Next-gen air-con tech can centrally control hundreds of indoor units in large buildings

14 March 2017
Large buildings can now be supplied with heating and cooling plants that occupy the minimum space, while offering the best possible efficiency, thanks to the latest Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology from Toshiba Air Conditioning of Japan.
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This next-generation air-conditioning technology has been introduced locally by AHI Carrier South Africa, the official distributor for Toshiba Air Conditioning of Japan in Southern Africa.

            Toshiba Brand Manager Philip Theunissen explains that the Toshiba SHRM_e (an acronym for Super Heat Recovery Multi, with the ‘e’ standing for ‘Evolution, Efficiency and Expansion’), represents the latest iteration of VRF technology.

It can feed multiple indoor units from modular outdoor units, situated usually on building roofs or in strategically-located plant rooms. Up to an astonishing 528 indoor units can be controlled centrally by building or facility managers, in conjunction with the relevant Building Management System (BMS).

The system uses Intelligent Flow Technology, based on independent Pulse Motor Valves (PMVs), to control the flow of refrigerant to each indoor unit. These deliver a carefully-calibrated refrigerant flow to each indoor unit to create, and then maintain, optimum comfort conditions, utilising three sensors per indoor unit.

This means that while a building’s air-conditioning system can comprise multiple units, in those instances of low demand, such as after hours or over a weekend, the Toshiba SHRM_e can achieve this without having to start up the entire plant, as is the case with conventional centralized plants.

Instead, building and facility managers and service technicians enjoy immediate and/or remote access to all system parameters, while end users benefit from a host of additional features and benefits associated usually with high-tier air-conditioning systems.

            Theunissen points out that Toshiba is a long-established leader in VRF technology. A multitude of Toshiba VRF systems are operating globally, including Europe, the Far East, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand.

The next-generation Toshiba SHRM_e technology sets a new benchmark in energy efficiency and performance, as all outdoor units exceed 7 ESEER (European Seasonally Adjusted Energy Efficiency Rating).

            “It is important to reiterate that Toshiba SHRM_e VRF systems require maintenance by experienced and qualified technicians. This can vary from simple filter washes to more technically-involved major services,” Theunissen adds.

Toshiba’s Wave Tool Technology (WTT) is a wireless commissioning and performance validation tool that enables engineers to read and write data to and from the condensing unit using a smartphone, without making physical contact. It enables testing and commissioning to be carried out without taking the covers off the unit, another industry first.

This uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to transmit data between the outdoor unit and the engineer’s smartphone. The tool allows service and commissioning engineers to instruct and obtain key system information simply by touching their smartphone onto the NFC tag on the outdoor unit.

The technology simplifies commissioning, as well as reducing the time spent on-site, giving the service engineer the ability to quickly and easily send key system data via e-mail back to the office for analysis.

Theunissen concludes: “We have strived to introduce the latest cutting-edge Japanese technology, offering the highest possible quality, efficiency, and reliability, in tandem with the benefits associated with luxury air-conditioning. Many applications in the South African air-conditioning industry will call for the Toshiba SHRM_e system.”