What’s your
problem?

Your problems are ours and our response is based on thorough knowledge and understanding of your situation. We are an insight based business, starting every project by understanding the problems you face now with an eye on the challenges and influences that may lie ahead. Tell us more about your industry and challenges.

  • Industry

  • Challenge

HVAC

Comfort Complaints

Temperature, Humidity, Draughts, Lighting, Odours

  • Complaints of too hot & too cold often relate to seasonal changes but can also occur daily as the sun travels around the building.
  • Low (rather than high) humidity is a common phenomenon from air conditioned buildings and presents first in people who wear contact lenses or have sensitive respiratory systems.
  • A lack of outside air can result in the build-up of odours and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) released from paints, carpets and furnishings.
  • The most common complaints received from air conditioned buildings relate to drafts from supply air diffusers.

These issues are best addressed by good initial design but can be solved retrospectively (or at least improved) by altering controls settings or relatively simple system adjustments with the right knowledge and experience.

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Electrical, HVAC, Hydraulics

Early Plant Failure

  • When an expensive plant fails earlier than anticipated, there is a reason behind the failure.
  • Poor system design, lack of initial commissioning and inappropriate control can all lead to a plant failing earlier than expected.
  • Unexpected failures can be very disruptive to tenants or interrupt industrial processes without warning.
  • Costs for remedial work are typically very costly to building owners or plant managers, especially when undertaken in a panic. They can also undermine tenant / landlord relationships or damage customer relationships where product delivery expectations cannot be met.

Almost all early plant failures are preventable, and we have extensive experience gained from root cause analysis and diagnostics of early plant failure. Early intervention is the key to extending plant life, while identifying and addressing underlying causes is essential before putting a replacement plant into service, to prevent repeat failures.

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Electrical, HVAC, Hydraulics

Excessive Energy Consumption

  • Higher than expected energy consumption is a common problem and a sure sign that a system is not optimised.
  • Issues can emerge from many directions including poor design, poor initial commissioning, inappropriate controls settings, inadequate maintenance or plant simply running unnecessarily.
  • On average commercial office buildings consume around 40% more energy than they need to, so savings of 20-30% are readily achievable with proper attention to plant set-up and control.

A process of ‘Continuous Commissioning’ is a proven methodology to achieve these savings over time and can be demonstrated by lower energy costs and improved GreenStar or NABERSNZ building ratings.

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Electrical, HVAC, Hydraulics

End of Life Plant Upgrades

  • Plant does not last forever.
  • We talk in terms of ‘Economic life expectancy’ for specific items of plant, meaning the average expected life of an item before the cost to maintain it escalates to unsustainable levels, or the plant simply fails.
  • Armed with this knowledge, plant assets can be proactively managed on a life-cycle basis with planning and budgets established well before the plant reaches its use-by date.

Given the plant to be replaced was probably designed some 20 years ago, the opportunity to reassess requirements should be taken. Is the design or plant capacity appropriate for the next 20 years, what technology improvements are available, can we design a new energy reduction plant or strategies. This is the time to think before committing to the next 20 year life-cycle for your plant.

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Electrical, HVAC

Controls and Commissioning Issues

  • Optimising the performance of an accumulation of equipment into a coherent system remains one of the most elusive targets of modern buildings – especially as systems become increasingly complex with new technologies.
  • Our experience in building performance diagnostics shows that poorly set-up complex systems designed to achieve significant energy savings will actually perform worse than simple systems, if not set-up correctly.
  • Poorly set-up air conditioning and control systems will invariably result in more complaints, use more energy and shorten the life of expensive capital plant & equipment.
  • Initial system commissioning is essential and takes time. Maintenance and system adjustments all too often reduce efficiencies over time, requiring major recommissioning exercises when complaints reach unacceptable levels.

Talk to us about Continuous Commissioning to keep your plant tuned and controls optimised to meet tenant expectations, reduce energy consumption and maximise plant life.

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HVAC

Health, Indoor Air Quality, Odours, Stuffiness, Infection Control

  • A key function of air conditioning systems is to create a healthy indoor air environment. This has never been more important than it is now in a post-Covid world, with building health now getting the attention it deserves, alongside energy and sustainability targets.
  • How do filtration levels, outside air qualities versus recirculation of conditioned air and internal airflow patterns play out in the real world to ensure a safe environment for all?
  • How do we know our indoor air quality is to an acceptable level?
  • What controls and checks are in place to provide reassurance to facility occupants that they are in a safe environment?

