Last week much of the country suffered through extended uncharacteristically high temperatures that exceeded 100 degrees. The heat wave has been attributed to more than 30 deaths as well numerous power outages from Detroit to New York.
The prolonged heat and humidity has resulted in the nation’s two biggest power grids, which serve over 100 million consumers, scrambling to provide for demand 10% higher than normal. In an effort to curb power outages, some electric utility companies have reduced the voltage available to customers or are busy performing reactive maintenance repairs on failed assets.
The Secret to Limiting Power Consumption
One would have to imagine that HVAC repair companies did well this past week as poorly maintained HVAC units failed due to overwork. It is well known that simple preventive maintenance can help avoid many HVAC problems. What is less well known is why poor maintenance affects HVAC units.
Why HVAC Units Eat Power
The answer is simple and straightforward. HVAC units under the greatest stress are those units having dirty filters, corroded parts, or otherwise inhibited heat exchange components (includes leaks, bad wiring). When air flow and/or heat exchange is inhibited, the HVAC unit requires more energy to produce the same amount of cooled air as it did when the unit was brand new.
When the heat wave arrives, this translates into the HVAC unit running for longer periods of time on top of the extra time it might normally run in order to cool a building.
The end result is additional wear and tear and if the HVAC unit’s parts are also corroded, the situation could easily result in asset failure. Most importantly, the extra running time adds to the power demand of electric utilities.
CMMS and Fighting the Power Consumption Monster
The key to reducing energy consumption during an extended heat wave is getting the word out to facility, plant, government and residential customers that basic preventive maintenance and inspections can lower energy bills as well as help avoid emergency repairs and/or HVAC unit replacements costs.
For facility, plant and governments, scheduling inspections and preventive maintenance on HVAC units can be a daunting task if maintenance operations are not organized. One solution is to implement a CMMS system or make better use of an existing CMMS software solution.
A system will help organize all assets so that maintenance can be scheduled, performed and recorded in the most efficient and cost effective way. This is accomplished by:
- Reducing the amount of time spent filling out paperwork to identify, schedule and report on maintenance issues through work management automation.
- Organizing assets detail so that asset and maintenance managers always know where their assets are and the condition they are in.
- Increasing mobility of maintenance through the use of handheld devices reducing office time as well as increasing response time.
- Proactively scheduling preventive maintenance and inspections.
Saving Power, Labor and Replacement Dollars
Implementing a CMMS software solution does more than just lower energy costs. A properly implemented CMMS will give facility and maintenance managers the tools they need to:
- Reduce labor costs by reducing the number of overtime hours to handle emergency repairs such as HVAC issues.
- Reducing labor costs by allowing more work to be done with the same amount of resources which increases maintenance scheduling flexibility.
- Reduce the number of emergency repairs and capital asset replacements through more proactive maintenance planning.
- Review the work history of any asset and make better repair, refurbish or replacement decisions in preparation for the capital budget.
- Lengthen the useful lifecycle of assets through proper maintenance and therefore not replacing them as often.
Utility Energy Savings
Industrial and government facilities are not the only organizations that can benefit from a CMMS. The electric utility company can also apply the same preventive maintenance techniques to make sure their energy conversion assets are operating at optimal efficiency.
Good maintenance practices of utility assets does more than just lower energy conversion costs. Better asset and maintenance management will also ensure that utilities have the capacity to handle the extra power demand during a monstrous heat wave.
When you consider that proactive maintenance will lower overall utility operating costs, CMMS systems become a must for utilities and industry.