Optimising Asset Performance to Deliver Investment Returns

In the past two years, AE Smith has won five projects with a major retail property group in Brisbane, with each project having its own complexities - from constrictive building dimensions to minimising disruptions during Christmas shopping. With each successive project, the AE Smith Brisbane team proved a solution and service-based approach is the key to success

12 Nov 2014


A shopping centre in summer without air conditioning is a nightmare…

AE Smith’s Project Manager was fantastic. He kept us informed throughout the works and was very responsive. This helped us manage the expectations of tenants

The projects were driven by the client’s need to optimise asset performance to deliver investment returns. And with HVAC typically representing 70%* of a commercial buildings energy use, choosing the right HVAC supplier, with the most efficient and cost-effective outcome, was critical.

A Solution-Based Approach

Most recently, the AE Smith team installed a new chiller at the one of the client’s shopping centres, after securing the project in a competitive tender.

Frank Booysen, Project Sales Consultant for AE Smith, is responsible for finding the right solution to meet clients’ needs.

“It’s never as simple as just specifying the most energy efficient equipment,” Frank said. “We needed to consider existing building structure and the current HVAC systems.”

The AE Smith team worked closely with the client, engineering consultant and structural engineer to solve a particularly difficult conundrum during the project: How to get a chiller the size of an elephant through a much, much smaller door?

“The chiller room doorway, built over 25 years ago, is load bearing and couldn’t be widened more than 100mm,”AE Smith Project Manager Ben Ovington said.

“This meant we only had a 20mm clearance on either side to work with,” he added.

To make the situation even more nail-biting, the chiller – weighing more than nine tons – was reversed in on the back of a flat bed truck via the only viable building entrance – a loading dock.

The AE Smith team stripped the chiller back, removing the control system and external piping, and worked closely with the structural engineer to ensure the doorway had sufficient propping to avoid any structural damage to the building. Everything was then meticulously re-built with the combined efforts of AE Smith’s electrical and mechanical engineers.

The main concern for the shopping centre’s operations manager was keeping tenants and customers happy whilst the chiller changeover took place. “A shopping centre in summer without air conditioning is a nightmare,” he explained.

“AE Smith’s Project Manager was fantastic. He kept us informed throughout the works and was very responsive. This helped us manage the expectations of tenants.”

Communication Improves Safety

The same client had another shopping centre project that was equally as complex. The objective for the new chiller unit was to increase capacity as well as efficiency.

A larger chiller was craned in via the shopping centre roof and lowered slowly down to fit between two existing chiller units. The margin for error was a limited 100mm. Even a slight breeze posed a huge risk during the operation.

“Safety is paramount during this kind of installation. We do a lot of planning to mitigate risk,” Ben Ovington said. “Both before and during the installation strong communication with everyone involved is essential.”

To improve efficiency of the chiller, AE Smith installed a Variable Speed Drive (VSD), which improves the responsiveness of the chiller unit, helping to lower the peak demand and as a result, reduce energy usage.

Project Organisation and Coordination

The third completed project for the same client involved replacement of a chiller servicing a three-level complex in the heart of Brisbane.

“The chiller had reached the end of its life and it was approaching Christmas. Without air conditioning, customers would swelter and the client would have lost revenue,” Frank Booysen said.

“We needed to find a way to replace a chiller in a weekend when it usually takes a week.”

The solution to was to work against the clock for 16 hours over a weekend, shutting down traffic in the central district of Brisbane, with the AE Smith team organising traffic control subcontractors and all council permits.

“To change over a chiller this fast relies entirely on good coordination,” Ben Ovington said.

“Thorough engineer reports informed every decision, the right people were on the job at all times and demolition and then removal of the old chiller was timed down to the minute.”

End-to-End Service

Every AE Smith energy solution is designed with maintenance in mind. An exhaustive 12-month fine-tuning process is now underway at the three shopping centres.

AE Smith will continue to work the client to improve their energy efficiency, helping to ensure a strong return on investment.

* Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning High Efficiency Systems Strategy (HVAC HESS) 2013, HVAC Energy Breakdown Factsheet, http://industry.gov.au/Energy/EnergyEfficiency/Non-residentialBuildings/HVAC/FactSheets/Documents/HVACFSEnergyBreakdown.pdf