Dieselec Thistle Has Everything Under Control in Fife

A major re-alignment of services by NHS Fife across two of its hospitals: Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy and Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline has resulted in a £170 million build programme at the Kirkcaldy hospital. The 500-bed extension has effectively seen PPP vehicle, Consort Healthcare, create an entirely new hospital to accommodate acute services and A&E provision, with the original hospital becoming an annexe to the state-of-the-art new facility.

Best Value

In a setting like this, standby power is not just business critical; it could prove a matter of life or death. In the event of a mains failure, the back-up system has to ensure that power is delivered quickly and efficiently to essential medical equipment – such as life support machines and monitors – and to core services such as lighting, without which medical teams cannot care for patients effectively.

As a result, Consort healthcare was keen to appoint a specialist provider to design and install the hospital’s standby power system, including a complex control system that would both restore power quickly in the event of a mains failure, and prioritise power distribution to the most essential services first. The competitive tendering process not only had to examine the performance of the standby power system, however, but also its purchase cost, its ongoing management and maintenance requirements and its service life based on product quality, flexibility and availability of spare capacity to ensure futureproofing against additional load requirements in the in years to come.

It was Glasgow-based Dieselec Thistle with its local technical support and proposal to introduce a SCADA supervisory control system to the standby power set up that won the contract and the company worked closely with the client to enhance and deliver the specification.

Explains George Hobbins from Dieselec Thistle: “While technically this was a hospital extension, the brief was like that of a new build and the standby power was to service the entire site and be housed in a completely new energy centre alongside the hospital’s boilers, biomass plant and CHP.  For this state-of-the-art hospital our remit was to design a state-of-the-art solution that would minimise cost, disruption and maintenance while providing a failsafe against any interruptions to the hospital’s power supply.”

At the Double

The power requirements for the new Victoria Hospital called for three 1,250 Kva high voltage standby generators to operate simultaneously with a fourth identical generator also specified as a double standby to enable any one of the four to be out of action for repairs or maintenance.

Dieselec Thistle developed the specification which included 12m long 70dba noise attenuated enclosures, dual redundant starter motors and dual batteries. The company also supplied and installed  a full pro-logic control system (PLC) to ensure seamless automatic trigger of the standby power system if the main power supply should fail and share the load efficiently across the three duty standby generators.

George continues: “The whole configuration was designed to include as many dual safety precautions as possible so that there is always a plan B in place if for any reason the standby generators should fail.  In a hospital environment, particularly where there are acute services, this belt and braces approach is simply best practice.”

The system has also been designed to ensure that maintenance requirements are kept to a minimum, reducing its whole life costs. The SCADA system integrated with the standby generators provides a further safeguard as this monitors the equipment at all times, alerting the maintenance team of any warnings and providing fault diagnostics so that any issues can be tackled quickly.

Comments Colin Macrae from Consort Healthcare: “A system like this not only provides peace of mind in terms of effective standby power, it also dramatically reduces the maintenance burden.  Manual testing is not required, routine maintenance is reduced and reactive maintenance is both timely and targeted.”

To The Test

The generators were manufactured at FG Wilson’s factory in Larne, Northern Ireland and underwent a thorough witnessed load test before being dispatched to Fife.  The tests provided Dieselec Thistle with valuable information about small adjustments required to the control system so that these could be implemented prior to installation on site.

Dieselec Thistle carried out the full electrical and mechanical installation for all four generators, including the installation of remote control stations in all the substations around the hospital which are controlled directly by the PLC via a dual fibre optic network to provide automatic control of the HV network.  Once the generators were completely installed, they underwent a very rigorous and fully documented testing programme prior to commissioning.

Long-term Reliability

With testing and commissioning completed, the hospital was able to begin the transfer of services to the new building in December 2011 and the hospital is now officially open and fully operational.  Dieselec Thistle has been awarded the maintenance contract for the standby power services by Consort Healthcare as part of the ongoing PPP hospital management programme and the company’s local base in Glasgow will help to ensure that any maintenance requirements are both timely and cost-effective

Colin Macrae adds: “Ongoing system management is just as vital as initial specification and installation.  Hopefully our requirements for standby power will be few and far between but we’re confident that we have the automated controls and proven expertise in place to ensure our standby generators are completely reliable if and when that need does arise.”

Dieselec Thistle are also supplying and installing standby power systems for various other NHS Hospitals, including a 25mVA high voltage system for the New South Glasgow Hospital (Southern General).