The Internet of Things (IoT) provides connectivity for everything from baby monitors to water bottles. The technology has also become part of industrial boiler rooms. Here’s a closer look at how an IoT boiler system could give users valuable insights that support their businesses.
Making the Boilers Adapt to Different Environments
An industrial boiler’s performance targets might differ depending on weather and altitude. However, Lochinvar manufacturers connected industrial boilers that can accommodate those changes and respond accordingly.
These boilers have smart technology working in the background that accounts for environmental changes in the manufactured location versus where people use it. The system tracks data that shows whether the machine meets its combustion targets while accounting for weather and altitude specifics.
Even so, it’s still easy enough for a contractor to interact with during service calls. Robert Wiseman, the hydronics product manager at Lochinvar, explained, “We’ve done as much as we can to make it easier for the contractor and the client so that from startup through the lifetime of the unit, it’s as quick and easy as possible to work with this product.”
There is also only one mechanical step, associated with the gas valve, required in the boiler’s activation process. The rest happens when people interact with a screen to input the necessary commands. It’s also possible that future units will not have screens and that technicians will use smartphones or tablets to operate them.
Giving People Early Alerts to Issues
An unexpected industrial boiler failure could cause significant disruptions to the affected company. Besides the issues stemming from a vital piece of equipment that is now dysfunctional, people may need to pay emergency call-out fees to the technicians who assess the problem and recommend how to solve it.
An IoT boiler system may not eliminate all such breakdowns, but it could substantially minimize them. A report indicated the IoT would cause a 40% reduction in equipment maintenance expenses by 2025. Connected equipment can often warn people of unusual characteristics long before those things make a machine inoperable.
One company provides a connected boiler that gathers data for each aspect representing the machine’s health. That information appears on a dashboard people can access from anywhere with an internet connection using a computer, tablet or smartphone. Users can take that information and utilize it for smarter decision-making, even if they’re nowhere near a boiler’s physical location.
This approach can cut the overall downtime of the industrial boiler, too. Some products send data feeds directly to those servicing the machine. In such cases, a technician can often get enough details to know the suspected problem before arriving at the site for a closer inspection. They could use those details to set expectations for their clients and inform them of possible next steps, such as ordering replacement parts.
Unlocking Opportunities for Automation
The internet makes it easier than ever when people need to shop for new industrial boilers. Websites allow choosing the desired parameters for a system to filter the results. People can select things like the pump configuration and horsepower, increasing the chances they’ll get the best setups for their precise needs.
Buyers understandably have various priorities when evaluating new boilers, but energy efficiency is often near the top of the list. Natural gas steam boilers have measurements that tell people how much energy is converted to steam. The boiler is highly efficient if the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating is at least 80.
Some IoT boiler systems also work with automation. Such features can make the machines even more efficient by ensuring they don’t operate unnecessarily. Dabbel is a company that uses artificial intelligence to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings.
Abel Samaniego, the company’s CEO and co-founder, explained, “Every five minutes, Dabbel reviews its decisions based on all available data. With each iteration, Dabbel improves or adapts and changes its decisions based on the current circumstances inside and outside the building. It does this by using cognitive artificial intelligence to drive a model-based predictive control (MPC) system … which can dynamically adjust all HVAC setpoints based on current/future conditions.”
A standard building management system (BMS) might fire industrial boilers for longer because it only responds to previously set parameters. Dabbel works differently by making predictions that will help it save energy via quicker responses to changing conditions. It’s a good example of how supporting technology could make an IoT boiler system pay off even more.
Saving Time for People Who Work With Boilers
Although industrial boilers can certainly operate safely, there are a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong if people don’t supervise the equipment closely enough. An IoT boiler system can save much of the time spent conducting those checks.
Rakesh Zala, the vice president of product engineering at Cleaver-Brooks, works to develop new smart boiler technologies. He gave a couple of compelling examples of how the company’s customers can use them to save time while speaking about the Cleaver-Brooks Prometha system that allows remote monitoring.
“In one Colorado manufacturing facility, the plant shuts down on the weekend, and the boiler runs in hot standby mode. The maintenance manager used to spend two to three hours traveling to and from the facility every Sunday to check on the boiler system. With Prometha, he can now view the boiler gauges remotely, which enables him to spend more time with his family.”
He continued, “Being able to view trending information is a benefit to our customers as well. One technician at a hospital in Massachusetts likes to keep a close eye on steam pressure and stack temperature. He looks at the trends to see if there are any major changes in his steam production or if he needs to put an additional boiler online based on load. He said monitoring stack temperature trends helps him know if his boiler is potentially sooting up and losing efficiency.”
An IoT boiler system lets people get real-time information that helps them better manage their time while keeping the machine running smoothly. Data also becomes a time-saver in such cases by minimizing instances where people arrive at work to find boiler-related surprises that disrupt their schedules for the rest of the day.
An Industrial Boiler System Could Be a Game-Changer
Many companies rely on industrial boilers for vital parts of their businesses. IoT connectivity can tell someone if they’re operating as they should or if problems exist. That feature could save time and money while ensuring operations continue efficiently.
Some decision-makers have not considered upgrading to smart boilers. However, the reasons here and others give them plenty of food for thought.