Domestic boiler market grew again in 2019

 

While cooling is often mentioned in the context of the impact climate change might have on its rising demand and consequently on the energy demand that growth in cooling need is likely to cause, heating is often somewhat neglected in global discussions on changes that are needed to reduce the CO2 emission levels.

It is therefore worth having a closer look at the global heating markets performance as it provides a picture worth considering in further discussions about the net 0 Carbon future.

The latest release of BSRIA heating reports with global outreach reveals that the world domestic boiler market has grown by 6% year on year in 2019 and sales of non-condensing boilers accounted for 48% of total sales across the world.

 

condensing boilers
While condensing boilers dominate in the EU markets and are making stronger inroads in Turkey and the North American market, the non-condensing wall hung and floor standing boilers are prevalently sold in European countries outside the EU and across Asia.

Gas boilers, that account for the vast majority of sales worldwide, are still considered as good news in parts of the world, where coal has been a basic heating fuel not that long ago. Gas prices, that, with few exceptions, are usually lower than the price of electricity, help retaining consumers.

Out of the total of some 15.6 million units sold globally, 68% are sold as replacement of older units and 32% are still installed in the newly build dwellings.

Boilers are usually installed to provide both heating and domestic hot water – such units accounted for some 83% of the global market in 2019. They are a convenient solution for both, end users and installers.

So, what does the future hold for this market segment? Technologies that could displace boilers in homes are already available (heat pumps) and in some parts of the world policies are providing strong support for their uptake. Overall, heat pumps accounted for some 19% of the domestic heating market globally.

Research and development are intensifying to roll out green gas solutions, that includes the use of biogas and hydrogen, with some serious challenges still to overcome.

With strong regional differences in future performance, BSRIA has forecasted the overall global boiler market to remain broadly flat between 2019 and 2024, before taking the impact of COVID-19 pandemic into consideration. The latter is likely to cause strong disruption in 2020 which will be assessed by BSRIA team later in the year.

BSRIA global research programme on domestic and commercial boiler markets allows for analysis of the market dynamics on a global, regional and country levels, with country in-depth analysis available to support more strategic decision taking process.

The studies provide a full understanding of the latest market trends in terms of sales development by product type, price evolution, structure of the supply, long-term forecast and analysis of driving forces.

By Aline Breslauer, Research Consultant, BSRIA WMI.

 

For more information, please contact us at:

  • Americas sales enquiries: BSRIA USA: sales@bsria.com ¦ +1 312 7536803 www.bsria.com/us
  • China sales enquiries: BSRIA China: bsria@bsria.com.cn ¦ +86 10 64657707 www.bsria.com.cn
  • All other sales enquiries: BSRIA UK: wmi@bsria.co.uk ¦ +44 (0) 1344 465540 www.bsria.com/uk

Planned Preventive Maintenance during the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are living in unprecedented times; The UK has never experienced such restrictions in peace time, and the world has never seen such wide-ranging restrictions in so many countries simultaneously. As we move deeper into the lockdown of the UK, our ability to effect essential maintenance activities is being adversely impacted. There are reports of specialist subcontractors being unable to attend sites, TFM providers having limited resources and members of in-house teams being unable to attend work due to self-isolation, sickness or concerns over the coronavirus. 

Businesses are suffering from depleted competent resources and are also having to risk-assess the impacts to their remaining staff as part of exercising their own corporate duty of care. There are a lot of unknown facets to this issue as, by its name, the novel coronavirus is new. We can only work with the current guidance available and early indications of initial research that is being conducted.

BSRIA is recognised as experts in the field of maintenance, FM and the built environment and well known for our guidance on risk-based business-focused maintenance (BFM). Thus, we have been contacted by our members and clients for advice and support during this unique period. The advice we are offering is on interpretations of the government guidance as it applies to our industry. 

The UK government has stated that “Making buildings safe … remains a priority for the government.” Whilst it is focused on public sector, the Crown Commercial Service is more maintenance-focused and has issued guidance on what to do if you are reviewing the need for a full or partial shutdown of buildings and a reduction in services. 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which enforces several pieces of legislation that contain time-bound statutory inspections, initially communicated that there would be no change to their outlook on missing these inspections. However, latterly the HSE have allowed for some pragmatism. There is no relaxation whatsoever on the duty-holder’s legal responsibility to maintain work equipment, but there is more acknowledgment of the difficulties of carrying out thorough examinations, written schemes of examination and statutory inspections. The document detailing this can be found here and the press release here. If maintenance intervention dates are exceeded and the choice is made to keep a certain asset or system running, documenting the risk and the actions taken to avoid this risk is very important. The HSE provide some useful guidance on this here.

BFM respects statutory and mandatory requirements but has long advocated a review of non-statutory generic time-based interventions. Indeed, BSRIA’s BFM practitioners travel to sites up and down the country and across the globe, supporting building owners and operators with independent, authoritative advice on how to maximise business-function-critical building service uptime, whilst minimising cost and time resource investment. Targeted use of condition monitoring can often provide more uptime than intrusive maintenance permits and avoids the risk of maintenance induced failures.

When buildings are left unattended, certain considerations need to be made. If a building is vacant, then it should be mothballed, or put in an appropriate state of stasis. The BESA produced guidance on this in 2006 and published it under the title SFG 30. If there is even a skeleton staff in the building, then systems will need to be kept running.

