At the moment, both the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) still play minor roles in refrigeration and heating technology. But that will change very quickly. We have observed that many developments first occur in other industries, such as the automotive industry, and then rapidly become important to the refrigeration and heating sector. After all, energy savings and efficiency increases are key issues for users who want to accelerate the transformation towards climate neutrality. That is why our team is always working on making our chillers and heat pumps as efficient as possible. Predictive maintenance, for example, can make a positive contribution. It allows us to track remotely whether a customer’s machine is operating at high efficiency – and to react if necessary. But predictive maintenance only makes sense if the data are analysed with the help of AI. Without it, people would have to manually analyse and evaluate millions of pieces of information, which is simply not possible. But AI applications are perfect for the task – and on top of that they are faster, cheaper and more precise.
We believe you either pick up a new development early on, or you end up chasing after the trend – and we at ENGIE Refrigeration intend to be at the cutting edge. That is why we have been working on a predictive maintenance project since the start of 2021. It is based on our current Cool Care hardware, which we developed when we redesigned our QUANTUM Water chillers. As a remote maintenance solution, Cool Care enables us to record chiller data continuously and on a large scale for the first time. We are now building on this basis in several stages, and will probably focus on the ‘machine learning’ version of AI.
In early 2022 we will launch a test phase, during which we will use artificial intelligence to process and evaluate machine data and then draw the resulting conclusions. We will start with an in-house test device, but we will work with selected customers on rapid implementation. We have already received enquiries from several partners who want to take this step with us. Overall I have observed a growing interest in AI applications on the market – even in highly sensitive areas such as the data centre industry. I believe it is no longer possible to avoid artificial intelligence; its benefits clearly outweigh its disadvantages. Of course, ENGIE Refrigeration meets the highest possible security standards for data transfer and machine access. We rely on a ‘defence in depth’ strategy in line with IEC 62443. We ensure system security by means of user management and authentication, and we close communication channels. Users can be absolutely certain that data protection and data security are our top priority.
We are also focussing on smartglasses. Since 2018, the development department at ENGIE Refrigeration has been using augmented reality (AR) glasses to create three-dimensional virtual objects. However, we quickly brushed up against the limitations of first-generation AR glasses. Now that the technology has advanced, we are working on mixed reality (MR/AR) glasses specifically for our service department. We aim to enable our service employees, for example, to receive fast and precise 3rd-level assistance on site in complex situations via live camera. We also plan to equip all the components of our products with QR codes, so they can be recorded and identified by means of smartglasses; during the last expansion stage, it will be possible to order those components with a simple hand movement – something we know from volume control in cars, for example. As you can see, there is huge potential here.
They will do so in the coming months. I’m sure you understand that I’d rather not give any more details at this stage. But I can tell you that our team is working on it with plenty of expertise and passion. We at ENGIE Refrigeration have always assumed a pioneering role when it comes to programming and electronics. Artificial intelligence is my personal hobby horse. That’s why I want to be at the forefront in terms of artificial intelligence and smartglasses. And we are on the right course: we already have the necessary infrastructure and the right safety channels to utilise the high computing capacity of artificial intelligence in our machines. So we are ready for the future.
Our mission is to provide our customers with refrigeration and/or heating as simply as possible, and as permanently as necessary. From this perspective, predictive maintenance is a full-service package. Users don’t need to take care of anything, and can instead concentrate on their core business. Ideally they won’t even notice that ENGIE Refrigeration is working for them. My vision: we identify a problem as it occurs, before the customer notices it, and immediately rectify or even prevent it. There is no need for us to visit the customer to analyse the problem, and we can bring spare parts along if we do need to be on site. With predictive maintenance, we can also provide better assistance to our customers if they encounter control and efficiency problems. This saves time and money.
I don’t believe that AI applications have any limits. In theory, anything is possible – limitations are always the result of limited resources, such as time and money. From my perspective, artificial intelligence is the future. And the corresponding tools are essential, especially in terms of efficiency increases. I am also thinking of our EER Autocontrol solution, which enables intelligent control of our chillers and can thus be thought of as a precursor to artificial intelligence. It could not have been implemented with the technological capabilities that existed just a few years ago, and now we have integrated it in our QUANTUM Water as standard. And opportunities will only continue to increase in future – the coming years are going to be pretty exciting.
