Lochinvar calls for renewed focus on commissioning
Rushed or poorly planned commissioning is undermining the heating and hot water industry’s efforts to reduce energy use and narrow the building ‘performance gap’, according to manufacturer Lochinvar.
Ambitious low carbon targets and greater awareness of the impact of buildings on occupant health has raised the profile of the building services sector. It has also highlighted the important role of the commissioning specialist in making sure that key equipment installations are set up correctly and, therefore, will continue to perform well throughout their operating life.
However, deadlines on building projects can often be so tight that the commissioning of heating and hot water equipment is sometimes arranged just a few hours before the building needs to be handed over. This can make it difficult to address any problems, according to Lochinvar’s service manager Paul Mitchell.
“We do what we can under the circumstances, but advanced planning and earlier involvement of specialists would help deliver a better long-term outcome for the building user,” he said. “Commissioning of heating and hot water equipment should be considered as early as possible in the process so that easy access to the equipment is included in the design and comprehensive technical information is passed on to the commissioning team.
“This not only helps with the handover process, but also means the pieces are in place for ongoing service and maintenance,” added Mr Mitchell.
Lochinvar believes a collaborative approach is more important than ever because of the growing trend of integrating renewable technologies, such as heat pumps with high efficiency boilers and water heaters. The initial set up of such systems is particularly crucial in ensuring that a system with different technologies works in harmony.
“Manufacturers have intimate knowledge of their products and applications, and their commissioning engineers will already have experienced most of the technical challenges they are likely to meet,” said Mr Mitchell. “This allows them to quickly identify potential issues and ensure the system is set up to perform well throughout its operating life.”
The commissioning team at Lochinvar is able to make sure boilers and water heaters operate at maximum efficiency from day one and can spot potential problems quickly because of their detailed knowledge. They will also issue a commissioning report, which is a valuable resource for facilities managers as it helps ensure warranty conditions are met.
The company’s engineers are also able to assist on-site staff with the operation of the equipment, including some targeted training.
“As buildings become more complex and performance challenges increase, the role of the commissioning engineer must be given greater attention and status,” said Mr Mitchell.
“The secret with increasingly sophisticated heating and hot water solutions is to ensure the sophistication remains behind the scenes and the equipment is relatively simple to operate for the building occupiers; otherwise, the performance will drift over time.”