Compass Software Technology - Newsletter 05 - October 2012

Hi All,
welcome to the latest Compass Software newsletter. A change of thought in this newsletter, rather than talking about specific plant, we will discuss where plant is located from the design stage to existing installations. Poor planning at the design stage can have big cost implications after the handover, if any mistakes have not been discovered. Likewise changes made to access or additional building works (maybe many years after installation), must be carefully thought out to avoid risk or hazards to both staff and personnel. I am going to use examples from what I have seen over the years to hopefully better illustrate this newsletter.

Our Regional Pro2 EAM software package is just part of a total solution we offer to give you complete control over all your plant and equipment assets. Interested? We would love to talk with you.

Dominic Murnane

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Location, Location, Location - It's Good to Talk! (Design Stage)

It would be great if all plant installations were similar to the one in the picture on the left, (flat roof, raised walkways, safety tethers, plenty of space to work...). However for many reasons, this is not always possible. At the design stage of a new building, there are many different people involved from architects, the client, project managers, builders, civil, mechanical, electrical and other engineers etc. Strangely, it is rare for HVAC contractors to be involved, considering it is they who will be responsible for keeping the plant running for many years / decades into the future. Their opinions could be very valid at this point.

Here are two examples, where it would have been good for better communication between all involved:

Example 1:
A new multi-story retail unit, where the issue of drawings, revisions and specifications was not controlled or discussed between the various parties. The information for plant installation (ducted air-conditioning), floor & ceiling joists, suspended ceiling and access hatches all came from un-related drawings as a result less than 5% of the air-con plant was accessible. Hatches (600mm sq) were too small and were up to 4 meters away from plant or blocked from opening by joists. Some plant was jammed up against joists, lift shafts or other areas that would make access very difficult.
The end result was that if a plant item needed repair, a large area of the store would need to be cleared (dust & debris) while a new access point was made and either the plant or ceiling joists repositioned. A simple job that would take a couple of hours could take a couple of days and have to done at night (very costly). It was estimated €250,000 would be required to completely rectify the work. The contractor on their initial walk about spotted the problem within an hour, they were never consulted at any time during the build.

Example 2:
This time a rooftop plant installation. 8 AHU's and associated plant was to be installed in concrete box shaped "gully" with 2.5M side walls. The installer started at the far end and just packed them in one after the other. As a result just over half of the available length was used. It took an engineer. over 20 minutes to traverse the gully (a distance of 30M) from end to end, which involved climbing, crawling and balancing acts. Just imagine carrying boxes of filters at the same time. The only other access was to walk along a parapet with no safety tethers. ( Too high a risk). This problem could not be rectified and maintenance costs were 300% above normal.

Location, Location, Location - It's Good to Talk! (All about Access)

Many times, I have seen almost crazy situations when contractors have to access the plant they need to maintain. Sometimes I think architects and installers think contractors are a combination of athlete, contortionist and magicians. If remedies can be put in place, it is much more beneficial for the contractor to spend maximum time working on plant than other unneeded tasks. Here are a few examples:

1. Having to clear a path to get at the equipment (stock, wheelie bins, vehicles etc.)
2. Who can find the plant room and roof access door keys?
3. Having to carry a large quantity of spares (i.e. filters) over a considerable distance or up many flights of stairs on the day of service.

And now some of the crazy ones I've seen!
1. Access door to roof 1000mm x 600mm - There were 12 big AHU's on the roof.
2. Access to plant room up 4M enclosed steel wall mounted ladder
3. Access to plant room through attic, could only be traversed on hands and knees due to cross beams.
4. No parking for vans on site - security reasons, (nearest parking 500M away). Off loading and loading was accomplished by constantly driving Transit van around city block and two guys moving spares & tools each time it stopped at the traffic lights. (This took 4 hours for a major service!!).
5. Not allowed to keep spares on site. Plant room was up 16 flights of stairs. 20 boxes of filters required - phew!!
6. Pen for guard dogs at base of wall where 6 AC condensor units were mounted (and they were cross!!). 7. Access to roof was through a sky light that was located 4M over a stairwell. (1 full day to errect scaffolding).

Location, Location, Location - It's Good to Talk! (Risk Assessment)

At the end of the day, most contractors just want to do their job and move on to the next. But sometimes the access to the plant just makes this too dangerous. Your company is responsible for the health and safety on contractors when on site and likewise contractors should not put themselves or the company at risk by performing jobs that are either dangerour or they do not have the skillset or qualifications to perform.
One thing I hate to see is a plant room used as a stores. On one occasion I saw a boiler house stacked to the roof with 1,000's of aerosol cans. There easily could have been an explosion.

The following are common risks that are associated with access to plant, it's good to talk about these with your contractors.

1. Poor Lighting
2. Slippery surfaces (especially roofs)
3. Hard v soft surfaces on roofs and floors (can damage be caused by ladders etc.)
4. Size of access doors
5. Low ceilings and exposed beams (impact injury risk)
6. Where plant is mounted on framework above ground level, is there a work platform for contractors?
7. Cable trays and pipework, is there sufficent step-overs?
8. Wall mounted ladders, is there a safety cage and are the rungs clean?
9. Wind, when working in exposed areas, what is the impact?
10. Are all required safety equipment and precautions in place?

You want to change how you operate your Plant & Facilities Maintenance.
We want to help you do it.

Compass Software Technology Ltd.

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