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GO WITH THE IOT FLOW

The IoT helps facilities managers to monitor water use, prove compliance and improve water safety, says Kevin Belben. 

Water © iStock
Water © iStock

07 May 2019 | Kevin Belben

 

Although specific to the healthcare environment, Health Technical Memorandum 04-01 lays out the requirement of safe water in healthcare premises that sets a benchmark for the development and maintenance of hot and cold-water supply systems. 


It says facilities should maintain stored cold water 

at temperatures of below 20oC, and circulate hot 

water at above 55˚C.


In addition to the memorandum and applicable to all buildings is the Approved Code of Practice L8 published by the Health & Safety Executive, entitled Legionnaire’s Disease: the Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems, which sets out the requirements for engineered water systems such as water not stagnating.


Technological advances

New IoT technologies are simplifying the management of water systems by providing accurate data to FMs. 


The IoT’s connectivity is delivering advances in:

  • Valuable mobile asset tracking;
  • Air quality monitoring;
  • Space management;
  • Security monitoring;
  • Fire and life safety systems management; and 
  • Vibration sensing to monitor HVAC equipment efficiency. 

 


The IoT inter-connects water system components in a commercial building 

or hospital, which provides FMs with greater knowledge of the system.


Any temperature monitor readings that fall outside of predefined parameters can be set to notify users or raise alarms. Through an ‘always on, always connected’ basis, monitoring is constant, eliminating the risk between manual inspections for a water system to fall outside of safe parameters. It also eliminates the staff resource requirement to undertake manual monitoring.


Stops the data dump

Systems are designed to avoid deluging FMs with data. Notifications and alarms are only raised if monitored water temperatures fall below or exceed building-specific defined parameters for hot and cold water supplies. 


Having selected start/end dates and the scope of monitoring locations, an automatic report can be generated for download to guarantee quick and easy compliance with essential H&SE reporting requirements. 


A typical system comprises three key features: temperature monitoring unit, wireless network and a portal. The unit transmits data to the cloud on the wireless network and this information is accessed from the portal with real-time updates and comprehensive reports. 


Installation and maintenance

Installation of the system is easy; the temperature monitor unit clips directly on pipework. Once installed, a simple configuration process is required, typically done on a smartphone.


Key installation parameters need to be established to confirm the sentinel points. For example, building, floor, department or room, type of water system outlet or specific business asset number. 


Each remote temperature-monitoring unit will have a unique identification number, which is assigned to the sentinel point. This builds the structure for the data to be monitored as a full system and enables pinpointing of data records.


Cost savings

To demonstrate cost in use, take a medium-sized building with 300 sentinel points as an example. It’s likely that in-house staff are used to carry out monthly temperature checking and reporting in this scenario, taking an estimated 150 hours a month. Then all the hot and cold-water wastage costs to obtain outlet temperature probe readings need to be factored in. So the actual cost to carry out current manual temperature checking in a medium-sized building is almost £35,000 a year.


Compare this with buying IoT monitoring hardware and cloud data subscriptions for 300 sentinel points, which will require an initial investment outlay in the first year of £46,000. However, tangible annual cost savings averaging at £5,000 a year will be achieved by year three and over £9,000 each year by year five. 


Using IoT for compliance

The ability to gather, store and present real-time data on water temperatures and water system use makes it easier to comply with regulations to avoid costly fines. 


And the captured data ensures that reports can be created to show compliance and continual monitoring to regulators, with a click of a button. Most crucially, accurate monitoring of water temperatures and flow events throughout buildings using IoT, will reduce health risks. 


Kevin Belben is technical applications manager at Cistermiser and Keraflo