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Instead of commercial end-users and contractors checking on their installed plumbing products, how about letting those products check in with them?
That’s one benefit Zurn Industries LLC, is touting after recently expanding its line of connected products. This past May, the company launched its Zurn Connected Flush Valves and Zurn Connected Faucets.
“One of the main causes of problems our customers have comes down to maintenance,” says Tony Wilcox, the company’s vice president, engineering and product design. “The connected devices allow for easy monitoring of usage, and can provide information on predictive maintenance reminders based on that actual data.”
Wilcox used the effective analogy of how most cars currently remind drivers when to change the oil. Gone are the days when car owners headed to Jiffy Lube every 3,000 miles. No, these days the car tells drivers how much life is left in the crankcase depending on patterns of actual driving. As a result, that next oil change might be more often for stop-and-go city driving and significantly less for country drivers who don’t see a stop light for miles.
“It’s always better maintenance when it’s predictive maintenance,” Wilcox adds “Users can get data from the device level; the room level; the building level and at the campus level. This takes the guesswork out of maintenance.”
The flush valves and faucets are the latest additions to the company’s connected products portfolio. Last year, the company entered the Internet of Things space with its Zurn Wilkens Connected Backflow Preventer. Like the flush valves and faucets, the connected backflow preventer includes a wireless monitor that senses for a relief valve discharge when a backflow condition exists.
As with flush valves and faucets, business owners and contractors can set parameters and notifications around their backflow preventer’s operation. They can receive alerts in real time via email or text message in the event of relief valve water discharge so that they can respond faster.
Along with the introduction of the flush valves and faucets, Zurn also made some enhancements to the backflow preventer with a product line extension called the Zurn Wilkins Connected Flood Control System. The system’s reduced pressure principle assembly with automatic ACV shutoff provides high hazard protection for potable applications. The FCIS continuously transmits real-time relief water discharge and system pressure data via plumbSMART, Zurn’s secure web portal, which underlines its suite of connected products.
Behind the scenes
While the products are front and center, what’s behind the scenes with the plumbSMART system is the key.
“The information is really the product,” Wilcox adds. “And we’ve made the information very accessible so that everyone who needs to know about the connected products can easily access performance data and trends though a secure web-based portal from any location on any device, desktop or mobile around the clock everyday of the year. The data allows the user to determine patterns and get a better sense of their products.”
In addition to product innovations, the company has made several enhancements to the functionality of its connected web and mobile tools and now features a dashboard-style product trends and live alerts, neatly organized to match a facility’s footprint.
Zurn’s connected products strategy is designed to connect all critical water applications its products touch to deliver a higher level of water management and maintenance savings — ultimately lowering the building operating costs, while enhancing the user experience.
Generally speaking, Wilcox gave three reasons users will find the new platform for plumbSMART informative:
“It might be the case that we’ve texted you and there’s a problem,” Wilcox explains. “Now, it could be an issue that needs to be quickly addressed. That might require a shutdown. Or, in the case of a backflow device, maybe the drain can handle it. But either way you will still want to check it. Second, it’s a great way to understand the usage of the products and a property’s overall water consumption. Finally, the data will help with general planning and maintenance issues.”