The Role of Automated Fault Detection and Diagnostics in Energy Management

April 6, 2018 James Walton

Although Energy Manager Today reports that automated fault detection and diagnostics have been around in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems for 20 years, the technology is now advancing. By analyzing equipment data, new analytics and facilities management software are able to identify relationships between variables and to recognize when a problem exists. Such findings, called facilities management metrics, indicate when a problem occurs or may be on the horizon.  Analyzing the gathered metrics can provide information on potential faults, prior to them occurring and being able to be detected; automating the process could have additional benefits beyond minimizing disruptions, including achieving better energy management. Facilities mangers need to understand how this capability translates into better energy management.

What Is Automated Fault Detection and Diagnostics in Energy Management?

Harnessing the power of automated fault detection and diagnostics in energy management goes back to a simple engineering trend. When equipment malfunction or do not produce the expected results, like conditioning air appropriately, they use more energy; this is the result of the equipment attempting to complete its objective. In the case of HVAC systems, more units continuously to make up for the faulty units.

Automated identification of faults can be further refined by automating diagnostics like overriding control schedules, improper fan staging and broken dampers. Each problem may contribute to incorrect air flow, malfunctions in the economizer, or under-loaded hydronic loops, reports the Construction Specifier.

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Automated Systems Streamline Fault Detection and Diagnostics

Another side of the equation relies on the nature of fault detection. While a technician can review the equipment to diagnose a problem, automated systems can analyze millions of data points to locate the issue before a technician arrives. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a software capable of achieving this result analyzing patterns and trends in more than 7,000 pieces of equipment and 14 million data points per day. By streamlining fault detection and diagnostics, MIT has achieved more than $286,000 in energy cost reductions.

How to Make the Most of Automated Fault Detection and More

The technology developed by MIT might seem out of reach for most businesses. How can these companies keep up with innovations, while still operating within budget and demand? To answer that question, consider the benefits of managed services in deploying automated systems, which include:

  • Lower upfront investment costs for retrofitting facilities and detecting faults
  • Ongoing prioritization of maintenance needs, which are based on data gathered and analyzed
  • Cloud-based systems that require minimal upgrades to existing computer systems and enable access or control of system functions remotely

Use Automated Fault Detection and Diagnostics, as well as Repair Verification, to Cut Energy Costs and Increase Revenue Streams

Stop worrying about what might go wrong, and know when your systems are headed toward malfunction or failure by implementing automated fault detection and diagnostics software and systems today. The hallmark of an automated fault detection and diagnostics program is the ability to measure, report and optimize system data, says KGS Buildings, so the implementation of energy management systems with managed services is key. Explore the possibilities of automated diagnostics by visiting ENTOUCH online today. 

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