Thursday, 9 April 2015

Carl Turbitt, ABB's UK HVAC Drives Team Leader writes: With a general election looming, the NHS is in the spotlight yet again. Whether it’s ‘the NHS is safe with us’, or ‘we’ll give the health service more money’, all parties are setting out how they will safeguard its future.

Health costs continue to rise as new treatments become available so the NHS probably needs the extra cash. But what about the other side of the health cost equation – savings?

Behind the headline grabbing figures of NHS spending, there are the hidden operational costs that the public rarely get to know about but which are equally vital to a viable health service.

Take air handling. Good quality air is of course essential for hospitals but could it be provided in lower volumes to save money?

An example of what can be achieved is Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, a 370-bed acute district general hospital serving patients in North and Mid Bedfordshire. ABB authorised value provider Inverter Drive Systems (IDS) suggested it could install variable-speed drives (VSDs) on the hospital’s motor-driven fan applications.

Kevin Stephenson, Estate Manager for Engineering for the hospital, says: “We were attracted by IDS’ proposal, particularly by the low payback times of around a year they said we could achieve.”

Four air handling units (AHUs) in the maternity and pathology departments were identified as suitable candidates. Sited in waiting rooms and other general areas, converting these to use VSDs would cause minimal disruption. The air volumes could be adjusted and energy saved without the need to meet the air change rates required for more critical areas such as theatres.

The solution involved four 11 kW drives and one each of 7.5 kW, 15 kW and 3 kW. All were three-phase, ABB HVAC drives, ACH550, with IP54 enclosures.

Before installation, IDS had predicted a speed reduction of 15 percent but actually achieved 20 percent. This equated to a saving in energy costs of £15,000 a year, with payback in only 11 months.

A bonus for the hospital is that the motors also run quieter, suffering less wear and tear and reducing the maintenance requirement.

With such large savings, this is one example of health service cuts we can all support.

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