Intelli-Hood: Preventive Maintenance Is Critically Important (Not Just in Times of Crisis)

Preventive maintenance is truly important to your business’ operation. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, many business owners are continuously evaluating their corporate strategies to determine contingency plans. However, as we ride this roller coaster of uncertainty together, it is important to not just strategize for short-term implications of the virus. Now is the time to determine the best steps — like preventive maintenance and reducing the risk of damage to unoccupied buildings — to assist your company on the road to recovery.

And, just like any rollercoaster at an amusement park, the beginning and end have a pinnacle moment. Currently, we are adapting to the changes being implemented to minimize the impact. How we adapt will influence what the pinnacle moment will look like as we return to normalcy.

Of course, it is anticipated by many that financial strains will be incurred by companies across the United States as well as the world. In recent years, the buzzword “resiliency” has swept many energy tradeshows. One thing to add to this — although not glamorous — is the critical importance of executing preventative maintenance on equipment. A few benefits of preventative maintenance include:

  • Maximizing the efficiency of the equipment
  • Reducing downtime cost
  • Avoiding costly, last-ditch-effort service repairs
  • Improving reliability

Therefore, during an economic challenge, it is critically important to the bottom line of any company to have its systems operating correctly.

Intelli-Hood preventive maintenance

Intelli-Hood Preventive Maintenance

Melink Corp has implemented Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) systems across thousands of kitchens as an energy control measure to reduce operating costs. When preventive maintenance is not performed, it can lead to expensive repairs and downtime. Consider these examples…

Systems are designed to “fail safe,” meaning even a simple error can result in all associated fans operating at 100% speed.

One VFD reaches its end-of-life cycle and fails. Instead of replacing the component, Operations decides it is best to bypass the VFD, which now has fans operating 24/7.

These examples have obvious implications to the facility’s bottom line and operating costs.

And taking the idea of preventive maintenance even further, businesses should plan for staff turnover. For example, if a system was installed 15 years ago, the likelihood of the same staff on site is low. Therefore, it is important to have all individuals trained on the equipment to understand standard maintenance operations.

Taking Preventive Maintenance Steps

So how can your business prevent fix-on-fail for DCKV systems and other equipment?

Discuss with manufacturers to see if preventative maintenance services are offered. The cost of a service is low compared to the potential savings that can be lost with a system not operating correctly. The goal is to have a company maximize its bottom line to become financially stable or, should I say, resilient.

Think of preventive maintenance actions as opportunities. Take advantage of the opportunity to complete a preventative maintenance service. This is the time to make adjustments to maximize efficiency and provide training to your team. All this assures your facility’s DCKV system is operating correctly to maximize comfort within the work environment.

We shall all remain hopeful and confident that through working together, we can ride out the roller coaster ride of COVID-19. Melink’s team of technicians is available to help with Intelli-Hood preventive maintenance or troubleshooting. Or maybe you’re wondering if it’s time to discuss a facility upgrade for your aging system. Contact us today.  

Specifying Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation Systems: Top 10 Best Practices

For many of us in the commercial kitchen ventilation industry, we have seen major evolutions in Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) over the last 20+ years. Some have been good – codes once prohibiting automatic variable-speed fans now allow them and often even require them. And some have been bad – several manufacturers have gone down-market to the point their controls are saving very little energy if any at all.

Cook using DCKV with visual optics to adjust fan speeds based on his cooking activity.

The general trend has been positive though because DCKV is no longer a niche but a mainstream solution across the U.S. and increasingly around the world. Running exhaust and make-up air fans at 100% speed all day long regardless of the actual cooking load is antithetical in the sustainability and IoT age in which we now live. As buildings, cars, and everything else get smarter and more efficient, it is only logical that kitchen ventilation systems do as well.

As the original pioneer and market leader of DCKV since the early 1990’s, we at Melink Corporation want to continue helping building owners save energy – safely, cost-effectively, and efficiently. Having installed over 15,000 systems worldwide, we have assessed the most common problems in the marketplace and feel uniquely qualified to provide the following Top 10 Best Practices for specifiers.