Water is one of the first things to consider. Whereas under normal operations there may have been a handful of little-used outlets, in reduced operation stage, the vast majority of the outlets are possibly going to be termed as little-used.

As it is much easier to maintain a water system in a wholesome condition than to try to rid it of proliferated biology, it is recommended to ensure the flushing is attended to. We have an article on the subject here, but the basics are: keep  cold water cold, keep hot water hot and keep both moving. That advice works for the pumps too. For buildings that are still operating, cooling systems should be kept running regularly or as needed based on sensor inputs.

There is a growing body of investigations that is suggesting an indoor condition of 24°C+ and ≈50%rH+ is helpful in controlling SARS-CoV-2. However, the Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations (REHVA) has produced documentation that does not support this and suggests that the figures are closer to 30°C+ and ≈80%rH+ which would not be convenient in a building. If the building is being (or has been) vacated and will remain unoccupied for some time, then cooling towers can be drained and local authorities notified.

Heating is the same, we should keep things running at regular intervals or as and when there is a requirement for a heating load. It is the time of the year when we would be considering shutting down our heating systems, and those activities could be pulled forward, ensuring inhibitors topped up to keep the pipe condition and biological content within desired parameters.

Regarding ventilation; there is much discussion about the transmission methods of coronavirus. Is it fomite and droplet only, or is it airborne? There is talk about UV treatment of ventilation, HEPA room cleaners and whether, in the near future, these sorts of technologies will become the norm.

Based on the latest information and advice on the subject, it is possible to identify a unifying golden thread that puts emphasis on keeping the fresh or outdoor air coming in. Increasing ventilation appears to be the best solution. Creating negative pressures in the toilet areas and filling all other areas with as much fresh, non-recirculated air as possible and similarly increasing extract volumes is repeatedly stated as the best practice for ventilation systems. This may entail manual intervention to fully open dampers, close recirculation paths (including heat recovery where air streams mix), and considering running close to maximum air flow rate for up to 24 hours a day 7 days a week for any level of occupancy in a building.

Life safety systems will need to continue to be looked at even if buildings are at a low occupancy. BSRIA can give guidance on where to go for the best advice on any of these systems. If buildings are being mothballed, one consideration that will need to be made is contacting insurers to understand their coverage requirements. Systems that fall into the LOLER or PSSR categories will have their own considerations as governed by the HSE. Emergency lighting checks in an unoccupied building can be halted and then conducted prior to re-occupation. In an occupied building, the advice changes.

Due to the level of enquiries we have been fielding from our members and clients BSRIA have hosted discussion on this subject to gather industry input and opinions. It is possible to hear this presentation here.

I will finish by reassuring you that you are not alone in this. We are here to support you though these strange times and welcome your calls and emails about how we can support you.

Be safe.

PS: If you are not familiar with BFM, we have an article on the subject here and we would be more than happy to take enquiries on our consultancy@bsria.co.uk email address, but in a nutshell it is a way of adapting PPM routines to focus on the business’s main activities and ensuring that the installed building services are able to support them.

BSRIA first published guidance on BFM in 2004, and the current guide, BG 53, was published in 2016.

Business-Focused Maintenance (BG 53/2016)

In industrial applications gas boilers are still important while renewables are growing slowly


BSRIA has researched the market of industrial boilers
– boilers used for industrial processes and/or district heating in seven major countries: the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia and China.

Despite dynamic progress on renewables in many other heating markets, gas boilers still remain the most prominent product in the industrial segment.

The use of ground to water, water to water heat pumps and energy from waste heat is growing and they are increasingly becoming installed in a primary system. However, gas and to a lesser extent, oil or biomass boilers are used most often as a secondary source for a backup system to either provide an operational safety related redundancy level or to support the peak load demand.

Gas boilers still benefit from lower investment cost and even though technologies that use renewable energy sources are increasing their penetration in the industrial segment, current research supports the view that gas boilers will keep playing a significant role in the market in the next decade.

China, with its nearly 50,000 units sold per year is the largest among the researched markets.  Following government push towards reduction of air pollution, there is a significant shift in sales from coal to gas boilers. The country has a preference for large output boilers while in Western Europe BSRIA sees the opposite trend, with smaller capacity, condensing boilers gaining significance.

boilers

Heat networks are an important and growing segment for industrial boilers; they accounted for some 20% of all industrial boilers sold in 2018. In all seven researched countries, industrial processing in chemical, food and cement industries is also growing in prominence.

As technology progresses the value of the industrial boiler market is growing, moreover, in all countries the service and maintenance part of the business is also growing significantly. Focus on energy efficiency supports the trend towards regular seasonal check and more frequent upgrades.

In terms of technology, most industrial boilers sold in the researched countries are fire tube units.

By Socrates Christidis,
Senior Market Analyst, Worldwide Marketing Intelligence, BSRIA Ltd


Notes to editors:

 

To find out more, please contact us at:

The European BACS Market – Looking Up?

 

BSRIA’s Worldwide Market Intelligence has just published updates to its Building Automation Controls (BACS) studies for four key Western European Markets: Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The studies confirm that, while each market has some special characteristics, there are some important common trends.

As of February 2020, BSRIA was forecasting strong growth in all four markets, though unfolding events, including the coronavirus, could have an adverse impact. In the period 2019- 2024 the forecast ranges from 3.1% to 4.8% CAGR depending on the country. The strongest growth is forecast for Belgium and Spain, reflecting in part the economic recovery after a difficult period in the latter.

