By Jason Gibson, Electrical Manager, Seahorse Electrical and Maintenance Services Ltd
The most common challenges when it comes to plant room design and the installation of equipment are size and location. We work with clients across a range of industries including medical facilities, financial institutions, event venues and datacentres to design and build plant rooms that protect the power to critical loads. Our services also include the supply and maintenance of mechanical and electrical equipment that makes up the plant room infrastructure.
All too often clients have limited space. Finding ourselves working in areas as small as 2mx2m is certainly not unusual! To compound the issue, often, all the equipment from switch gear to UPS, to batteries, cabling and generators, all need to be fitted into a small room, located in the deepest, darkest confines of a third basement level.
In these cases, access can also be a major issue. Sometimes this is due to the route to the plant room or the need to fit through small spaces in order to get there. Trying to squeeze a 900mmx800mm piece of equipment through a small hatch, while minimising disruption to the client at the same time, requires ingenuity and planning!
Comprehensive site surveys are key to solving such challenges. It may be that we find a better route around the building to deliver the equipment to its final location. This could involve delivering kit through a window rather than a door, or we may need to widen a doorway then return it to its original state. We also work with manufacturers where we know we can strip the kit down into smaller units and rebuild them once in situ. It’s about being flexible to the clients’ needs and being able to come up with workable solutions.
A further challenge is that clients’ requirements will frequently alter and become refined during the project. At the outset, it can be that they are not 100% sure about what they need, our role is to advise them about the best solutions available to protect the power to their building, given their particular circumstances.
We might suggest the installation of a further change over switch, so there is only one shut down rather than three when it comes to commissioning the system, which means less downtime for the client. Or, it may be that the generator simply won’t fit in the same space. If so, it could be located in an adjacent lobby or sometimes additional building work is required. Roof canopies are a good option here, and we can recommend and arrange for the install of a planned crane lift of a Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) building in these cases. We also manage any strengthening of floors where necessary.
The majority of our change overs (95%) are completed out of hours – at the weekends or overnight. Again, this is to minimise disruption. Being flexible and having the ability to supply the best option is part and parcel of what we do.
We’ve been working with CENTIEL for around three years, but I’ve worked with Louis McGarry, Sales and Marketing Director of CENTIEL for well over a decade. We supply CENTIEL’s leading modular UPS CumulusPower, known for its industry leading levels of availability (uptime) and flexible, scalable configuration. The modular UPS is a high-quality, robust system that is very compact, fitting into footprints where standalone systems simply cannot! The racks can house five small UPS modules or just two, with the option to add more modules at a later date providing a scalable solution as power protection requirements grow.
CENTIEL’s UPS also has a top or bottom cable entry option, which helps us come up with the most optimal cable routes to avoid clashes with any other services. The whole system fits with our need to be flexible and provide the highest levels of power protection for our clients, even when working in challenging environments.
The team at CENTIEL are also problem solvers. They are hands on, on-site and are always prepared to work hard to ensure the installation is completed with minimal disruption to the client. Their expertise and our excellent working relationship means, working together, we can always get the job done to a high standard.
Whatever the challenge, we believe there is always a workable solution. Partnering with leading manufacturers such as CENTIEL means we can ensure our clients’ critical power is protected and the project runs as smoothly as possible whatever the size of the plant room!
Originally featured in Electrical Contracting News July 2021.