TOP 10 BEST PRACTICES

1. Unless the foodservice consultant has knowledge and experience with fans and motors, he/she should consider letting the consulting engineer specify the hoods and DCKV system. The reason is, DCKV is a control system for the exhaust and make-up air fans on the roof. Though the kitchen hoods are ducted to these fans, they are comparatively simple stainless-steel boxes that only contain the rising heat and smoke from the cooking operations. The actual work of removing this heat and smoke is performed by the fans and motors on the roof along with their controls. Foodservice consultants, of course, provide a vital service in specifying the kitchen equipment below the ceiling, and this can still include the kitchen hoods and DCKV system if they have the requisite knowledge and experience of the rest of the ‘system’ above the ceiling. Otherwise, costly errors such as those described below are apt to occur.

2. The DCKV drives must match the fan motor ratings on the roof. If the foodservice consultant cannot obtain the voltage, phase, and frequency information from the ‘M’ drawings, or provide the fan package along with the hoods to ensure a proper match, the wrong drives can be specified and sent to the jobsite. This often causes frustration, time delays and extra costs. Moreover, the DCKV drives should come from tier 1, brand-recognizable manufacturers that have enough confidence in their product to offer a 3-year warranty. These highly sophisticated electronic devices are the beating heart of every DCKV system and therefore should not be selected based on low cost only. Performance and reliability should be the top consideration.

3. The DCKV system must be compatible with the make-up air heating (and cooling, if applicable) system. If the foodservice consultant does not communicate the minimum speed setting of the drives or provide the fan package with the hoods to ensure proper matching, the wrong type of make-up air system can be specified and sent to the jobsite. Not all make-up air systems are capable of heating and/or cooling at low-to-medium speeds and therefore the assumed energy savings by the foodservice consultant will not be achieved for his/her customer. This often causes frustration to everyone involved, and most importantly buyer angst and future bad-will because the purpose in he/she agreeing to buy the DCKV system was to maximize energy savings.

4. The specifier should weigh the risks vs benefits of adding modulating dampers inside the grease ducts for the following reasons: a) Dampers are obstructions inside grease ducts and such ducts are better designed to be completely open for the easy removal of heat and grease/smoke; b) These obstructions add resistance to airflow which force the fan motors to work harder and expend more energy, not less; c) Modulating dampers add another level of moving parts to the system which require regularly scheduled maintenance; d) These dampers are mounted inside the duct and above the ceiling where they are either likely to be damaged by hood cleaners or never seen again and maintained; e) When–not if–these dampers fail, the consequences can be serious if the heat and grease/smoke accumulate to the point of causing a fire; f) These dampers are often used in high-rise applications where only one duct can be run up to the roof and connected to one fan – making the consequences of a fire all the greater because there is more property and human life at stake; g) If more than one damper closes, the fan can cause such a severe negative pressure inside the grease duct that it collapses and renders the entire system unusable and in need of replacement (yes, we have seen this before). Most all engineers agree these risks are not worth the potential benefits.

Please see the photo below of a damper causing almost 100% blockage inside a grease duct. Also see the photo of a hood collar and fire suppression system coated in grease which can act like a ‘glue’ to the dampers above.

5. The engineer should design a dedicated exhaust fan for each kitchen hood whenever possible to improve reliability and energy savings. This allows each hood/fan system to operate independently according to the actual cooking load. It also eliminates the risks of a multi-hood system connected to a single fan which include the following: a) There is no redundancy in the event the single fan goes down due to a fan, motor, drive, or belt failure; b) There is no justification to use modulating dampers inside the grease ducts to achieve energy savings (see above).

6. The engineer or consultant should specify direct-drive fans whenever possible to further improve reliability and energy savings. In the old days, fan and motor pulleys and belts were used to adjust the fan speed to achieve the proper airflows during the original air balance. But today, the DCKV drives can be programmed for a minimum and maximum speed and thereby eliminate the need for these pulleys and belts. This improves reliability because belts are the infamous weak-link in most every HVAC system; and it improves energy savings because belts just create additional efficiency losses in the system.

7. The specifier should consider DCKV systems with both temperature and optic sensors for maximum energy savings on Type I hoods. This is because there are two main by-products of most cooking processes: heat and smoke/steam. If the DCKV system only senses heat, it will not quickly respond to a fast-rising plume of smoke/steam into the canopy. As a result, the hood will ‘spill’ this smoke/steam into the kitchen space and cause comfort, health, and other concerns. The typical way to counter this problem is to program the DCKV system at a high minimum speed of 80-90% with a low-temperature duct-stat so that the fans operate at 100% even with the slightest amount of heat. However, this eliminates most of the fan energy and conditioned air savings that your customers want during idle-cooking conditions.

