Commercial HVAC technology is becoming smarter. The future means more connectivity and providing more control for the end-user. A priority for Modine, in recent years, has been developing smart, intuitive controls systems to meet these needs.
These controls system are directly integrated into, Atherion® products, and the Airedale Classmate® and other school products. For a closer look at the technology, we turned to Peter Sumner, controls/electrical engineering section manager, to discuss the importance of easy-to-use controls for HVAC units and the advantages of BMS compatibility.
Question: Could you provide an overview of using the interface for Modine controls systems used in Modine engineered products?
Answer: Modine offers a custom interface through a handheld display on our engineered product to make troubleshooting simple. Everything on it is in plain text and we don’t use error codes.
From the display, you can scroll through and look at every input and output. You are even able to drill down to look at the Superheat, Sub cool and all operating pressure of the unit. From there you can determine whether the unit is running at optimal efficiency.
The display is very simple to navigate through, it only has six buttons and is very intuitive.
Q: Can the Modine controls systems communicate with common building management systems (BMS)?
A: Our Control Systems are compatible with major building management systems such as BACnet MS/TP or IP and LonWorks. This compatibility allows the user to have either supervisory or full unit control.
With full unit control, the Modine Control System maintains oversight of the refrigeration circuit to ensure it stays within the equipment’s safe operating envelope but gives the customer the flexibility to adjust the fan speeds and damper operations.
Every engineered product leaves the factory fully configured, as per the customer’s order, so when it gets installed it is ready for start-up.
Q: What kind of advantages does this kind of BMS connectivity offer customers?
A: The amount of information you can pull over the BMS actually gives you the opportunity to start diagnosing the issue before having to go the unit, you can read all unit alarms and view all operating parameters.
By giving their service groups access to the BMS, they’d be better prepared to fix the issue in one service visit.
Q: There is an increasing awareness of network security issues concerning the Internet of Things.
A: Sometimes people are worried that, when connected via a cloud system, that intruders could use it to switch things on and off, but that can be addressed with a standard awareness of network security.
It is completely dependent on the customer’s system and how they have it set up. At Modine, for example, if we have something set up into a building management system, it would be protected by the company network firewall just the same as my PC. At that point, you don’t have any issues.
Q: Are there any advantages of using a BMS-connected unit?
A: Whether you get a standalone unit or a BMS unit, the actual functionality and operation of the unit is exactly the same. However, you are able to monitor the energy savings, performance and other operational advantages with a BMS.
The ability to know right away when there is an issue saves time and money. Whereas, a customer who didn’t have a BMS most likely won’t find out they had the issue until the unit stops working the way it should or completely, which could lead to many other issues or the need to replace the unit.
Thanks to Peter Sumner for taking the time to discuss Modine’s smart, intuitive controls systems. The development of these systems is part of our commitment to finding innovative ways to ensure Modine’s HVAC technology can meet the specific needs of any facility.