communication standards such as BACnet and LonWorks in its Building Manager application. The system provides central access to and control of disparate building subsystems, such as HVAC monitoring and control, lighting, power and energy management. These systems communicate in a common language, so trends can be analyzed and more precise control strategies can be implemented.
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E-mail Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, Additive Communications, at Sheila@addcomm.com.