For answers to these questions and more, talk to our team who have the required expertise to help.

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Electrical, HVAC

Layout Changes, Challenges, Change of Use

With one of the only constants in business being change, office fit-outs and alterations are a common occurrence, and this will continue to be the case as we adapt to new ways of working in a post-Covid world.

All too often services such as air conditioning and lighting are not altered appropriately (or not altered at all) to reflect new layouts, people densities or a change of activity within a space.

Checks are required to confirm the basics such as:

  • The provision of adequate heating and cooling to each space or ‘zone’
  • Providing adequate outside air to meet code and occupant respiratory & health requirements
  • Provision of adequate lighting to each space or zone served
  • Alterations to system layouts to cater for separate temperature control zones (perimeter areas verses centre-zone spaces)
  • Control system changes to affect good temperature and airflow control as appropriate.

These changes are usually readily achievable when undertaken during the fit-out works but allow sufficient time for up-front design and commissioning at the end of the works.

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HVAC

Plant Capacity Issues

  • It is usually the job of the design engineer to ensure plant and systems are equipped with sufficient capacity for the task at hand. Ensuring a full knowledge of the building and intended operations within the building is essential information to be considered as a basis for plant sizing and selection.
  • Under-sizing of plants will usually not cause damage to specific plant items – but the obvious result being that desired conditions such as temperature, humidity or indoor air quality cannot be achieved.
  • Over-sizing of plant can be worse. Apart from spending more on capital outlay than required, an oversized plant is harder to control, operates less efficiently and can fail prematurely due to short cycling with frequent start/stop operation.
  • Where a plant operates over a wide range of loads – think air conditioning cooling load which varies from very little in mid-winter to very high loads in mid-summer, systems need to be designed to cater for all operating conditions. This may mean installing multiple plant items to allow staging on-off equipment as loads vary or installing buffering vessels to smooth out staging as loads vary.

Remedial work to correct plant capacity issues is possible but invariably expensive. Avoiding rule-of-thumb designs & doing the homework up-front is by far the cheapest solution. Now is the time to think.

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Electrical, HVAC, Hydraulics

Poor Initial Design Issues

  • Issues stemming from poor initial design are unfortunately all too common.
  • Determining plant capacity is an obvious first step to get right, however selecting the most appropriate system type for the application is just as important.
  • Making sure systems are designed to cater for the full range of operating conditions is also crucial towards achieving stable operation as well as achieving internal design conditions.
  • Buildability and considering access for maintenance are also key design considerations which often do not receive adequate attention during the design process – often being pushed onto the installation contractor to address.
  • Early plant failures often stem from poorly designed systems rather than inadequacies in the failed equipment.

Having designs peer reviewed is cheap insurance against the costs and inconvenience which invariably follow on from a poorly designed system.

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HVAC

Noise Issues

  • Noise emanating from the mechanical plant is no surprise and can be assessed with a view towards mitigation during the early stages of a system design.
  • Initial plant selections can influence the basic noise levels, but from there some form of attenuation or containment measures will be necessary.
  • Acceptable resultant sound levels within occupied spaces are well established and normally feature within design briefs, with external sound levels typically set and managed by City Council legislation.
  • Interestingly, complaints will often arise from intermittent noises such as fans and compressors cycling on and off rather than a continuous noise – especially during night-time operation of plant in residential or apartment settings.

Addressing noise issues once a plant has been built is typically quite difficult and can be very costly and once complaints start, it can be difficult to placate aggrieved parties even when compliance levels are achieved. Best get this one right at the outset!

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HVAC, Hydraulics

Legal Issues Resulting from Other Underlying Issues

  • We spend some of our time operating as expert witnesses for building services systems where expectations have not been met and mutual agreement cannot be achieved between aggrieved parties.
  • This is a situation best avoided where possible and invariably highlights upstream issues such as poor design or equipment selection, installation and/or maintenance issues.
  • Resolution is rarely swift and usually involves considerable costs – both in legal fees and remedial actions for at least one of the parties.

We offer practical, independent and fair advice to assist in resolving such issues and assistance throughout any remedial work process to achieve an agreed outcome.

Please contact us should you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.

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Electrical, HVAC, Hydraulics

Compliance Issues

  • Similar to legal issues, compliance issues usually result from an upstream failure at some point during the design and installation of a system.
  • By nature, compliance issues are relatively easy to identify, as an item of equipment or a system has failed to meet one or more rules defined by a local authority or government mandate.
  • Remedial work therefore has a clear objective to meet the breached rule(s), with a requirement to determine who is responsible for meeting the associated costs.

