The ENTOUCH Blog

07. 9. 2014

Total Facility Intelligence is an Early Warning System for Your HVAC Controls Maintenance Program

Maintenance expenses account for 34% of total facility budgets, most of which is spent on HVAC issues. By implementing a Total Facility Intelligence energy management system, restaurants and retailers can significantly reduce the cost of maintenance and repairs.

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Today’s retailers and restaurants are struggling to keep up with their e-commerce counterparts, increasing minimum wage requirements and ever-shrinking budgets. With these issues at the forefront of owners’ minds, other issues such as facility management and repair costs can often be overlooked, but nonetheless account for a significant portion of facility spending.



According to new HVAC benchmarking research from the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM), “43 percent of retailers spend most of their maintenance expense budget on HVAC and it accounts for 34 percent of their total facility budget on average.”



That same research shows that HVAC systems are getting older and that retailers and restaurants are waiting longer for capital replacements – sometimes even past ASHRAE recommended life spans.



HVAC issues are numerous and can cost facilities hundreds or thousands of dollars per incident to fix. In fact, the PRSM reports, “the average maintenance expense per square foot is $5.02” (see chart for breakdown). Furthermore, the report indicated that “35 % of retailers maintain their stores by using a reactive only approach; items get fixed only after a problem arises.” This is a major issue for business owners, as a reactive only approach leaves minor issues to fester into bigger, more costly concerns.



TotalCosts Chart



The Role of Preventative Maintenance



Preventative maintenance (PM) helps to alleviate problems by regularly checking the equipment for compliance with specifications and by proactively identifying potential performance issues.  A comprehensive PM program is based on a scheduled system of functional assessments where filters and other replaceable parts are changed, and equipment is inspected for wear and damage.



PM is important because HVAC issues range from removal or replacement of key system components to cleaning condensing unit coils to remedying refrigerant leaks to meet compliance regulations and much more. But 49% of retailers and restaurants have less than five full-time employees in their facility maintenance department,” so identifying these issues before they get out of hand can be difficult for most facilities.



The value of PM programs is broad based and includes food and employee safety, maximizing equipment performance and reducing downtime, reducing repair costs and avoiding rush service calls – which can be triple that of a scheduled maintenance call according to PRSM.



But preventative maintenance has a cost and has to be budgeted.  Thus, in our challenging times only 56% of retail and restaurant establishments have PM programs in place, according to PRSM research.



Early Warning Building Management System



What’s needed then is an early warning system for HVAC issues that can provide additional data points to the planned maintenance technician, and, more importantly, alert facilities management at the earliest signs of an HVAC problem.



That’s where the EnTouch Total Facility Management energy management system comes in. EnTouch’s best-of-breed solution is a combination of 24/7 energy management services, cloud-based energy management software and intelligent thermostats that monitor all energy usage in connected systems.



Many performance issues first show up because the HVAC needs more energy to provide the same level of output.  Using the cloud-based EMS, facility managers can monitor this, or the EnTouch 360 EMS experts can set a baseline and any sizable increase over that baseline can trigger an alarm.  The data collected from the HVAC controls can allow a technician to remotely diagnose the issue to speed resolution time.



Other EnTouch services help companies take control of HVAC system issues.  These proactive services optimize and detect performance issues, many times before they are even noticed by those in the facility.  EnTouch’s reactive services provide automatic issue ticketing and resolution services, and we can even work directly with your HVAC technicians to get the issue closed.  Our suite of reporting services is particularly useful for multi-unit franchisees and will help maximize savings and intelligently plan capital investments.



The benefits of an automated EMS can be significant. With the solution in place, one restaurant resolved a $2,000/month issue due to an improper economizer operation. Another restaurant resolved a $1,500/month issue due to improper HVAC humidity control, which was driving a 24-hour heat cycle, which could have resulted in food spoilage if it had not been detected.



Other restaurants were able to notice failed fan belts and unchanged filters, which caused the system to freeze and had continued undetected for months. In each case, the business owner was able to automate the system and had wished they had done so sooner.



Let EnTouch Controls Total Facility Intelligence be an early warning system for your HVAC so that you can focus on everything else it takes to make your business a success. Visit http://entouchcontrols.com/products-services/entouch-360-managed-services/ for more information.



Check out our  EnTouch For Restaurants page.



Check out our  EnTouch For Retail page.




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