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BMS drives efficiency at hospital

Norwich-based building controls specialist, ICS (Eastern) Ltd has installed a sophisticated Building Management System (BMS) for six operating theatres at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey.

Frimley Park was opened in 1974 and cares for around 400,000 patients in North East Hampshire, West Surrey and East Berkshire. The site also houses a fully integrated Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit with qualified military medics.

The hospital recently underwent a substantial, year-long upgrade, including new boilers and a heating system in the Nurse’s Quarters, modernisation of six operating theatres and a newly built specialist theatre for state-of-the-art image-guided procedures.

As part of the £10 million refurbishment project, ICS upgraded the control systems of six operating theatres to integrate with an existing Trend BMS. This was upgraded from an obsolete Trend 945 to a 964 head end.

In the sterile hospital environment, air is filtered to a high quality with clean air pumped into the theatres and any stale air removed to minimise the risk of infection. This means the air around the patients is changed 500 times every hour. The humidity is also controlled to prevent patient dehydration. To meet these vital requirements, ICS designed and installed a dynamic control system that facilitated the conditions to suit the client’s needs.

This included the automation of several of the theatres’ ‘air curtains’ around operating tables which are designed to help keep infection at bay. These are also connected to the system and can be easily accessed by the surgeon via a local control panel. The display screen allows the surgeon to view the temperature in the operating theatre and adjust accordingly to ensure a comfortable operating environment.

Before the original Air Handling Units (AHUs) could be upgraded, the old control panel had to be disconnected and replaced with the new panel. This meant that ICS had to manage the entire installation to ensure the critical deadlines were met. Whilst the theatres were being upgraded two at a time, a theatre in the hospital’s new ophthalmology unit was pressed into use for surgery.

“ICS installed a precise control system that delivers optimal operating conditions,” comments Colin Mapperley, General Manager of Facilities for Frimley Park Hospital. “The old control panel needed changing to the new panel before any further upgrade work could be carried out and ICS managed tight timescales to carry out the project sequentially for all the theatres overnight – causing minimum disruption to staff and patients.”

ICS has made the Local Area Network more resilient - which is vital for any hospital - and upgraded the LANs internetworking capacity. Benefits of this include multi-user access, increased productivity, easy maintenance, cost efficiency and better security.

All the controls have a single Trend front-end, which is located in the estates department’s office for use by the facilities team. The graphics based supervisor is housed on a single PC, however there are multiple login capabilities. Each user has their own password and access clearance level. There are four clearance levels in total and the activity of each operator is logged by the system. 

In addition to the front-end in the estates department, a second graphics PC is housed in the telephone exchange building. There are several critical alarms around the building all of which are linked to the telephone system. All critical alarms generated are copied to the second front-end as a back-up. Alarms include generator faults, blood bank alarms, mortuary fridge temperatures and chiller failures.

As well as centralised operator interfaces, the hospital requires a degree of local control to enable nurses, doctors and surgeons to adjust their environment within certain parameters. A range of interface panels with dials and switches allows staff in areas such as critical care and the operating theatres to change the environment according to requirements.

However, electronic user interface panels in operating theatres can bring their own challenges, when it comes to cleaning. ICS had to design an individual solution for Frimley Park, which ensured everything was fully waterproof in the sealed environment.

Drainage is always an issue in an area such as Norfolk, which is not known for its hilly terrain. The BMS at Frimley Park monitors float switches in some of the drainage access points. These sensors warn staff that effluent is not leaving the site quickly enough due to heavy usage, flooding or foreign objects being disposed of inappropriately.

Frimley Park has fully embraced energy efficiency and the benefits of its newly installed BMS and is currently training its estates department in energy saving techniques.

ICS has serviced and maintained Frimley Park Hospital for the last 10 years and was recently approved to continue this service for the next three years. With Frimley Park being such a large site, ICS work with the estates department to prioritise maintenance activities to ensure the service is operated cost-effectively.

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