Forecast Growth for Four Key European BACS Markets: % CAGR 2019 – 2024

BACS market 2019-2024

Source: BSRIA Research

 

The effects of economic conditions are currently open to a lot of uncertainty, especially given the possible impact of the coronavirus pandemic which, according to some analysts, could potentially spark a serious global recession. The UK’s exit from the European Union still leaves considerable uncertainty about the long-term relationship between the two parties as negotiations for a new trade deal have started with substantial differences of opinion in many key areas.

However, there are some clear technology developments that are driving change, supporting building controls markets.

Software and analytics are becoming increasingly important and strategic. In three of the four markets, BACS software is growing faster in value than the total BACS market. In Germany and Spain, the growth for this segment is twice as fast. Since software is increasingly bundled with the wider service offering the actual importance of software to BACS is even greater than the crude sales “numbers” for software suggest. Increasingly, the quality and value of a BACS supplier’s products and services will depend on the capabilities of the software deployed to manage a building more intelligently and proactively.

While there is a move to the Cloud and more specifically to Software as a Service (SaaS), the great majority of software sold remains server-based, ranging from 75% in Spain to more than 90% in Germany, the latter figure reflecting the cautious nature of much of the German market.

Controllers, particularly DDC controllers are increasingly freely programmable, with the vast majority of all products being at least configurable. This enables controllers to be used for a wider range of applications and scenarios.

The advance of the Internet of Things is reflected in the fact that, increasingly, field devices are capable of being easily connected to the internet. This is especially true of larger and more complex devices. In all four markets, BSRIA research found that over 60% of Air Conditioning Units had an inbuilt capability of being connected to the internet. However, this capability was currently being used only in a minority of cases where there was a direct benefit in connecting to the net.

One key measure of the move towards “smarter” buildings is the extent to which HVAC, which has traditionally been the core application of BACS, has converged with other key building systems, allowing common and coordinated control. For example, to maximise energy efficiency while maintaining a comfortable working environment it makes sense to manage HVAC, lighting and blinds via a common system.

Our research showed that while convergence is increasing, in Germany and Belgium the majority of new buildings with BACS still focused purely on HVAC applications. While, BACS refurbishment or retrofit projects were less likely to be converged, a substantial and growing minority are now linking HVAC with other building services.

In key European Markets, BACS projects are showing increasing convergence

European BACS Markets showing increasing convergence

Source: BSRIA research in Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and Spain – 2019

 

In all the markets researched the BACS products form part of a much larger market embracing both other products and labour. The labour component typically represents about half the market value, in some cases more, and many of the larger BACS suppliers are focusing increasingly on the service element of their delivery.

Once labour and other products are factored in, the BACS industry is worth almost 2.5 billion US dollars across Europe as a whole and will be increasingly central to the development of both artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

By Henry Lawson,
Senior Analyst, Worldwide Market Intelligence, BSRIA Ltd

 

Notes to editors:

To learn more about these trends, please view BSRIA’s 2020 update of its well-established BACS market reports.

To find out more contact us at:

 

 

Thermal Imaging helps improve energy efficiency in building design

Energy efficiency in building design

Buildings account for approximately 40% of the total energy we use. Based on this statistic, even a small improvement in energy efficiency in our buildings could have a huge impact on the environment. 

A reduction in the amount of heat that escapes through a building envelope is one of the most important aspects of energy-efficient building design. Keeping the heat within the confines of the conditioned area removes the necessity to supply more energy to the space. 

On the flip side, the problem of overheating suggests that heat, and energy production, within a lightweight structure needs to be carefully managed for fear of increasing the internal temperatures to uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous levels. It is implied that the cost of cooling a space far exceeds the equivalent cost to heat a space. 

In an effort to keep the heat inside the building, a strategy to ensure attention to the airtightness and insulation detail throughout the construction process should be incorporated at the design stage. Consequently, to ensure that any negative effects associated with possible overheating and moisture ingress due to such an airtight structure are kept to a minimum, the construction must be designed with an appropriate ventilation strategy.

Challenges of different construction methodology

Construction methods face individual challenges when considering the design of an energy-efficient example of its product. 

The design and construction of volumetric modules, for example, have huge efficiency benefits when considering the increased production and uniformity of manufacturing on an assembly line. However, the transport of each module and the assembly of multiple modules on-site can introduce areas of weakness in the overall building fabric that would not be apparent in the factory. 

When considering a timber frame, the junctions between frame elements can be subject to unexpected stresses and movement as the natural timbers settle into their new environment. These movements, no matter how small, can introduce significant air leakage paths into the building fabric and therefore have a negative contribution to the thermal performance of the finished building.   

In both above examples, rigorous quality testing should be performed to ensure the quality of the finished building, proofing that it has been built and assembled to the designed specification.  

Airtightness Testing verifies the quality of building fabric

Airtightness testing demonstrates the ability of a building to hold air. The test generally involves using a fan to measure how much air needs to be blown into a building to achieve a certain pressure; a building with a more airtight building fabric will require less air through the fan. The value of the result, which is referred to as the permeability of the building fabric, is required by Building Regulations to have a maximum value of 10 m3h-1m2, although most buildings are specified at a lower level at the design stage to achieve a lower EPC (Energy Performance Certificate). The government stipulates that all new buildings must be airtightness tested before handover to ensure quality control. 

