Skip to main content

It’s the System, Not the Widget

By March 18, 2014December 26th, 2021Briefs

Team building

Great defense wins championships.  Great defense, offense, and coaching working together creates a cohesive team that establishes winning dynasties, see Figure 1[1].  Energy efficient systems can be thought of in the same way if deep savings and cost-effective long-term solutions are desired.  Let’s compare the profile of a winning team to an industrial refrigerated warehouse.  Here is the line-up:

  1. The efficient refrigeration compressor as: the superstar
  2. The sequenced compressor system as: the impenetrable defense
  3. The optimized space loads as: the nimble offense
  4. The controls as: the legendary coach
  5. The system interactions as: “lucky breaks”
  6. And last, but not least, the facilities director as: general manager

The superstar inspires and keeps the standards high. A fourth round pick compressor has an efficiency of 1.2 kW/ton and the superstar has one of 0.8 kW/ton. Individual equipment efficiency is the most recognizable upgrade, just like our superstar.  It’s easy to see that gains are to be had with him.

Even so, the superstar is rendered weak without his base of loyal playmakers.  These workhorses are the unsung heroes that make average systems perform day in and day out.  The sequenced compressor system works together, with machine-like precision and optimal curves, to make the plays for the superstar look effortless.  One goes, then the other, pass back, all pull ahead, full transition, full stop.

The offense has a plan to succeed and will adjust as needed depending on the present conditions.  A well-insulated and air-sealed enclosure ensures that loads placed on the defense are kept to minimum.  The resulting offense can now be smaller (right-sized) and the replacements too, for the life of the facility/program.  An optimized lighting design with occupancy controls and variable speed evaporator fans further deepen the offensive prowess.

Smart coaching always uses a work smarter, not harder approach.  Why play today, when the game isn’t until tomorrow?  Controls will allow the system to react and remain stable under a nearly infinite number of varying scenarios.  Like a legendary coach, a control system takes average equipment and optimizes it to work as efficiently as possible.  Once the playbook is established, the general manager merely has to monitor and maintain operations.

Chance favors the prepared – Plan, implement, evaluate, learn, repeat…

It’s difficult to beat a solid plan, and when all is working together, good things happen.  There are many system interactions that save energy and take advantage of system integration and optimization.  It may take some time and continuous improvement to build a cohesive system, but it should be the end-goal of every well-intentioned operation!

As our superstar Pelé said,   “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”

[1] Photo source:

Michaels Energy

Author Michaels Energy

More posts by Michaels Energy