There was a time, probably just 5 years ago, when regular mobile phone providing connectivity at an affordable price while allowing a person to be mobile was considered good enough. The smartphones were considered an object for the rich (due to their prices) and one used to wonder why I need such expensive phones when I can easily afford a cheaper one that serves “the purpose”. Since then, “the purpose” changed from just being able to call from anywhere to being connected all the time. And technology advances allowed the price points to reach a stage when “being connected all the time” could be as inexpensive (while providing much more value) as regular mobile phones from 5 years ago.
What does this whole thing has to do with controlling Air Conditioners (AC)?
I have come across multiple customers who say that we are installing (or have already installed) timers to control the operation of my air conditioners. These timers are primarily used to serve multiple purposes. A common purpose that we come across are to switch the ACs ON for a fixed time duration. This is to avoid misuse by operating them during non-working hours when there is no business need to keep the environment cool. This use case is largely relevant for QSRs and other retail chains. The second common use case for timers is to alternatively schedule the operation of one AC at a time when multiple are present. This is common in an ATM type of environment where there are typically 2 ACs while one is sufficient to cool the small indoor space. In such cases, the timers are used to ensure that only 1 AC is ON at a time, thus providing a cool-off period to both the ACs alternatively (extending their life) as well as saving power (by ensuring that only 1 AC is on at a time).
While taking you a step forward towards better management of Air Conditioning across your distributed infrastructure, these timers (akin to regular mobile phones from 5 years ago) are far from what “affordable technology” can allow you today (similar to affordable smartphones of today). The limitations of these timers include:
- They typically do not have in-built clock that is synchronised all the time. So while they can allow you a functionality of switching on each AC alternatively for 4 hours each at an ATM, they do not allow you the flexibility to choose which exact hours of the day to switch on which AC. Correspondingly, if one AC is not working, they will not keep another AC on for all the time (until the time the non-working AC is serviced) and would rather keep the cooling for 4 hours and let the environment heat up for the subsequent 4 hours.
- Once the time schedules are set, you have to physically visit each site to change the schedule. For a store that has scheduled the timers to switch ON for 12 hours and have programmed them in a way that this happens from around 9 AM to around 9 PM, if for some reason store hours change (or for some specific days, store hours are different), then this can not be changed at a click of a button (and is rather hard to implement if you have 100s of facilities spread across the country).
- Permutation of schedules are missing. As an example, if your requirement is to alternatively switch ON 1 AC at a time for 6 hours from 7:30 AM to 10:30 PM, and keep both the AC switched OFF from 10:30 PM to 7:30 AM, you can not put that logic with timers.
Zenatix provides a zero Cap-ex solution, called WattMan to intelligently control and schedule your air conditioning across your distributed infrastructure. Similar to smartphones of today, WattMan provides you with state of the art solution that can provide flexible time schedules (much beyond the timers) which you can set (and modify) across all your outlets at a click of a button. Beyond allowing you to set any permutation of schedules, WattMan provides you with:
- Real time alerts (SMS/Email) when temperature goes beyond the minimum and maximum threshold specified and ensure the required quality of service in terms of environmental conditions are maintained.
- Smarter temperature based control, beyond simple time based rules, to achieve greater energy savings. This allows you to override the set temperature (which someone may manually change to a very low or a very high value) in the AC thus ensuring that SOPs are being adhered to (without worrying about manual interventions)
- Accurate (based on real data) accounting of energy savings achieved with smarter control
- Smart options to over-ride the rules (time based or sensor based) in exceptional cases from within your phone. This allows you to cater to situations wherein exceptional control is required – say for a customer who may not be well and is sitting in a zone serviced by a particular air conditioner. All such exceptions are recorded and appropriately reported by the system to ensure that this feature is not misused.
- Timely alarms when your ACs need servicing. We have developed smart algorithms that look at sub-minute power and temperature data to detect different types of anomalous AC operations (e.g. compressor gas being leaked). These anomalies are flagged in time to ensure that your environmental temperature is maintained as well as to save energy on a continuous basis. Such anomaly detection is often delayed, if they are to be reported manually, with delays ranging from a few days to several weeks.
The best of all, this smart AC control, comes at zero cost to you. The hardware cost is upon us. You only pay an annual subscription fee and our promise is that your benefits will far outweigh the cost you are paying (from day one). If you do not realise the benefits we promised, you can stop the service and make us feel ashamed.
Time to move beyond the dumb timer based AC control and move ahead in time with the most recent technology (at zero cost). Sounds unbelievable – doesn’t it!