Building Automation and Maintenance

maintenance, HVAC, building automation, new construction   August 16, 2010

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is building automation and maintenance.

When maintenance and engineering activities can remain out of sight and out of mind, that can be a good thing. Managers and technicians with the Gateway Medical Center in Clarksville, Tenn., are finding just how good that situation can be.

They've been able to keep a low profile since the opening of a new hospital in June 2008. The 490,000-square-foot, 270-bed hospital features reliable, energy-efficient equipment that allows maintenance and engineering staff to control the building more effectively and create a more comfortable indoor environment.

The hospital's maintenance, repair and operations activities have become so efficient, the CEO has said he did not realize the new facility even had a maintenance department. While the comment was facetious, it speaks to the job managers and staff have done in creating smooth operations out of the public eye.

The new hospital means modern, energy-saving technology for the department — a welcome sight for technicians who had been working with outdated, underperforming equipment in the old hospital. Instead of having to handle frequent emergency repair calls and make regular visits to operating suites and nursing stations, technicians now focus on fine-tuning HVAC equipment and performing the necessary preventive maintenance (PM).

"There's something new to learn every day here," says Jim Skeens, the medical center's plant operations manager. "We're still breaking in the building, but everyone has a sense of where everything is laid out and how it works. It seems to be less effort in (the technicians') daily routines. They can concentrate on PMs because they don't have as many daily calls."

The hospital's building-automation system (BAS) has played a key role in managing hot-cold calls more efficiently, analyzing energy performance, and monitoring the indoor air quality (IAQ) of different spaces within the hospital.

Says Mike Holzkamper, the hospital's director of facilities management, "We have less heat and air problems at this facility than we did at the old place. With the energy-management system we have, we can spend five minutes on the computer and come out knowing what it's going to take to fix something. It makes the end user much happier when they call us and get something fixed in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days."


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