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In the new world of smart refrigeration, real-time diagnostics have become the norm, with sensors monitoring everything from temperature and humidity to power consumption.

Refrigeration system monitoring is like having a fridgie on site 24 hours a day seven days a week and the service is now available in Australia. The new company, Metis Monitoring, is currently being commercialised.

The company's managing director, Michael Bellstedt, said the service is the first of its kind in Australia and, possibly, the world.

He said any refrigeration system can be retrofitted for full monitoring which covers a number of vital indicators to suit each application.

This includes compressor, defrost heater and fan power, liquid pressure and temperature, ambient temperature and humidity, room temperature, as well as discharge and suction pressure and temperature to guard against a range of faults including flood-backs, refrigerant loss, fan failure or compressor malfunction.

A site survey is undertaken, sensors are installed and a monthly fee is paid per system.

“I searched the Chillventa event in October and couldn't find anything similar. Of course there are monitoring systems available but most are very capital expensive whereas this is more like a subscription service,” he said.

Bellstedt is well known to Australia's HVACR industry through his research work with Minus40. He said recent trials have removed the last of the glitches.

“We keep track of a range of vital indicators because having a sophisticated machine learning-based system that correlates trends on such a wide pool of data means we can identify problems early and get a jump on equipment breakdowns,” Bellstedt said.

“We can also provide remote diagnostics of the actual or historic refrigeration systems operating conditions, to assist site technicians, accelerate repair and minimise false diagnosis. A holistic view can immediately let you know where the refrigerant is saturated, subcooled or superheated and how this relates to the operation of compressors and fans; there is no waiting for the repairman to show up.

“Problems are identified long before they turn into expensive repairs, large refrigerant re-charge bills, breakdowns or spoilage. We recently did successful early diagnosis on systems installed in San Fransisco, long before the client was aware of the fault.”

Once the system is operational, customers can use a smartphone or laptop to receive alerts and examine real-time or historical data.

“It means knowing exactly what is going on with your freezers, refrigerators and walk-in coolers,” Bellstedt said.

There is a lot of interest in the new service from OEM suppliers and contractors  For suppliers, the service is ideal for warranty claims while it certainly simplifies life for a contractor who can now cost-effectively manage sites far from the workshop.

“It's a great way to keep service records and if a client changes contractors or there is a different technician on site all of the information is there to see,” he said.

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