In short: to every one of them. Early detection of technical changes in the machine is especially valuable to customers who require extremely high machine availability, for example to ensure precise room temperatures in a clean room or a data centre, or who operate multiple machines simultaneously. In principle, however, all customers will be able to make their chillers and heat pumps more economical with our AI-based applications. The key here is to increase efficiency, which we do with smart solutions. Energy costs are always the strongest drivers; procurement and service costs lag far behind. Optimised control allows us to improve efficiency and lower energy costs by significant amounts. So customers protect their wallets – and benefit the environment at the same time. Even users who run their thermeco2 high-temperature heat pump or QUANTUM chiller with green heat recovery on renewable energy and are thus already climate-neutral can reduce their use of climate-neutral energy. This is how we and our customers contribute towards the energy transformation with our smart products.
Food production is one of the most sensitive industries. In this sector, heating supply requirements are particularly exacting. What reliable solutions does ENGIE Refrigeration provide to meet these requirements? The expert Frank Glaser, a key account manager for industrial and commercial heating at ENGIE Refrigeration, explains using the Osatina Group as an example.
What does the heat supply of the future look like? An interdisciplinary team at ENGIE Refrigeration has been focussing on this question for the past few months. The result: our new SPECTRUM Water heat pump, which has been available worldwide since 28 March 2022. Our employees explain the product characteristics and special benefits of this model in our ‘on point.’ magazine.
The redesigned QUANTUM Water from ENGIE Refrigeration has been available for about half a year. How is the model being received on the international market? And which properties do customers appreciate most? Our expert Daniel Keller, head of product and application management at ENGIE Refrigeration, shares his initial conclusions and talks about plans for the coming months.
Demand for heating is increasing around the world: experts predict growth rates of around 5 per cent for the global market for local and district heat in the coming years. Conventional heat supplies based on fossil fuels were often chosen in the past, but heat pumps represent an investment in a sustainable future – for example, the thermeco2 high-temperature heat pump and the Spectrum heat pump from ENGIE Refrigeration.
Airports are the hubs of our globalised world. Refrigeration technology plays a key role in ensuring that processes run smoothly and visitors feel comfortable in the terminal buildings. In this interview our expert Bernd Heine, Head of Sales Support, explains what the aviation industry requires from chillers – and the sophisticated solutions that ENGIE Refrigeration provides for this business sector. In addition, he presents the best practices we have developed in our many years of experience.
From producing companies and data centres to hospitals and hotels: wherever companies use refrigeration on an industrial scale, they produce valuable waste heat. Anyone who utilises this waste heat saves energy, lowers operating costs and protects the environment – a real win-win-win situation. With its smart chillers with heat recovery, ENGIE Refrigeration assists businesses on their path to greater efficiency and sustainability.
If the required refrigeration capacity is not (or no longer) adequate during major events, winter amusements or seasonal peak demand, or if an important system fails, solutions must be produced quickly. However, permanent expansions to cover temporary refrigeration requirements involve additional investment costs and are only very rarely worthwhile.
The digitalisation of the economy is advancing in leaps and bounds, and it has not steered clear of the refrigeration sector. In this interview, our expert Senad Handanovic, head of MSR at ENGIE Refrigeration, explains the digital features of the redesigned QUANTUM Water – and the added value that these chillers therefore offer their users.
An interdisciplinary team at ENGIE Refrigeration spent about a year working hard to redevelop the water-cooled QUANTUM Water series – and managed to set a new standard on the international refrigeration market. How did employees experience this period, what were their goals, and what do they believe makes the QUANTUM Water so unique? CoolDown magazine took a closer look.
For which areas are applications with heat recovery suitable ? And how does this technology help operating companies lower their costs? Our expert Markus Enzensperger answers these questions in our interview.