Case Study

Medical research facility seeks huge cooling package for planned shutdown

In order to manage a project efficiently, it is important that even the most seemingly insignificant details are considered before a solution is tailored. The one-size-fits-all ideology may suffice on smaller assignments but on bigger contracts with countless variables at play, this approach will almost certainly lead to complications further down the line.

At Andrews Sykes, we savour opportunities to get involved with the more high-profile or logistically challenging jobs because they allow us to demonstrate our true capability. Everyday hires provide us with sustenance, but it is the way we handle largescale projects that really sets us apart.

The prearranged shutdown of a biomedical research institution in London was certainly a proposal that warranted a great deal of preparation, with the customer outlining various stipulations long before we began devising a suitable course of action.

A fault had been identified in the building’s cooling system, requiring the immediate replacement of a number of pump seals and valves. With freezer farms, UPS rooms and data centres all constantly reliant upon a source of air conditioning, there was simply no scope for decommissioning their chillers unless the same cooling duties could be temporarily delivered by substitute units.

There were four chillers on site, delivering a combined cooling duty of approximately two megawatts. Initially, our customer was under the impression that a like-for-like chiller replacement would be the best way forward.

However, reservations regarding their ability to accommodate a large temporary chiller, and the high costs associated with this, prompted our engineer to explain that there was a much more economical alternative available.

The need for a change of tack was reinforced by the fact that it was not possible to facilitate a localised isolation of the chiller system due to an absence of separation valves, making the original plan unworkable.

These factors, combined with a decision to provide cooling only to areas where it was essential, meant that our solution would not require the entire cooling duty to be superseded.

At this stage, it was agreed that deploying multiple split type air conditioners around the most temperature-sensitive areas would be the most practical option. We estimated that more than 50 of our PAC 22 units would be needed across the application, which required us to make a number of adjustments to guarantee there was enough power to accommodate such a large amount of kit.

The client provided us with a 3-phase 63A supply, but this would only have allowed us to run a fraction of the units at any one time. With revisions badly needed and the time of the shutdown now fast approaching, we delivered distribution boards and cabling to help convert the power to a 13A single phase supply.

Incredibly, this whole changeover took less than three hours – removing the project’s final stumbling block and paving the way for our units to be installed in the identified hot spots.

At the customer’s request, an engineer was stationed at the facility during the out-of-hours shutdown so that any issues that might have arisen could be quickly rectified. Naturally, we’re very pleased to report that nothing unexpected occurred, with their whole process completed in less than four hours.

This project perfectly encapsulates all components of our renowned service being showcased on a single job, including a willingness to go the extra mile whenever a situation requires it. And it’s fair to say this viewpoint was mirrored by the lead contractor, who thanked us and singled out our three engineers for particular praise.

Given the nature of the work being conducted at the research facility – which is predominantly focused on COVID recovery at present – it would be impossible to overstate the importance of preventing any halt in their assessment programmes. This meant keeping hundreds of dedicated freezers operational and critical servers online, which we achieved without exception.

Despite the client being braced for the eventual solution to cost in excess of six figures, we were able to exceed their expectations on every front and implement a comprehensive turnkey package for less than a fifth of the sum originally mooted.

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