New UPS increases operational reliability

The Sint-Andries Hospital in Tielt is blowing out 100 candles this year. And they might as well pull out all the (electrical) stops to celebrate that birthday. Thanks to the united works of ATS and subsidiary SDM-Projects, the entire power distribution has been thoroughly renewed since March. The replacement of the existing UPS was the signal to create a reliable, future-proof overall concept for the critical power supply.

The current buildings of St. Andrew's Hospital, which can accommodate 323 beds, date back to the 1980s. "In 2007, the electricity had already been overhauled," recalls Laurens Aernout. It was the year he officially started working there, having previously done vacation jobs there. "But the technical installation never quite grew with the evolution the hospital was undergoing. We started hitting our limits more often," Aernout points out. The UPS system in particular required more and more maintenance and repairs. "To ensure the operational security of the network, a replacement was therefore imminent."

Redundancy at every level
Together with Jan Vos of study bureau MEIVO, specifications were prepared. "In a particularly thorough way," Colin Debruyne, BU manager of ATS Power Quality, relates. "But with an openness that allowed us to offer a concept with added value." The common thread therein? SDM-Projects, a subsidiary of ATS specializes in critical power supply. Moreover, SDM-Projects is a market leader in energy-critical installations in hospitals. Together, then, the perfect tandem for St. Andrew's Hospital.

"Ensuring that the customer can sleep on both ears at any time. That redundancy is built in at every level and the systems do what they need to do when needed. Even if the UPS were to fail, additional provisions are in place so that there is operational security."

Bavo De Man, SDM Projects

Better TCO with battery-based UPS
From St. Andrew's Hospital, they wanted to switch from a UPS based on flywheel technology to a battery-based system. "For a better TCO (turnkey Cost of Ownership; the sum of direct and indirect costs). A move that a lot of healthcare institutions are now making," De Man notes. Mainly due to limited capacity and challenges with maintenance and repairs with flywheel technology. "By choosing batteries, the emergency systems here now get five minutes to start up instead of a few dozen seconds. That means they can make two to three attempts to become operational. More than enough, since the bulk of grid outages are micro-outages. Interruptions of more than five minutes are a rarity," Debruyne adds. ATS took a close look at the entire power distribution in order to get a good view of the existing situation and propose the best possible solution. "For the new UPS, we chose four 250 kVa units from Legrand, connected in parallel. So always redundancy."

Highest degree of operational reliability
ATS assembled the new UPS in a prefabricated container. But the replacement consisted of more than simply removing the cable from the old UPS and plugging it into the new one. Much more. "That's why we chose ATS," says Aernout. "They have the technicality and the manpower to bring everything together." The starting point was to guarantee the highest degree of operational reliability for St. Andrew's Hospital from the outset. Everything before and after from signs and cabling to even the medium-voltage cabin was therefore also included in a fully automated concept, which communicates seamlessly with Schneider Electric's building management system. De Man: "In case of incidents, the employees can make their own decisions, but everything is switched in such a way that the control system does continue to perform all the functions and safeguards that are needed. So if blind panic were to occur, the correct electrical interlocks are always assured. It's those details that make the difference."

Open cooperation and communication
So everything had to be right down to the last detail before the plug was finally pulled in March. The technical team from Sint-Andries Hospital was therefore also invited to the delivery of the installation in the factory. "Then you feel how the total concept works," explains De Man. "We can in a virtual environment, simulate all actions and notifications, so that the complete control is validated before we go to the site." It was clear that Aernout and his colleagues in the technical department were also fully committed to this collaboration.

"Good cooperation is crucial in a project of this magnitude. Thanks to the technical know-how and commitment of the staff, a very open collaboration and communication emerged."
Colin Debruyne, ATS

Synchronous collaboration
This was also necessary. There was only a week to complete the complete replacement without compromising the operation of the hospital. "We followed the RD of '79 on that to the letter and took all the necessary precautions. During the actual conversion, for example, we could not use our operating rooms. Ambulances were therefore diverted," Aernout said. Project manager Arne Van Quaethem acted as orchestra master to ensure that all the services of ATS and subcontractors worked in sync: cooling, ventilation, hoists, cabling, panel building ... "The new power and control boards came in the place of the existing UPS and were co-integrated into the installation. The existing 1,000 kVA emergency group could also be reused, subject to the necessary modifications to allow the new controls." A mobile UPS based on flywheel technology from Luminus Solutions provided the bridging. But even that was not without controversy. St. Andrew's Hospital is in the midst of a residential area. To reduce noise, ATS built sound attenuation around it. Thanks to the expertise of the medium-voltage team, which did most of the cabling work and assembled the UPS, it was possible to meet the schedule.

Added value in operation
So there was no shortage of challenges, but it turned out to be a story of happy endings. St. Andrew's Hospital now has a fully modernized system for its critical power supply. Thanks to the new signs, they have maximum visibility of the new installation. Van Quaethem: "Everything can be monitored: power, consumption, any problems, overloads ... The customer can simulate the entire sequence and test the power group at full load. However, the big added value is in the grid-parallel operation of the power group, which allows the full test sequence to be performed while the installation is in service. Since the grid remains present at all times during this, there is no risk of load. Those elements give enormous added value in operation." In addition, SDM-Projects provides annual training on exactly how the installation works at St. Andrew's Hospital. "So that the team on site can provide first aid in case of problems," De Man clarifies.

Future-proofing built in
Aernout is particularly pleased with how everything went. "It was a particularly difficult exercise, but we have now mastered the entire system, from the power distribution to the complete automation behind it. We were given the freedom by the hospital management to build in that future-proofing. By going that extra mile, we now have an installation that can be replaced plug-and-play when the new UPS reaches the end of its life. Cable out, cable in. Simple," concludes Aernout.

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