We recommend both temperature and optic sensors–to detect both heat and smoke/steam. This allows the DCKV system to be programmed at a much lower minimum speed of 30-50% with a wider temperature span so that average fan speeds can be 60-80% and quickly go to 100% only when there is cooking smoke/steam present inside the hood. Though the optic sensor adds a slight cost premium, the additional operating savings will typically more than offset this cost within 1-2 years. If designed smartly, you will only need one optic sensor per hood, not one optic sensor per appliance. And if designed smartly, you will not have to worry about the optic sensor getting fouled with grease over time because it will be out of the air stream and protected by other capabilities (ie. air-purging, auto-calibrating) to ensure maximum energy savings each and every day.

Of course, if the cooking operations are mainly ovens and do not produce smoke/steam, then the optic sensors can be deleted from the specification to reduce first cost. But optic sensors would provide future flexibility in the event new and different appliances are installed. Moreover, optic sensors are fast-acting whereas temperature sensors are slow-acting, and this complementary combination makes for a safe and reliable control strategy. The lessons being learned from Boeing’s failure to use the right number and type of sensors as well as time-tested algorithms in its new 737Max airplanes are in some ways relevant to our industry. A first-cost obsession can be dangerous.

8. The specifier should be willing and able to logically argue against efforts to reduce the first cost of the DCKV system in the name of value-engineering. As indicated, we live in a world that often thinks in terms of first-cost only rather than total life-cycle cost. And this means that sometimes the optic sensors, if not the entire DCKV system, get value-engineered out of the specification. This is another reason why the consulting engineer is often better suited to specify the DCKV system. He/she is typically better able to make an informed argument to the architect and building owner that a well-engineered DCKV system is fundamental to the safety, health, comfort, and energy efficiency of a kitchen and these should not be compromised.

Having said this, we have also worked with highly-qualified foodservice consultants who have taken the time to learn the savings, costs, risks, and benefits of the various technologies and are just as capable of making this argument.

If a first-cost mindset continues to prevail, then the engineer or consultant should rely on the DCKV manufacturer to provide a comprehensive ‘energy savings report’ to show the expected financial payback and ROI based on the pertinent operating assumptions. The architect and building owner need to understand what they would give up in energy savings if they just install a code-minimum, auto on/off system. Fortunately, the world is increasingly trying to lower its carbon footprint – and this means maximizing energy savings, not just meeting code minimums for safety purposes.

9. Specify the DCKV system to be commissioned by the manufacturer or its trained/authorized representative for every installation prior to turnover to operations. It is our experience that too many systems have not been tested to ensure the owners will ever realize the energy savings they have been led to expect. Without this service, countless systems are operating at 100% speed all day long. We have found this problem at many locations where we are called to investigate as an independent commissioning firm. Invariably, the facilities managers state the systems have run this way for years. Verification and commissioning are essential.

10. Specify the DCKV system to have remote monitoring capabilities to ensure proper operation and energy savings for the life of the system. Like a car or any mechanical/electrical system, proper operation and performance are essential to ensuring a happy customer for life. And, therefore, remote monitoring is a highly beneficial and even necessary feature. Unfortunately, very few DCKV systems are equipped with this capability and so the specifier and the customer need to know which ones are and are not. In this day and age every facility manager should be able to ‘see’ how his/her systems are performing online.

If you follow these Top 10 Best Practices, you will not only save significantly more energy for your customers and the world at large, you will likely improve your reputation as an expert and be more successful in growing your business. At the least, be mindful that DCKV systems ‘touch on’ multiple professions and trades and therefore we encourage you to help promote good communication between the foodservice consultant and consulting engineer.

DCKV as a technology has grown leaps and bounds over the last 20+ years. We hope you and your customers fully benefit from all these advancements well into the future.

Contact us here or call us if you have any questions at 513-965-7300.

Intelli-Hood Cincinnati Zoo Restaurant Retrofit

Context

Base Camp Cafe at the Cincinnati Zoo was due for a remodel project in 2013 and took the opportunity to retrofit the restaurant with environmentally sustainable features. They set the goal of achieving LEED Gold certification, but meeting the requirements posed much challenge. Below are the restaurant kitchen conditions:

  • Total motor power: 10 HP
  • Daily operating hours: 14
  • Days per week: 7
  • Weeks per year: 52
  • Cost per kilowatt hour: $.10
  • Climate zone: 5
  • Customers per year: 1.4 million

 

Results

The Cincinnati Zoo Sustainability Team chose to install Intelli-Hood Controls to gain credits toward their pursuit of a LEED Gold-certified cafe. The Zoo previously worked with Melink for a solar canopy project. Since 2013, Base Camp Cafe has been ranked the greenest restaurant in the nation, as measured by The Green Restaurant Association. This association granted them 473 points for the different green elements of their restaurant, with their energy reduction accounting for 220 points, or 47% of their score.

