IRELAND — Johnson Controls has been recognized by independent analyst firm Frost & Sullivan with its Best Practices Customer Value Leadership Award for 2022. The assessment, covering chiller systems in buildings in North America, pitted Johnson Controls against global peers and roundly praised the company's technology and customer service as market leading.

"Chiller systems can account for 40% of a building's total energy demand and they are one of the biggest targets for greenhouse gas reduction," said Vijay Sankaran, chief technology officer, Johnson Controls. "By installing connected chillers, or adding connectivity to existing equipment, we can optimize how a system works — reducing failures and lowering a building's total energy draw to make serious inroads into its CO2e footprint. The chiller product is itself key but so is the connected digital solution; particularly the AI-enabled predictive and remote diagnostic abilities delivered by our OpenBlue platform."

OpenBlue Services for Chillers takes advantage of real-time data drawn from more than 200 data collection points on each piece of equipment. For example, monitoring the temperature a chiller is operating at. The data gathered is compared to a model of a "perfect chiller," a model created from Johnson Controls' own statistical data compiled over more than 20 years. In the case of temperature monitoring, an alert is generated if the system readings are off by as little as half a degree from the expected range. This sort of insight allows the OpenBlue chiller experts to identify and deal with potentially critical system issues before they can cause a breakdown. The services are offered for Johnson Controls equipment and products supplied by others.

"Johnson Controls is highly customer-focused as they pay attention to client needs very broadly as well as offering focused market-leading capability with their OpenBlue Services for Chillers," said Dennis Marcell Victor, Frost & Sullivan industry analyst. "We were impressed with the proactive AI-enabled capability of OpenBlue especially its ability to extend equipment life and cut downtime in half while generating significant annual energy savings. It's exactly why we awarded them the Best Practices Customer Value Leadership Award for 2022."

Evidence of Success

One Johnson Controls hospital customer with a deployment of 100 connected chillers has seen operational and energy savings of over $200,000 in just three months post-deployment. The chillers are all monitored constantly with equipment performance benchmarked against a performance index score. If an issue is seen, any at-risk equipment is assigned for deeper root cause analysis. This level of real-time detective work has identified multiple faults and electrical surges before they could damage critical components such as motors and compressors. This has avoided safety shutdowns, expensive repairs, and the disruption and elevated energy use from a failing system or part.

Mechanical issues, over-ridden building management system controls, and improper preventive maintenance are all common risks that a connected chiller system as enabled by Johnson Controls OpenBlue helps to overcome. More broadly, areas of Johnson Controls leadership and performance in chillers identified by Frost & Sullivan include:

  • Operational efficiency and the potential to reduce chiller system downtime by up to 50%;
  • Price/performance value with Johnson Controls, offering services contracts enabling customers to move from upfront CAPEX investment to OPEX pay-as-you-go models;
  • JCI's focus on energy savings and sustainability;
  • Customer service and adaption based on a continual customer feedback cycle; and
  • Enhancing customers' experience/abilities through continual innovation.

Services and Security

Johnson Controls OpenBlue Services for Chillers offers on-going optimization capabilities such as remote diagnostics and analysis, and preventive maintenance. By offering chiller energy monitoring or real-time control optimization "as-a-service," customers can meet their sustainability goals faster by reducing operational energy costs. Digitally enabling a chiller system and managing it with Johnson Controls OpenBlue Services minimizes energy waste, which can be as high as 30% in unmanaged chiller plants. There is also an increased ability to manage HVAC assets in real-time, so maintaining and increasing equipment uptime.

"Offering chillers as a service rather than a product moves customers to a model where they pay for outcomes rather than equipment," said Ganesh Ramaswamy, president, global services. "Our new service model for chillers is another industry first and it's very customer-centric. It amortizes our clients' chiller system investment, moving from a capital cost to an operating one, and links it to Johnson Controls' expected performance that we agree in advance."

Connecting systems such as chillers also requires a born-secure approach to cybersecurity, something Johnson Controls is investing heavily in, as evidenced by the recent acquisition of Tempered Networks. The acquisition has delivered advanced zero-trust based Airwall technology into Johnson Controls digital services.

Johnson Controls' Leading Brands

Johnson Controls provides chiller systems through the York brand. York systems have been cooling buildings for more than a century and provide a wide variety of water and air-cooled industrial and commercial chillers. With chillers that can run in the widest operating conditions, York products help reduce facilities' carbon footprints, deliver healthier indoor environments, and lower energy costs.