Interoperability is No Gamble for Harrah’s

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff January 12, 2005

Harrah’s Hotel and Casino has long been known as a leader in the hospitality industry. Built in 1988 with 468 rooms, Harrah’s Laughlin has tripled in size to approximately 1580 rooms, 47,000 square feet of casino space, 8 food outlets, 4 banquet rooms as well as the largest arcade in Laughlin, Nevada.

The Challenge
Harrah’s original Building Automation System was outdated and required constant maintenance. After careful consideration, the Engineering Manager decided to integrate the existing automation system with a more user friendly and non-proprietary solution. Curtis Heath, Harrah’s Laughlin Chief Engineer examined various open systems alternatives to find one with the required characteristics that was both future-proof and easily integrated into existing equipment.

The Solution
After an extensive study, the Chief Engineer determined that a LONMARK Open System provided the perfect solution. Harrah’s decided to run a high speed Ethernet fiber optic backbone in strategic locations throughout the building. They installed five Echelon i.Lon Internet Servers to connect the backbone to the control network and then integrated their central plant, consisting of three Trane Chillers, three Marley Cooling Towers, six Paco Pumps, and two McQuay Air Handler Units. Curtis next coordinated all 31 Air Handler Units (AHUs) throughout the property. During this process they decided to upgrade the equipment in the central plant to include two new LONMARK certified Trane CVNF485 Chillers and two LONMARK certified Yaskawa GPD 506/P5 VFD’s to control two new Marley NC8306J cooling towers. Although minimal wiring was required, it is now possible to talk directly with the new equipment and receive data.

With the upgrade of the plant completed, Curtis finished the AHUs and went to work on the 200 plus Fan Coil Units and the 250 plus VAV Boxes, located throughout the buildings. In order to improve comfort and user friendliness of the system, Harrah’s decided to give Directors the ability to adjust the temperature in their own offices by installing smart thermostats. Not only would each Director have control over their office temperatures, Harrah’s could set parameters for energy management and monitor each office from the front end. Finally, sensors were installed and linked to the control network to maximize energy efficiency and comfort in the Casino areas.

As with any large successful installation, the project continues to expand. The latest installation has involved replacing the remaining Central Plant equipment with comparable products utilizing LonWorks device networking technology, including a Yaskawa VFD to control another Marley cooling tower, and installation of 6 Omron E7 VFD’s controlling 6 Armstrong pumps. In order to enhance energy management, Harrah’s installed Smart CT’s from Veris to monitor the energy usage of the Central Plant. Next on the horizon, Harrah’s will integrate the North Plant with products utilizing LONWORKS device network technology, continuing the develop strategies that will encourage even more energy control and cost savings.

Focusing on the ease of installation, the Harrah’s project has been a huge success. According to Heath, the organization has saved over $150,000 by keeping the installation of the system in-house, and has also measured a monthly savings of over $40,000 during the peak summer season.

The Benefits
• Vendor independence
• Lower installation costs
• User friendly interface
• Future proof expansion
• Improved comfort and control

Products used in this project
• Chillers -Trane (LONMARK certified)
• VFDs -Yasakawa (LONMARK certified)
• i.Lon Internet Servers – Echelon