Airtightness testing is a very good way to verify the quality of the building fabric. However, it can only quantify how much air is coming through your building fabric and does not inform where the air leakage paths are. In contrast, thermal imaging can tell you where the air is leaking but it cannot quantify how bad the air leakage is.  Performing both is therefore providing full set of information that is needed to ensure that the designed specification is achieved. 

How Thermal Imaging can lead to improvements in energy efficiency

Thermal imaging process of the building fabric implies the use of a thermal imaging camera to observe and assess the thermal performance of building fabric elements. It allows us to ‘see’ the effects of the heat generated by items around us, and to ‘see’ the areas of the fabric that have the lowest thermal performance.  

When used to survey the building fabric, the camera shows temperature variations on the surfaces of the construction elements that suggest locations of air leakage, areas of thermal bridging and locations where the insulation continuity is broken. Each of these issues will have a detrimental effect on the thermal performance of the building. The anomalies found during the process often represent an area of the building that has not been built to specification. Highlighting them allows the rectification and subsequent improvement works to take place before they become a problem to the occupier.  

The use of airtightness testing and thermal imaging is a relatively quick and cost-effective way to verify the performance of the building fabric of the finished building, be it an assembly of volumetric modules or a “completed and wrapped” timber frame. 

Any thermal anomalies found during these surveys can be rectified before the building is occupied. If no anomalies are found, then the building has documented proof that it has been built to the specified standard. This should mitigate overall disruption and ensure occupier’s satisfaction.

The information collected during the survey can be fed back into the design process and further improvements can be made in future iterations of the product. In this way, these diagnostic tools can be used not only to maximise the energy efficiency of the current building but can also be used to improve the design and construction process of future projects. 

Joe Mazzon
Research Engineer 
BSRIA

For more information on Thermal imaging and Airtightness testing please contact: thermography@bsria.co.uk or call 01344 465578

Why use Business Focused Maintenance?

Why do we do maintenance? Is it to keep our assets in optimum working condition? Do we do it to make the equipment last longer? Perhaps the main goal is to prevent failures? If it is for any of these reasons you may find that you are working to an outdated ethos…

BSRIA has recognised and employ a more pragmatic approach for today’s business needs. BFM recognises that the building services’ equipment is installed to provide a service, thereby allowing a business function to be maintained. It analyses the business needs and consequences of failure first and foremost. This ensures that business function is maintained with the minimum of intrusive maintenance to minimise maintenance induced failure, otherwise it is traditionally assumed that the built environment’s asset failure follows the bathtub curve below.

BFM

There are standard specifications for maintenance within the building services industry that have been updated over the years such as SFG20. This is used by many organisations to enable them to tender for outsourced maintenance on a like-for-like basis. The main drawback from this approach is that the maintenance delivered would be generic across the site. This can increase costs and/or reduce the availability of human resources. Couple this with the often-quoted statistic that “70% of failures are due to ineffective maintenance” and it begs the questions to be asked over purely time-based PPM frequencies.

BFM recognises that the need for maintenance generally arises from business needs such as

  1. Complying with legislation
  2. Minimising health and safety risks
  3. Minimising business risks
  4. Managing business continuity
  5. Responding to business and customer requirements
  6. Adding value as part of the business process
  7. Reducing overall business costs
  8. Maximising whole life cost
  9. Increasing asset / system availability
  10. Increasing operational up time

Users of BFM – first published as a BSRIA Guide in 2004 – have demonstrated increased system availability and greatly reduced costs. There is a structured, six-step process to follow where the client and BSRIA work collaboratively to

  1. Assess business needs and consequences of asset failure
    • The goals of the business and the needs of the end users are assessed to ascertain which assets are crucial, and therefore the impact on the business of assets failing. The structure of BFM allows for this task to be done as objectively as possible and logged on a numeric scale of 1-10. 1 is a low consequence and 10 is a high impact on business continuity.
  1. Document functional block diagrams and assess functional resilience
    • review the systems and assess their ability to continue to meet the needs of the business when a failure occurs.
  1. Assess asset condition
    • A full condition survey as per BG 35/2012 taking into account all relevant influences on an assets condition, to provide a remaining life expectancy.
  1. Calculate likelihood of failure
    • converts the alpha-numeric score from tasks 3 and 2 to a 1-10 score via conversion table 6 in the BFM guide BG 53/2016.

BFM1

5. Calculate BFM score

    • combine the score from task 1 (BC) with the number calculated in task 4 (L) to give a BFM risk score on a scale of 1-100.

BFM2

6. Review of PPM tasks and frequency

    • Apply scores to the agreed level of risk set by the organisation. From this a revised maintenance schedule can be drawn up. BG 53/2016 suggests the following;
      • 1-9 Discretionary maintenance for non-critical assets
      • 10-40 Legal compliance and sector specific requirements
      • 41-100 Maintenance to provide the greatest level of confidence in asset reliability, performance and availability.

bfm5

Whilst every job is different, an indicative timeline can show you that BFM can very quickly make it’s impact on businesses.

The business-focused maintenance methodology challenges the planned preventative maintenance frequency of building services plant. The assessment methodology takes into account plant history (age, condition, failure history, plant loading, and maintenance history), the number of standby plant items (redundancy), and the level of resources available.

