In the previous article, we explored the two best known methods for measuring the performance of refrigeration or heat pump systems. Manufacturers carry out these measurements on test equipment and provide the performance values under certain operating conditions.

For example, in the case of air conditioners, manufacturers are obliged to label the equipment according to European regulations, indicating both the COP or EER (instantaneous efficiency) and the SCOP or SEER (seasonal efficiency over a period of time), among other parameters.

Figure 1. Energy efficiency labelling of cooling and heating equipment in air-conditioning (HVAC)
Source: Delegated Regulation (EU) No 626/2011gs.

It should be noted that several constraints can affect the performance of a chiller or heat pump in a real installation, which may cause the performance to differ from the performance provided by the manufacturers:

  • Variability in outdoor ambient conditions and in condensing and evaporating temperatures.
  • Variability in the energy demand of the building or process, which affect the cooling or heating capacity provided by the equipment and may alter the performance of the installatimaon when trying to meet those demands.
  • Failures, breakdowns or leaks in the refrigerant circuit.
  • Malfunctioning of other components of the installations outside the production machines, but which may affect their working conditions; such as an environmental condition monitoring device in an area of a building, which may cause abnormal demand situations and instabilities in the production equipment.

The application of Industry 4.0 and IoT to refrigeration and air conditioning allows to have a performance monitoring and supervision system which provides the following advantages:

  • Knowledge of the real performance of the installation. As explained above, the real operating conditions may vary greatly from the manufacturer’s test bench conditions, so the system may be much less efficient than we think.
  • Early detection of faults and preventive maintenance of the installation, which can increase the lifetime of the equipment.
  • Ease of periodic inspections
  • Information storage to elaborate predictive models of equipment operation
  • Comparative analysis in retrofit or revamping projects
  • Process optimization and implementation of measures to improve the energy efficiency of the installation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Implementation of control systems for performance improvement
  • Measurement and verification of savings after the implementation of improvement measures or process changes.

Finally, it is necessary to re-emphasise the role of energy efficiency in achieving the energy and environmental challenges we will face in this century. Energy efficiency is associated with an optimization of our resources, which results in an improvement of our process. In this aspect, it is necessary to have a suitable performance measurement system which, is key to improve energy efficiency and obtain both energy and economic savings.

“What is not defined cannot be measured. What is not measured cannot be improved. What is not improved, always degrades” William Thomson Kelvin (Lord Kelvin)