 

Energy savings graphic

The following is a five day fan speed graph at the Base Camp cafe:

Green graphic

 

Here are a before (navy) and after (green) reductions in kilowatt hours, heat load and exhaust volume:

energy data before and after Intelli-Hood

 

The facilities team at the Cincinnati Zoo commented on their impression of Intelli-Hood and working with Melink:

“I appreciate that Intelli-Hood is automated, it’s one less thing to worry about in managing a restaurant. We don’t have to remind people to turn it on and off. We get savings by letting the system run on it’s on.”
– Tony James, Cincinnati Zoo, Facilities Management

 

“Melink was detail-oriented and, to be honest, a lot more on-the-ball than we were. They were responsive to the fine-tuning issues that came about, such as sensors getting dirty with grease.”
– Greg Speidel, HGC Construction, Project Manager

 

“Restaurants are huge energy hogs, it’s also where you can get your money back.”
– Mark Fisher, Cincinnati Zoo, Director of Sustainability

 

COULD INTELLI-HOOD BE A FIT FOR MY PROJECT?

Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save within your commercial or industrial kitchens?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.

EMAIL THIS CASE STUDY OR SHARE IT TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA BY CLICKING THE ICONS BELOW.

Intelli-Hood Hiram College Retrofit

Context

Like the majority of colleges and universities without kitchen demand control ventilation (DCV) in their dining halls, Hiram College was using inefficient hood fans to cool down their kitchens and to keep employees safe. Running at 100% capacity without any actual cooking occurring, the hood exhaust fans were wasting energy and pushing the meter higher and higher. As a consequence, Hiram experienced expensive utility bills. Below is the operation information for the kitchens:

  • Total motor power: 12. HP
  • Daily operating hours: 17
  • Days per week: 7
  • Weeks per year: 52
  • Cost per kilowatt hour: $.09
  • Climate zone: 5

 

Results

Hiram pursued Brewer-Garrett (BG), a performance contractor for energy efficiency, to consult them in energy efficiency upgrades. BG evaluated their kitchens and cafeterias to identify four areas with high energy consumption. BG recommended four Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) for these spaces, all of which fell into their 15 year ROI program. Having seen successful ROI performance with Intelli-Hood kitchen hood controls in previous projects, BG included the technology as 1 of 4 ECMs for Hiram.

 

 

Hiram College Savings Results with Intelli-Hood

 

The following is a typical one day variable fan speed graph using Intelli-Hood:

Typical fan speed graph using Intelli-Hood kitchen hood controls

 

 

Here are a before (navy) and after (green) reductions in kilowatt hours, heat load and exhaust volume:

hiram college demand control kitchen venilation before and after reductions

 

The Brewer-Garrett team commented on their impression of Intelli-Hood and working with Melink:

“You guys have the optimal product for smoke sensing. The cooking sensing technology identifies heat and/or smoke more accurately than other manufacturers. Melink also provides a very thorough turnkey solution, which was very helpful.”

– Eric Betz, Brewer-Garrett, electrical engineering manager

“We appreciate the fast turnaround and positive purchase experience. Also, the Melink installers were courteous and knowledgeable. All Melink personnel were readily accessible and eager to help when called. As far as the system itself, it is well thought-out and high quality. The display is easy to read and use.  Also, I like the ability for Melink to remotely monitor and fine tune with their Remote Access service.”

– Jon Erdmann, Brewer-Garrett, senior project manager

 

COULD INTELLI-HOOD BE A FIT FOR MY PROJECT?

Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save within your commercial or industrial kitchens?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.

EMAIL THIS CASE STUDY OR SHARE IT TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA BY CLICKING THE ICONS BELOW.

Intelli-Hood Frankfurt Hotel Retrofit Case Study

Context

In October 2012 the Radison Blu Hotel in Frankfurt installed their first Melink Intelli-Hood system. Following the success of this project another 7 installations followed throughout Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Poland. Additional opportunities in the portfolio are being reviewed as a result of the energy savings being realized at the existing properties. There is an established and dedicated network throughout Europe to ensure project support from concept to completion for commercial kitchen operations.