Many of the intrusive maintenance tasks can be replaced by Condition Monitoring (CM) which in turn leads to Condition Based Maintenance (CBM). The actual practice of CM is far quicker in terms of man hours than time-based PPMs and often involves zero down time to the asset and therefore no impact to the business. In addition to the usual array of gauges on an asset or its BMS sensor display that can be used to monitor plant performance, common CM methods include thermal imaging, vibration monitoring, acoustic emission monitoring and lubricant analysis.

Regular use of these methods at appropriate intervals can be far more cost effective than regular time-based generic intervals, whereas for non-critical plant, the most cost-effective maintenance methodology may be to run-to-failure. By applying the BFM methodology, you can be confident that you have selected the most appropriate maintenance technique for the services in your building.


This article was written by Nick Blake – Principal FM Consultant at BSRIA.

For more information about our research on maintenance and facilities management, please contact: consultancy@bsria.co.uk

To download our publication on Business Focused Maintenance (BG53/2016):
please click here>>

BSRIA's publications on maintenance and facilities management

 

AI in Buildings – The Vision and the Reality

BSRIA’s latest research into Building Automation Controls markets (BACS) has been released in February 2020. It confirms the growing importance of software in buildings with Artificial Intelligence (AI) playing a particular role.

What do we mean by AI in buildings? The term artificial intelligence (AI) tends to rear up in almost any current discussion about how to solve human, social or technical problems. While AI is almost as hard to define as intelligence itself, it is generally seen as embracing anything that goes beyond simply following fixed instructions of an “if x / then do y” nature.Picture1

It typically involves “learning”, finding patterns and correlations and extrapolating from these. More advanced AI can formulate hypotheses which can then be validated. The results can  range from relatively simple predictions, such as when I am most likely to want the heating to be on in my home, to highly complex ones involving a whole “world view”.

While the concept of AI has been around for more than 60 years, it is the combination of cheap, intensive processing power, almost unlimited data storage (often in the Cloud) and fast, reliable transmission of data that has made it a concrete and practical presence.

Buildings and their systems are clearly obvious candidates for AI. They are often large and complex and interact both with the people and with activities inside them as well as with the wider outside world in all kinds of ways, in a manner that can change radically over time.

Buildings are also heavy users of environmentally important resources such as energy (taking c. 40% of all energy consumption), having a big impact on human welfare and productivity.

Building systems that can adapt and operate “intelligently” and with less direct human supervision are increasingly sought after.

AI can play a role in almost any area of a building and its services. In terms of energy it can identify consumption patterns that are in some way abnormal, for example in its timing or in its intensity.

Fault prediction and prevention is another activity to which AI lends itself. By collecting, correlating and analysing information about when failures occur it is possible to predict where and when they might occur in future and to identify warning signs that can prompt preventative action. Where the equipment is critical, preventing outages can make a huge difference, saving money and potentially saving lives.

Alarms and security represent another obvious application for AI in ensuring that fires hazards are identified without false alarms, and that security video data is correctly interpreted, for example by identifying individuals as trusted or as potentially a threat.

AI can also extend into areas which have not always been much associated with building systems such as the monitoring of water quality. On a day-to-day basis, intelligent building systems can also ease the running of buildings, whether it is determining when rooms need to be cleaned or by guiding visitors’ cars towards free parking spaces.

As well as enhancing building functions, AI can transform the way that building users interact with the building, the most obvious example being speech recognition which, through products such as Amazon Alexa is already transforming the way many people interact with their homes and has applications in commercial buildings as well.

It is nonetheless important to keep the present state of AI in perspective.  A first key point is that artificial intelligence, like human intelligence, will always have limits and be prone to mistakes. It is for example practically impossible to predict every failure of a building system without generating any “false positives”. The trick is to strike the right balance, but this requires the accumulation of experience.

This is compounded by the fact that the organisations and individuals that understand buildings and their idiosyncrasies tend to come from a different background and culture to those that have been pioneering the development of AI. The successful implementation of AI in buildings requires a coming together of these two traditions.

In some cases, AI is “bought in” for example by mergers and acquisitions, in other cases companies attempt to recruit and build up their AI skills. CBInsights has monitored takeovers of AI companies, and found, perhaps unsurprisingly that the five highest numbers of takeovers were executed by the five US based tech giants, led by Apple. It is not a coincidence that four of these have actively engaged in smart homes or in other smart buildings

Picture2Source: CBInsight, BSRIA – each rectangle represents one buyer, scaled by companies bought

AI potentially reduces the need for some human skills, for example by making troubleshooting of building faults a much more automated process, but also increasing the need for other skills. Apart from the system engineers who design and implement the AI based solutions, building managers and users need to have enough understanding of those systems, and have the means to respond effectively.

For example, if a warning or alert is triggered by an intelligent system then either the problem needs to be corrected automatically or someone needs to have the knowledge and means to affect the chance.

The smarter, the more complex and the more connected the building, the more cyber security is likely to be seen as a potential threat. Significantly, cybersecurity is itself one of the main applications of AI.

The best current view is that, while AI is starting to have an impact on building services, it is still mostly in its early stages. If buildings were people, they would be just starting to walk on two legs and have some way to evolve before they could be seen as truly intelligent.

To learn more about the specific impact of software and AI on building automation, look for BSRIA  2020 update of its well-established BACS reports.

