Chris Hardy, Marketing Manager, Intergas Heating, discusses remote monitoring and how it’s revolutionising the servicing and maintenance of heating systems in social housing.
For decades, numerous industries the world over, have used remote monitoring to observe performance, generate audit trails and use the data to make continuous improvements to their service. Pioneering technology in cardio care for example, has seen capabilities taken to new levels with the development of an electric crystal that can be implanted into the pulmonary artery through keyhole surgery. The crystal, which has no battery and can stay in the patient forever, is activated by radio frequency energy through the antennae in a pillow the patient lays on and takes a reading each day. The reading of the patient’s pulmonary heart pressure is sent remotely to the medical team for review. If there is a change in pressure, the team can respond by contacting the patient and adjusting medication. Advancements in medical care using remote monitoring, are one of the leading tools improving the quality of life for those with heart failure.
While I’m not attempting to compare developments in boiler technology with the incredible strides being made in the medical profession, the remote monitoring of large scale boiler installations is already raising the bar on energy efficiency and cost control in housing associations across the country.
Intergas developed its remote monitoring facility in the Netherlands and launched it in the UK three years ago. It works by using a radio frequency module, which is fitted into every Intergas Eco RF boiler, to send and receive information wirelessly between the boiler and contractor. Up to 240 boilers can be linked in one network and monitored by one internet connection.
This facility provides a depth of information about boiler performance (from gas usage to managing heating and hot water requirements) that, previously, could only be obtained by going on site. If a fault occurs, an alert email will automatically be generated and sent to the contractor and, because the nature of the fault has been clearly identified, it’s more likely the boiler will be repaired first time
around. This approach results in a more effective use of maintenance hours as well as a reduction in costs through fewer unproductive call-outs. Now a service visit can be tailor-made – scheduled according to the condition of the boiler rather than a date on the calendar. It also means that the growing administration costs associated with trying to gain access to properties to service or repair a boiler can be brought under control.
Remote monitoring provides an additional layer of support to vulnerable people in their own homes too. If it’s freezing weather outside but the heating’s not turned on, the resident may be at risk, but this can be investigated and a potential problem prevented from developing into one. This strengthens and improves an organisation’s ability to care for the more vulnerable.
For any organisation responsible for keeping the lifetime cost of thousands of boilers in check, a remote monitoring capability will soon become a ‘must have’. But it’s not just about being smarter with service and maintenance calls or the ability to extend the life of a boiler, which is obviously important, it delivers data which gives you the big picture and helps to develop areas of best practice. Now social housing organisations can be more effective in managing their costs to run a leaner, fitter operation and customers benefit through more timely service and maintenance calls, which will reduce boiler breakdowns – but, if there is one, it’s likely to be a first-time fix.
Different but the same
The Intergas Eco RF is a smart boiler, which means it retains all the benefits that make the Intergas range so efficient, economical and reliable:
• 12 components, including four moving parts
• No secondary hot water plate heat exchanger
• No diverter valve
• No valve motor
• No auto air vent
• Condenses 100% in heating and hot water modes
• Reduces carbon emissions by 20% and energy bills by up to 5%
• Five boilers in one: can be converted to heat only, sealed system, open vent, open vent combi and...
• ...a multipoint water heater
• Heat exchanger has never had a mechanical failure since its launch over 20 years ago