Results

intellihood radison blu savings graphic

 

COULD INTELLI-HOOD BE A FIT FOR MY PROJECT?

Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save within your commercial or industrial kitchens?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.

EMAIL THIS CASE STUDY OR SHARE IT TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA BY CLICKING THE ICONS BELOW.

Intelli-Hood Barcelona Hotel Retrofit Case Study

CONTEXT

Intelli-Hood was installed in the NH Constanza by Savergy Solutions in Barcelona, Spain in December of 2015.

  • Total motor power: 3.75 HP
  • Daily operating hours: 12.5
  • Days per week: 7
  • Weeks per year: 52
  • Cost per kilowatt hour: 0.11 EURO

RESULTS

 

Energy savings graphic

Below is a sample graph of the varying exhaust fan speed for one day at the hotel:

Green graphic

And here are before (navy) and after (green) reduction results of kilowatt hours, heat load, and exhaust volume.

Bar graph

 

Could Intelli-Hood be a fit for my project?

Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save within your commercial or industrial kitchens?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.

 

Email this case study or share it to your social media by clicking the icons below.

Intelli-Hood University New Construction Case Study

CONTEXT

In an effort to reach Miami University’s goal of a 20 percent reduction in both energy and CO² emissions, the new Armstrong Student Center Construction Team was working hard to achieve a LEED Silver rating. With a target opening date of February 2014, technologies were sought to optimize energy usage for each of the five dining stations within the center. Intelli-Hood® was selected because of it’s savings projections and successful performance in other Miami University dining halls. Below is the compiled kitchen operation data across the five dining stations in which Intelli-Hood was installed:

  • Total motor power: 56.5 HP
  • Daily operating hours: 17
  • Days per week: 7
  • Weeks per year: 52
  • Cost per kilowatt hour: $0.05
  • Climate zone: 5

RESULTS

The Miami University Facilities team avoided using 254,794 kilowatts and spending $65 thousand dollars in utility costs as a result of installing Intelli-Hood. They also and reduced their carbon footprint by 341,424 pounds. After presenting a year’s worth of data for all building systems, the Armstrong Center was rated as LEED Silver by the United States Green Building Council in October 2016.

Below are two sample graphs of the varying exhaust fan speed for one day at two separate dining stations:

Intelli-hood graphic

Intelli-hood graphic v2

 

Here are a before (navy) and after (green) reductions in kilowatt hours, heat load and exhaust volume across all five dining stations:

Bar graph

 

The team at Miami University commented on their impression of Intelli-Hood and Melink:

“Working with Melink and their Intelli-Hood system has been nothing but
a good experience. They know what they are talking about and walked us
through the entire process.”

– Eric Yung, Miami University, Executive Chef

“We’re experiencing energy savings with no interruption to
kitchen operations. All our staff needs to do is turn on the
lights and occasionally clean.”

– John Pittman, Miami University, Food Service Operations

 

Could Intelli-Hood be a fit for my project?

Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save within your commercial or industrial kitchens?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.

 

Email this case study or share it to your social media by clicking the icons below.

Intelli-Hood Restaurant Retrofit Case Study

CONTEXT

A popular national restaurant chain, which also is a leader in sustainability, adopted Melink’s patented Intelli­-Hood® HVAC controls package as an energy conservation measure. The company’s goal was to achieve a 60 percent reduction in exhaust fan energy across its 80 properties. Following is an excerpt from its 2016 Corporate Sustainability Report:

“We tested an innovative demand ventilation system at our restaurant in Pleasanton, CA, which automatically adjusts the exhaust and make up air fan speed by measuring the temperature, steam and smoke in the hood. By having the fan speed ramp up or down as needed, the amount of energy used compared to standard fans is significantly reduced by as high as 60 percent. We are now in the process of rolling out the system to approximately 120 locations, potentially reducing our energy use by as much as 63,000 kWh’s per location.”

RESULTS

Savings across the restaurant company’s portfolio have been impressive and exceeded expectations. Not only has the company enjoyed increased operating profit as a result of the 65 percent reduction in energy usage, but its utility bill has dropped by $702,240 annually since 2015.

Energy savings graphic

 

Below is a sample graph of the varying exhaust fan speed for one day at one location:

demand controlled ventilation

Could Intelli-Hood be a fit for my project?

Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save within your commercial or industrial kitchens?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.

 

Email this case study or share it to your social media by clicking the icons below.