Please contact us to find out more:

  • America sales enquiries: BSRIA USA: sales@bsria.com ¦ +1 312 753 6800 www.bsria.com/us
  • China sales enquiries: BSRIA China: bsria@bsria.com.cn ¦ +86 10 6465 7707 www.bsria.com.cn
  • All other sales enquiries: BSRIA UK: wmi@bsria.co.uk ¦ +44 (0) 1344 465 540 www.bsria.com/uk

 

This article was written by
Henry Lawson, Senior Market Intelligence Analyst, BSRIA Ltd. 

Power quality issues – Harmonics

Harmonics issues within an electrical installation frequently go overlooked due to a lack of understanding or awareness of them. This then often leads site and facility managers experiencing problems within their installations to focus on the symptoms rather than the underlying cause of those problems. In this Blog on power quality issues we explore the causes, symptoms and some solutions to the problems of harmonics.

Within the last 30 years there has been a big increase in the number of non-linear loads connected to the electrical network, including computers and associated IT equipment, uninterruptable power supplies, variable speed motor drives, electronic lighting ballasts, and LED lighting, to name just a few. The growing use of such equipment and the application of electronics in nearly all electrical loads are beginning to have some worrying effects on the electricity supply. It is estimated that today over 95% of the harmonic interference within an installation is generated by equipment within that installation.

When a linear electrical load is connected to the supply it draws a sinusoidal current at the same frequency as the voltage, however, non-linear loads draw currents that are not necessarily sinusoidal.

The current waveform can become quite complex, depending on the type of load and its interaction with other components in the installation. These non-linear loads increase current, and in severe cases voltage, distortion in the electrical supply, which can lead to significant energy losses, shortened equipment lifespans, and reduced efficiency of devices.

Waveform distortion can be mathematically analysed to show that it is generally equivalent to superimposing additional frequency components onto the original 50Hz sinewave. These frequencies are harmonics of the fundamental frequency, and can sometimes propagate outwards from the non-linear loads causing problems elsewhere on the electrical installation.

Regardless of how complex the current waveform becomes it is possible to deconstruct it into a series of simple sine waves using Fourier analysis.

One of the measures often used to indicate the amount of harmonic distortion present in an electrical installation is total harmonic current distortion or THDi. This is a ratio of the sum of all the harmonic currents to the current at the fundamental frequency described by the equation: –

THDi

Harmonic currents have negative effects on almost all items on the electrical system by upsetting sensitive electronic devices and causing dielectric thermal and mechanical stresses.

The most significant of these include computer and other IT equipment crashes and lockouts, flickering lights, electronic card failures in process control equipment, power factor correction equipment failure, high load switching failure, neutral conductor overheating, unexpected circuit breaker operation and inaccurate metering.

Some of these, such as flickering lights and IT equipment crashes are, at the least, an irritant to businesses. Electronic card failures on production lines or process control equipment can cost businesses in unplanned down-time. Worst of all though, failure of power factor correction and electrical distribution equipment, cables, transformers, motors and standby generators can be catastrophic. At the least the presence of harmonics will cause reduced electrical efficiency within the installation and excessive power consumption which you will be paying for.

The internal resistance of a capacitor reduces as frequency rises, and at high frequencies can appear almost as a short circuit. Power factor correction capacitors are generally designed to operate at the fundamental frequency, and the lower impedance seen by the higher frequency harmonic currents result in an increased amount of capacitor overheating. It is also possible to experience permanent damage to capacitors due to parallel resonance occurring between them and transformers.

Resistive heating is proportional to the square of the harmonic order, and so it follows that the greater the number of higher order harmonics that exist the greater the heating effect.

At the least this will lead to large increases in iron losses, and therefore power consumption, in rotating machines and transformers, as well as increased eddy current losses in transformers. In the worst cases fires in wiring and distribution systems or even catastrophic transformer failure.

Apart from losses due to heating effects, motors in particular can be significantly negatively impacted by harmonics due to torsional oscillation of the motor shaft. Torque in AC motors is produced by the interaction between the air gap magnetic field and induced currents in the rotor. When a motor is supplied non-sinusoidal voltages and currents, the air gap magnetic fields and the rotor currents will obviously contain harmonic frequency components. The harmonics are grouped into positive, negative and zero sequence components. Positive sequence harmonics (1, 4, 7, 10, 13, etc.) produce magnetic fields and currents rotating in the same direction as the fundamental frequency harmonic. Negative sequence harmonics (2, 5, 8, 11, 14, etc.) develop magnetic fields and currents that rotate in a direction opposite to the positive frequency set, and zero sequence harmonics (3, 9, 15, 21, etc.) do not develop usable torque, but produce additional losses in the machine. The interaction between the positive and negative sequence magnetic fields and currents produce torsional oscillations of the motor shaft. These oscillations result in shaft vibrations, and if the frequency of oscillations coincides with the natural mechanical frequency of the shaft, they become amplified and severe damage to the motor shaft may occur. It is sometimes possible to literally hear a transformer or motor “sing or growl” due to these vibrations and this is often one of the first observed indications of a harmonic problem.Transformer failure

Some of the most troublesome harmonics are the 3rd, and odd multiples of the 3rd, i.e. the 9th, 15th etc. These harmonics are called “triplens”. The triplen harmonics on each phase are all in phase with each other which will cause them to add rather than cancel in the neutral conductor of a three phase four wire system. This can overload the neutral if it is not sized to handle this type of load.

