Friday, 10 June 2016

Carl Turbitt, ABB's UK HVAC Drives Team Leader writes: As a keen sports fan I’m excited that we have not just one, but two major sporting events to enjoy this summer. And I’m certainly not alone in that. In addition to the millions of like-minded sports fans around the world who will be following the sporting action this summer, the hospitality industry is no doubt gearing up for what could be a bumper sales period.

For the thousands of pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants that make up the UK hospitality industry, the summer months can provide a major boost to sales as the warmer weather and various outdoor events – sporting and otherwise - encourage consumers to get out of the house to sun worship and socialise.
And that’s during an average summer. Add in a major sporting tournament lasting several weeks – or better still, two - and the opportunity to grow sales increases significantly.

But fluctuating visitor numbers and – dare to dream – hot weather do provide additional challenges for leisure venues. Specifically, how to ensure premises remain cool and properly ventilated at all times –front and back of house - regardless of how many bodies end up crammed inside or what the weather is like outside.

After all, even the most ardent football fan might find their enthusiasm wilting if they’re trying to watch a match in a packed pub or bar that is stiflingly hot and stuffy. If temperatures are going to run high this summer it should be because of what’s happening on the pitch, not because the HVAC system isn’t keeping up with demand.

With these variables to consider, HVAC systems will have their work cut out in keeping the temperature and airflow at comfortable levels this summer. But with visitor numbers rising and falling throughout the day, clearly it’s not necessary to constantly run the HVAC systems at full power all the time, and so some sort of speed control is needed.

The hospitality sector is an area where variable-speed drives (VSDs) can save an enormous amount of money and energy when incorporated into a building’s HVAC systems. The environment in both the front and back of house needs to be monitored, controlled and ventilated to ensure that guests are comfortable and that staff are safe in, for example, kitchens or cellars.

If a room or a section is quiet or empty, there’s no need to run these systems at full power, and so the various pumps and fans that comprise the building’s HVAC systems are typically either turned off altogether or run at a reduced capacity. To do this, many conventional pumps and fans use a throttling arrangement where the output flow is reduced with valves and dampers. A major drawback to this system is that it uses the same amount of electricity to run at lower speeds as it would if running at full capacity.

With a VSD this needn’t be the case. A motor controlled by a VSD will use only the minimum amount of energy that it requires at any given time. A fan running at 80 percent speed requires just 50 percent of the energy, which can translate to thousands of pounds in savings each and every year.
Another aspect to consider is that many motors are commonly oversized for what’s required of them based on the mistaken assumption that “bigger is better”. However unless the system is constantly running at full power, this excess capacity translates to wasted energy and wasted money day after day.

There is a wide range of potential applications for VSDs in the hospitality sector, all of which could potentially save money. Kitchen extractor fans, hotel air handling units, pub lavatory ventilation; these are just some of the many places where you could save money. Contact the ABB Energy & Productivity Team for an assessment to identify where your motors are costing you money, and how much you could save.

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