A Breath of Fresh Air for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Innovation in the Pilbara

A Breath of Fresh Air for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Innovation in the Pilbara

February 2021

For many years, Sodexo has provided Integrated Facilities Management for mining operations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia; this includes maintaining numerous offices and other air-conditioned buildings to support these operations.

The extreme nature of the ambient environment due to dust, heat and high humidity can cause issues with equipment failure, mould, occupant discomfort, condensation, high operating costs, and damage to building assets. In this environment, one of the greatest challenges for HVAC is due to the remoteness and variability of weather conditions across the large Pilbara region.

Sodexo manages remote accommodation for Rio Tinto in North West WA and understands the importance of resident comfort and quality of life and the impact it can have on performance, safety, and by extension, overall mine productivity. Unexpected equipment failure in these extreme climates can cause occupant discomfort and lead to employee fatigue.  It’s vital for HVAC equipment to be fixed quickly, however, it can be extremely costly in these remote areas. 

To actively address these challenges, Sodexo is moving to manage residential housing air-con units remotely via the Internet of Things.  This solution would not only allow Sodexo to monitor operating conditions remotely for maintenance requirements but also pick up on live faults as they occur to pre-empt impending failures, significantly reducing downtime of units and reactive repairs.

Sodexo, AirSkill, MyDevices and Temperzone have been developing a bespoke remote monitoring system to actively review the large package units currently servicing the residential Rio Tinto portfolio. 

The Temperzone VPA unit is specially designed to survive in the high ambient temperatures of the Pilbara region. The ability to connect Temperzone Vertical Package Units (VPA) directly to the Internet via standard sockets on their system was a critical element in Sodexo choosing Temperzone equipment.  Temperzone’s VPA units also integrate with the MyDevices system, allowing Sodexo to remotely monitor and manage the Temperzone air conditioning units from their IFMS Command Centre in Perth, or anywhere in the world with internet connection through Cloud-based technology.

Following rigorous series of tests to verify Internet connectivity, remote connection to the Command Centre and performance monitoring, a pilot project is on track to be rolled out to select resident housing and accommodation units in the Pilbara.

Remote performance monitoring and preventative maintenance are critical in remote regions where we operate, enabling our Remote Location Facilities Managers to deliver the best service to our clients and consumers while managing equipment efficiently and reliably.