Urgency can depend on the level of failure; any life safety concerns or the ability to occupy or use a facility as intended as a result of the breach.

If you find yourself in this situation, please contact us for assistance.

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HVAC

Fit for Purpose Issues

  • Not all systems are equal.
  • The basic requirements of a system must be understood before an appropriate system can be selected and designed.
  • Consider an office building where the primary objectives are to create a safe, comfortable, quiet and healthy indoor environment for building occupants to go about their work without disruption or distraction from the air conditioning and ventilation systems. Referred to as ‘quiet enjoyment’ in terms of a lease for the premises.
  • By contrast, an industrial food manufacturing site requires the facility to be held under positive pressure to achieve mandated hygiene standards and a high rate of ventilation to remove moisture to eliminate the chances of condensation.
  • Temperature control and sound levels are secondary objectives with far wider tolerances than those acceptable within an office environment.

It is essential that systems are designed to meet a known end use and a defined set of agreed parameters.

We have experience across a very broad spectrum of industries so if you are unsure of exactly what would work best for you, please contact us for some advice.

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Electrical, HVAC, Hydraulics

Cost Issues (Capital / Opex, Budgeting, Long term Maintenance Planning)

  • Cost is understandably a high priority for most customers.
  • Building Services systems are unique in that they not only pose substantial capital cost considerations, but they also set the overall running cost, energy consumption and carbon footprint for a facility. For this reason, whole of life or life-cycle costs should be considered when choosing and designing a system.
  • If a typical plant economic lifespan is 20 years, then a life-cycle assessment over 30-50 years should be considered, factoring in the significant disruption to a building’s intended use when plant upgrade is undertaken.
  • The primary aims of minimising upfront capital costs, reducing energy consumption, minimising ongoing maintenance costs, minimising the carbon footprint and maximising plant life are in many ways opposing forces.

Finding the optimal solution for a particular facility depends on the client’s horizon for the building and requires careful analysis.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss this subject further.

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Electrical, HVAC, Hydraulics

Timelines and Programming Issues

  • Whether you are looking at a green-field site, a planned building refurbishment, upgrade of end-of-life plant or simply addressing a maintenance issue, there is never enough time.
  • Unfortunately building services plants, equipment and systems are expensive, require considerable space, make noise and use a lot of energy.
  • Early engagement to understand costs, spatial requirements, energy supplies, design, documentation and procurement timelines are essential before site works can commence.

Thinking time spent up front is invariably time well spent and can avoid significant unplanned or unnecessary costs and delays.

We relish the opportunity to provide timely advice to our clients to help them plan for a smooth project or to anticipate plant end-of-life upgrade work ahead of time.

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Electrical, HVAC, Hydraulics

Decarbonisation and Climate Change

The carbon discussion is now eclipsing the more established focus on energy consumption, incorporating sustainability as a primary consideration when designing new systems or indeed upgrading existing systems. We applaud the move towards creating a better planet for our children to inherit.

The use of fossil fuels is finally under the spotlight with a corresponding rise in innovation towards natural ventilation systems that work with nature instead of despite it.

Good design practices should now all be striving to achieve the desired result with the lowest overall impact on the planet – for the life of the facility. Our often used line of “Now’s the time to think” has never been more relevant as achieving low carbon solutions are challenging and require more time for innovative thinking than the construction industry is attuned to.

We welcome any opportunity to work with our clients on practical low carbon systems for their facilities. Call us for a chat anytime.

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Electrical, HVAC, Hydraulics

Requirement for Independent Advice or Expert Witness

In an industry which is becoming increasingly complex and embracing new technologies such as new refrigerants, advanced control systems making use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things), a lot of valuable knowledge is held by equipment suppliers.

With all due respect, it is increasingly difficult to obtain an unbiased view on the best solution for your particular project when most businesses are attached to particular products or systems or have built up close relationships with particular suppliers.

Jacksons Engineering is a fiercely independent business, priding itself on our industry knowledge, depth of experience and building on our significant base of real world diagnostics as the industry’s problem solvers.

It is our ability to advise our clients on what we believe is the best solution for their particular site or need that adds value to our service offering.

Our level of experience, an ability to talk to our clients in plain English and our independence are key ingredients for providing expert witness support to technically challenging cases.

We are always happy to talk to you about your particular need or problem.

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