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‘QUANTUM Water is the chiller for the future’

26 July 2021

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.

Mr Handanovic, a few days ago ENGIE Refrigeration launched the QUANTUM Water. What role do digital features play in the design process?

A major role! Digitalisation is one of the megatrends of our age. That is why we at ENGIE Refrigeration have long been exploring which digital functionalities we can integrate in our chillers and heat pumps, and which advantages we can thereby generate for users. Admittedly, the refrigeration industry is lagging behind many other sectors when it comes to this topic. But the thinking is changing, slowly but surely. At ENGIE Refrigeration we want to be a pioneer when it comes to digitalising refrigeration and heating technology. Like many other companies, we have been affected by the events of the past months: our existing digitalisation projects were sped up significantly by the Covid-19 pandemic. Leaving aside the further development of our QUANTUM chiller, this initially concerned how we work together as a team, as we were forced to work remotely from one day to the next. Looking back, I can say that it was a significant help in getting ahead – for the QUANTUM Water as well.

Which functionalities make the QUANTUM Water so smart?

How can we create added value for our customers? At ENGIE Refrigeration we always focus on this question – and we did so during the redesign of our water-cooled QUANTUM series. The chiller was developed to meet future requirements. We started by asking how we could positively affect thermodynamics and efficiency with digital features. To that end, we concentrated on hardware, software and visualisation. We developed entirely new software and the corresponding processes, for example, in order to improve the quality and flexibility of our products. The ‘continuous integration’ concept allows us to integrate new functionalities more quickly and flexibly. The QUANTUM Water also contains an entirely new feature: ‘Smart Control’.

What exactly is Smart Control, and what are the benefits?

When it came to the human machine interface (HMI), i.e. the visualisation, of the new QUANTUM Water, we decided to break new ground. This ground is not just new for ENGIE Refrigeration, but for the entire refrigeration industry. For the first time we have changed over to end-device operation; this means that we now offer the QUANTUM Water chiller without a permanently installed touch panel upon request. The advantage is clear. Thanks to Smart Control, end users are able to control the QUANTUM Water with their own end device. The cross-platform display allows users to connect at any time and from any place, via smartphone, tablet or PC: from their mobile office or the company building, they can access a chiller in the cellar or a chiller on the roof. To achieve this, we developed a new visualisation based on HTML5, and we made it especially easy and intuitive to operate. This significantly increases ease of use. Smart Control is especially useful for all companies that operate a machine park. Thanks to Smart Control, anyone who needs to navigate multiple chillers can now do this centrally and easily with their own end device – instead of having to operate a separate panel for each machine as they had to before. The process becomes simpler, and costs are reduced. This application is typical for data centres, but Smart Control is also suitable for many other industries – from automotive manufacturers and suppliers to pharmaceutical and chemical companies and industrial process cooling.

Speaking of costs, how does Smart Control affect maintenance and service?

In short: Smart Control helps lower investment and service costs for our customers. First, the customer does not need a replacement device in storage to react quickly in the event of a malfunction. Second, service technicians can act faster and more efficiently during troubleshooting. For example, they can stand directly in front of a valve while actuating it from their end device and thus observe the reaction. Previously this was only possible by putting in a lot of effort.

The new QUANTUM Water - the most efficient chiller on the market!

What other digital features does the QUANTUM Water have?

Another new feature of the QUANTUM Water is that we have made remote maintenance easier, thus supplying our customers with even better service. To that end, we have integrated our ‘Cool Care’ hardware as a standard. This remote maintenance solution was previously available as an option, and demand for it was rising. We have responded to this development by integrating the feature, and customers consequently do not face additional charges for ‘Cool Care’. In practical terms, this means that the QUANTUM Water chiller just needs to be connected to the internet – and the ENGIE team can access its PLC and control panel. Operating companies save money they would have spent on travel for our service technicians. This is fully in line with ENGIE’s zero carbon strategy: we want to reduce CO2 wherever possible. Remote maintenance can help, at the national and international levels.
We have also developed a new commissioning tool that is used by our service specialists. They can now parametrise a QUANTUM Water chiller offline and then transfer the data to multiple identical chillers as necessary. This considerably simplifies and accelerates commissioning.

To what extent are the digital features you mentioned for the QUANTUM Water unique on the refrigeration market?

We are very proud of our new Smart Control tool. Another unique thing is that we have been working with Siemens for many years, so we can offer our products with a top-quality PLC ‘made in Germany’. This distinguishes us from many of our competitors. Innovation and quality come first for ENGIE Refrigeration – and our customers can rely on that, today and in the future.

Many companies are afraid of cyberattacks. How do you ensure cybersecurity for the QUANTUM Water?

Data protection and data security are our top priority. So users do not need to worry about remote maintenance. We work closely with our customers to ensure maximum cybersecurity. At ENGIE Refrigeration we rely on a ‘defence in depth’ strategy according to IEC 62443. We ensure the system’s safety by means of user management and authentication, and we close communication channels. In the interest of network safety, we pursue a ‘whitelisting’ strategy and only open communication ports for operating companies if they are actually required. We continuously check and optimise all our cybersecurity measures. In the process, we call on the expertise and cybersecurity strategy of the ENGIE group, which puts us in an excellent position both in terms of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). This is another area where we are ahead of many other companies.

We’d like to finish the interview with a look at the future: which digital features is ENGIE Refrigeration contemplating for other chiller and heat pump series?

With our QUANTUM Water and new modular software, we have created a basis from which we can press ahead, step by step, with further digitalisation projects for our chillers and heat pumps. This naturally applies to all new developments, but we are also planning upgrades to existing products, above all our QUANTUM Air chillers. Customers can already look forward to smart new functionalities, which will emerge during the course of 2022. I can tell you that we have a great many plans!

Mr Handanovic, thank you for talking to us.

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