CES have proudly been carrying out the electrical installation for Xchanger systems in Dairy’s across the UK since early 2018. From Pembrokeshire to Edinburgh farmers have been opting for a greener, smarter solution to their parlour cooling systems consisting of a Heat Pump essentially operating in reverse.
The basic principle of the Xchanger system is to cool the herds milk by removing the heat and dumping it into buffer storage tanks (large cylinders of water). The heat is then transferred into the parlours in the form of Blow Airs (essentially a heating fan) or sent to local domestic dwellings to supply underfloor heating and central heating systems. Farmers are currently incentivised to install the technology by claiming on renewable energy tariffs such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
As engineers we’re always interested in breaking down the systems we install and developing methods to further improve the installations for the end user – after installing just a small number of the Xchanger units it became evident that as brilliant as the technology was it was clearly lacking in functionality such as remote access and heating control of the external heating equipment – and so as we often do here at CES we turned to Loxone for the ‘smarter’ solution.
Firstly our friends at Xchanger were complaining of the lack of remote maintenance available to them – being based in Shropshire but with contracts up to 300 miles away it was important any faults or errors the Xchanger would come across could be immediately diagnosed and resolved, where possible remotely. This one to us was a simple fix – each Heat Pump contains an alarm call which we were already using for a local beacon which alerted the farm manager of alarms, leaving the beacon in place we utilised the same signal to send both a push notification (to use in the Loxone app) and an e-mail to the Xchanger head office. The Xchanger alarms consist of soft and hard alarms with soft resetting themselves and hard needing a manual reset – by adding some simple logic we were able to setup an additional e-mail notification to alert when the alarm was reset allowing the engineers to determine how serious the actual fault in question is.
Secondly, arguably some of the most important figures for the Xchanger management team to keep an eye on is the electrical consumption and the total heat energy produced, both these figures are tallied up using approved consumption meters. By supplying comms ready consumption meters we are able to take a pulsed output and use the Loxone software to make it’s own consumption calculation – each pulse equates to ‘X’ amount of units of energy which is set dependant on the meter used. By adding this logic to the Loxone app the Xchanger team can now instantly see the power used in real-time at any site anywhere in the world along with the all important total heat produced which is the figure used when claiming against the RHI.
Finally heating and cooling circuits are now managed by our powerful Loxone software with thousands of setups and opportunities available to the Xchanger team ranging from simple calls to bring a cooling pump on when the milk parlour requires to automated heat dumping which switches certain heating circuits on to dump heat dependant on the temperature of the buffer storage cylinders. These setups are very much site dependant but with the vast range of relays and inputs available on the Loxone miniserver most needs are met and when more diverse systems are required Loxone’s plug and play extensions sit nicely inside our existing enclosures. Where required the farm owners are also given user specific applications to enable them to remotely manage their heating circuits – this allows them to heat the parlour before milking on a frosty morning or boost the underfloor heating for an extra hour all from their smart phones.
Looking to the future of the Xchanger-Loxone smart system the team at CES are already working on integrating the Xchanger ModBus communication system which will enable the team direct access to the Heat Pumps with the ability to read specific alarms, monitor flow and return temperatures, read system logs along with a host of other benefits. In addition to this we’ll also be utilising the same ModBus communication language but linked to the consumption meters – this will reduce any inaccuracies and duplicate the exact figures as on the front screen of each consumption meter.
If your looking into similar project or perhaps your after a solution to a problem why not give us a call today and see how we may be able to help using automated technology such as Loxone.
To find out more about the Xchanger cooling system visit – www.xchanger.co.uk today.