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Why have human intervention?

David Musto’s presentation at the IDEA conference highlights need for a better district cooling billing system

| | Jan 25, 2011 | 2:51 pm
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David Musto’s presentation at the IDEA conference highlights need for a better district cooling billing system

David Musto

David Musto

David Musto, Principal, Thermo Systems, made a presentation on ‘Integrating billing data for DC networks’ at the 5th International District Cooling Conference and Trade Show, in Doha, Qatar, on November 9.

Responding to an earlier talk, Musto began his presentation with a preamble: “Juan Ontiveros of University of Texas, Austin, talked a lot about delivering chilled water; I’m going to talk about how we are going to get paid for that.”

Taking the audience through the process of information exchange – moving from plant operator to plant manager to regional operations to corporate management – Musto questioned the efficiency of such a data flow system. He endeavoured to drive home his point by showing how a conventional system works:

  1. Revenue-grade energy meters collect consumption data
  2. Fibre optic networks connect energy meters and PLCs to plant SCADA systems
  3. A human being collects the data and e-mails it.
  4. Another human being keys the data into another system – we have human intervention, which can lead to error and efficiency

Wondering aloud if the process was a waste of resources, Musto urged his listeners to think about the human efficiency in our operations.

He then emphasised the need for integration of goals for increased efficiency:

  • Connect plant SCADA to accounting system
  • Use human interaction for reconciliation, not data entry


  • DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange)
  • OPC (Ole for Process Control)

Musto thought that automation capital investments are underutilised, and made a plea for the convergence of corporate IT and plant automation.

He concluded his presentation by saying that there was no magic wand to overcome the DC billing problem. “It takes good systems integration engineering to achieve success,” he said. “Enhanced collection, storage, distribution, and analysis of information will increase automation ROI.”

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