Fortunately, the identification and measurement of harmonics is easily achieved using a power quality analyser or power and energy logger (PEL) with harmonic capabilities, and while they cannot be eliminated, since they are generated by the various loads in the installation, they can be confined to an area as close to the polluting load as possible in order to prevent them from reaching the overall network.

The main methods used involve installing passive or active filtering or isolating systems designed to limit the deterioration of energy quality and other harmful effects as well as the use of tuned power factor correction equipment. Once the harmonics are “under control”, the associated problems, power losses, equipment failures and outages, and energy costs will be reduced.

Harmonics can be a major issue in the modern electrical installation, becoming increasingly more important as more switching and smart loads are introduced. Harmonics must be monitored regularly in order to verify their levels and prevent potential failures or high losses.

This article and images was published courtesy of Chauvin Arnoux, and for further advice on instrumentation that can be used for monitoring power quality issues the BSRIA Instrument Solutions team on 01344 459314 or e-mail instruments@bsria.co.uk  Alternatively simply visit http://www.bsria.com/uk/instrument/ to view the range of products available for both Hire and Purchase.

Smart Buildings – Thoughts from Olympia

When I first started attending trade shows years ago, I was of course eager to find the latest technological wonders, unveiled before our admiring eyes. Over the years I have come to see that such events are less places to go to for dramatic revelations and more experiences which either confirm or call into doubt what you already thought you knew about what was happening in the market.

This was encapsulated by a familiar face from a major supplier who admitted that the company was there mainly to underline its presence in the smart buildings space in the UK.

For our presentation we had chosen the theme of “Wellbeing in Buildings: Gimmick or Game changer”? The theme clearly captured a lot of interest from the audience. Global wellbeing standards like the Well Standard and the Fitwell standard lay down detailed and structured standards against which wellbeing can be measured.

Over 1,300 organisations in the UK have either passed the Well Building Standard or are working towards it, which is more than any other country in the world, just ahead of the US, despite this being a US-based standard. My own quick preliminary research confirms that in many cases BACS or other smart building technology can make a tangible difference in attaining many of these goals.

Looking at the themes of all the presentation, wellbeing and related subjects was the second most popular topic, so we appear to have captured the zeitgeist. Most popular of all was “IoT” and its impact on buildings. One presentation supported the notion that IoT will lead to the demise of BACS as it has traditionally been known (though security is likely to require that building systems remain insulated to a degree from the wider internet – by firewalls or other security measures).

Lighting was the third most popular theme, which of course ties in with both wellbeing and energy saving. In joint fourth place were cyber-security, issues related to wireless, and the more general advance of integration. Cyber security is clearly the snarling guest at the party which is not going to leave however hard you try, and which will require a constantly evolving strategy to control.

The interest in integration is hardly surprising, since you can no more have a smart building without integration of a range of different building services than you can have a smart animal if the hands, the feet, the eyes, the lungs and the liver all operate entirely independently.

Wireless technology continues to gain ground, slowly, though key questions of reliability and security remain to be fully resolved. The growth prospects for wireless look likely to be boosted if there is a growth in smart building technology in smaller buildings, driven partly by new energy regulations.

In connection with wireless, I attended an interesting talk on the roll out of 5G in the UK. While the speaker saw it mainly in terms of an increase in overall network capacity – with the major telcos enjoying varying shares, in buildings there was also the opportunity to licence a small and localised part of the network to use for internal transmission.

Other themes favoured by more than one speaker included the growing importance of having large numbers of sophisticated sensors to collect the data needed for a smart building, the importance of data and analytics, and the value of space management.

And of course, at an event like this, we should pay attention not just to what is said, but what is left unsaid, or merely whispered sotto voce.

Of the big themes that we might have expected, there was less explicit reference to the cloud. This partly reflects the fact that the cloud is an enabler rather than an end in itself and is implicitly linked to the most popular theme of all: the IoT.

There was less direct reference to data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning than I might have expected. I suspect this is partly because these are hard to pin down for the benefit of an audience more interested in practical results than in the theory that under pins them. After all, AI is as hard to define rigorously as is the “smart building”. Both are essentially continually advancing targets.

A significant number of major building controls suppliers were in attendance – most of them headquartered outside the UK

All of this made it an event worth attending.

 

Written by Henry Lawson, Senior Market Intelligence Analyst at BSRIA

Servitisation, Smart Systems and Connectivity – What’s next for instrumentation?

There are many buzzwords associated with the multitude of new developments in today’s technological world, and the use of terms like Smart Instrumentation, The Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and Servitisation are becoming increasingly common. Whilst we may think that we are familiar with these descriptors there is sometimes a disconnect with what they mean to the industries where they apply.

BSRIA is uniquely placed to be at the forefront of the use and application of technological innovation especially within the building services industry. BSRIA’s vision is to be leaders for information, knowledge and improvement for the built environment; with an aim of ‘making buildings better’, so concepts such as the BSRIA Business-Focused Maintenance (BFM) methodology fit this remit and have become increasingly relevant as technology has advanced.

Today’s engineers can now use a wide variety of instrumentation that can be considered ‘smart’. However not all smart instruments are created equal and to be truly smart the monitoring data must be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), generating data that is uploaded and analysed either by a human operative or a software application. This can be used in preventative maintenance planning, helping to move away from planned scheduled maintenance schedules which are often expensive and unreliable in identifying faults and potential failures. Some of the most widely used monitoring methods include ultrasonic flow meters, temperature monitors, humidity monitors, power meters and process emissions analysers. These instruments and others are indispensable tools for engineers, they provide a non-invasive, user-friendly and cost-effective solution to maintenance testing which can be used as part of a smart system of monitoring.

A smart IoT instrument must be linked to the internet through a hub or router. The continuing development of smart technology and the IoT in the instrumentation sector means that something called servitisation is becoming increasingly relevant in the way that today’s building services sector customer offerings are created and marketed.

The concept of servitisation was first discussed by Vandermerwe & Rada in their 1988 paper; ‘Servitisation of business: Adding value by adding services’, published in the European Management Journal. The Servitisation of products involves a strategy of adding value by adding services to products or even replacing a product with a service package. For example, supplying an HVAC system and adding various levels of service, additional features and product support. Customers can be offered a choice of options for a product ranging from supply of the basic physical parts of the system, right up to a complete turnkey solution including all support, monitoring, maintenance and repair. For instrumentation the basic physical unit can be supplied, with additional services including accessories, software, service & calibration and data management being sold as additional options. Data management services are a relatively recent addition to the instrumentation sector, this can include mobile apps, data portals, warehousing & storage and data processing.

The way that servitisation is offered to a customer can be business or even product specific, for example there could be an initial capital expense payment, or the entire cost could be fully included in a subscription or lease type agreement. This helps the customer to manage capital expenditure and the seller to manage their finances by making income streams more consistent and aiding cash flow management. However, it is important to supply products that add value to the performance or create cost savings for a customer, over-specification or ‘over-servitisation’ of smart systems can be pointless, expensive and can lead to loss of customer goodwill.

With the user-friendliness and wealth of applications for smart instruments, you don’t need to be an expert, employ a consultant or have large budgets to get the data you need. We work closely but independently with a wide range of equipment suppliers which means we can provide solutions to meet our customer’s specific needs. We can supply a wide range of smart instruments from entry level units up to state-of-the-art professional cameras and all at an affordable price.

We recognise our client’s needs are time critical and we have equipment available for hire and sale direct from stock or with short lead times. In processes where plant failure can cause down-time that can potentially cost millions of pounds in lost income it is imperative that critical building services must never be disrupted by failure. We pride ourselves on providing fit-for-purpose, user friendly and cost-effective equipment.

At a basic level, an IoT instrument takes a measurement, this data is uploaded to a processing system, the data is analysed and any potential risks or failures are highlighted – this can result in an automated system response (e.g. process change or shut down) and/or an alert to an engineer (email, text, etc.) to highlight the issue for action (e.g. schedule specific maintenance or equipment replacement). The data analysis process is key to effective system operation, it can use Big Data processes to highlight potential problems (i.e. using software to analyse very high volumes of data to identify patterns consistent with potential problems). Artificial Intelligence (AI) software is one of the most recent developments in building control and monitoring technology and is an ideal fit for smart systems, it has the potential to deal with huge volumes of data and identify problems more effectively than human or traditional digital algorithm analysis. AI is a relatively new field and advances in this area are likely to increase at pace over the coming years and impact all aspects of the sector.

The development of smart IoT instrument systems is also driving servitisation by moving the point of value from physical instruments towards the software and data handling. There are many ways in which the building services sector has opportunities to use big data to create value for the customer, including improved information security and enhance physical comfort to increase worker performance. These trends are discussed in detail in the BSRIA publication BG75/2018 Building Services Analytics.

IoT instruments can also be linked to or part of a Building Management System (BMS) and it also fits with the BSRIA Business-Focused Maintenance (BFM) methodology first published in 2004 and updated in 2016 (BFM Guide BG53/2016). BFM plant maintenance requirements can utilise smart instrumentational monitoring and data processing. An aim of BFM is to provide engineers with a methodology for utilising maintenance budgets more effectively, this aligns with the design of smart instrumentation systems and the creation of service offerings. Assets critical to the business are maintained, while other less critical assets are managed as well as possible within the available budget. By assessing and prioritising plant maintenance needs for risks and criticality to the business, engineers and managers can ensure their maintenance effort is resource efficient, focused, cost-effective and increase their resilience to engineering risk.

The way that BMS data is managed and processed is as important as the instrumentation itself, it must be generated and analysed in a format that can be used to create plans and actions that add value, generate efficiencies and create cost savings for the customer. Some of the first digital breakthroughs have been in predictive asset maintenance and real-time monitoring. Digital twin systems where a virtual model of a physical asset is created allow predictive analysis to be performed and can highlight potential failure points more effectively than routine planned monitoring work. However, focus must always be on the key aim of smart systems to simplify processes for the end user, systems should work for the user not the other way around, this applies to the instruments, their control systems and product support.

Technological developments are likely to continue increasing in pace in the coming years and this will impact everyone involved in the sector from operators to supply chain suppliers. BSRIA Instrument Solutions is ideally placed to provide its customers with the latest developments in smart instrumentation as it supplies product from a comprehensive range of leading suppliers. For further details of the Instrument Solutions equipment hire, sales and calibration capabilities visit www.bsria.co.uk/instruments or call our team on freephone 0800 254 5566 (UK only ) or +44 (0) 1344 459314.

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