Engineering Horizons

PRESENT SITUATION OF HVAC SYSTEMS

PRESENT SITUATION OF HVAC SYSTEMS

February 16
12:59 2019

PRESENT SITUATION OF HVAC SYSTEMS

By: The presenters of this article are Muhammad Sarmad Sultan & Umar Abbas working in REMCA Associates / HVACR Consultants email remcaa@gmail.com and members of Pakistan HVACR Society & ASHRAE USA.

A presentation on the subject matter was given to Planning & Development Department of Government of Punjab on July 7 & October 4, 2017, respectively. On this basis, a Technical Committee was formed to prepare HVAC policy / guidelines on hospital & healthcare facilities. For the general awareness of the readers, the same presentation is reproduced below which one may find of an interest. In fact, it is applicable all the provinces of Pakistan.

Present situation of HVAC System installed in various healthcare facilities in the province of Punjab is not presenting a good picture. Very few healthcare facilities particularly in big cities do have HVAC systems; but as per reports, its working are not satisfactory and upto the mark.

  • Why Projects Fail?
  • When Projects Fail?
  • Where Projects Fail?
  • What are the grey areas?
  • Where are the grey areas?
  • Who to control these failures?
  • How to control these failures?

On account of unsatisfactory conditions and it’s malfunctioning, unhygienic split air conditioners have been installed in most of the healthcare facilities at THQs, DHQs & Tertiary Hospitals, while providing unhealthy environments, as no criteria / parameters of hygienic requirements applicable for healthcare facilities are being and / or have been fulfilled.

Studies reveal that there are following major factors causing deterioration of the conditions of the healthcare facilities and generally are attributed for the malfunctioning of HVAC systems.

We will now discuss in details these factors which are considered as major issues from where the problems spring out.

  1. DESIGN QUALIFICATIONS

1.1       Absence of HVAC Consultants at Conceptual Stage

Oftenly, it happens that while initiating the conceptual design of healthcare projects, the desired provisions of HVAC requirements are not planned on account of the absence of HVAC Consultants —– resulting in dismantling / repairing / finishing of the existing constructed work to accommodate HVAC systems and / or a ‘makeshift’ arrangement of installing of split A/Cs is opted, to avoid dismantling work. In this way, proper design is sacrificed.

1.2       Absence of Design Concept Report

Design Concept Report, prepared by HVAC Consultants is a basic and very important documents, containing computerized calculations of cooling / heating load of each room / zone, giving details of sensible / latent heat, air requirements, psychometric analysis of air, chilled / hot water requirements etc; technical + financial aspects of the project, annual owning & operating charges (Opex) and engineering estimate (Capex) Normally, this document is not available with the client / end user or not submitted to the respective authorities, resulting in that with the passage of time, or turnover of the staff, projects start getting malfunctioning on account of the missing information —– essential for TAB (Testing, Adjustment & Balancing) from time to time.

1.3       Working Drawings

HVAC Consultant is supposed to prepare double line working drawings (not single line drawings) while designing a project. Architect is supposed to coordinate MEP drawings and necessary openings in slabs, walls, vertical shafts should be shown in architectural & structural drawings alongwith the locations of the AHU rooms & HVAC equipment. This information is normally missing in most of the projects during construction stage.

1.4       Poor HVAC Design

Poor HVAC Design means not as per Healthcare standards. Most of the time, budget does not permit / allow to go as per Healthcare HVAC system. Consultants / end users are forced to accept unhygienic / lower standard systems which often happens.

1.5       Vendor Selection

The Criteria of vendor selection for HVAC work for healthcare facilities is very important. It has been noticed that civil & MEP work is awarded to a civil contractor under one roof (in majority cases) who does not have the expertise in HVAC work. After getting the job, the civil contractor oftenly opts ‘China cut style’ for the selection of HVAC subcontractor (s) at lowest rates, —– resulting in bad workmanship and bad quality.

  1. INSTALLATION QUALIFICATIONS

2.1       Approval of Submittals

Approval of submittals of HVAC equipment by the HVAC Consultants are very important. Any missing information / detail, sometime creates problems, confusion, misunderstanding and bad taste amongst the stakeholders; particularly when approving hygienic AHU / FCUs + entering / leaving air conditions + its allied accessories.

2.2       Procurement of Equipment

Procurement of HVAC equipment of correct size & specs like chillers, AHUs, cooling towers, water pumping sets and controls etc; are very important as per the approval of submittals alongwith pre-inspection of such equipment by the Client qualified / concerned Engineers / Technicians —– to avoid undersized / faulty equipment arrival & installation.

2.3       O&M Manuals

Copies of Operational & Maintenance Manuals (O&M Manuals) must be submitted by the contractors / suppliers for each equipment alongwith manufacturer’s recommended spare parts manuals, which are often missing —— creating problems for the O&M staff.

2.4       Training of O&M Staff

Where in-house operation & maintenance have to be done by the Client / end user, they must employ its own O&M staff during the construction / installation stage. The concerned staff shall undergo “hands on” training. If necessary, some staff can be sent abroad for factory training at contractor’s expanses (such expanses are normally included in the bid price as per the tender specs). It has been seen that O&M staff is hired during handing over / taking over process and problems occurred during operation, cannot be tackled by them on account of the  non awareness of the system / equipment, SOPs / specs and operation & maintenance. ASHRAE recommends hiring of O&M staff during designing stage till the completion & commissioning of the project with no turnover.

  1. PERFORMANCE QUALIFICATIONS

Commissioning is a team effort of owner, design professional, contractor, suppliers & commissioning contractor and it is a quality assurance, quality control process that provides the essential documents, testing and training to ensure that a system meets both its design intent and operational needs.

Proper commissioning / Performance Tests are very important for the smooth sailing of the project operation. It has been noticed that often proper attention is not paid by the stakeholders to the following parameters:-

3.1       Testing, Adjusting & Balancing     (TAB)

TAB is the backbone of any project. It requires proper calibration of tools & instruments plus proper training of O&M staff plus a careful preparation & rectification of punch list. Design Concept Report & Schedule of Equipment are basic documents to accredidate such testing. Projects malfunctioning & breakdowns are generally attributed to this area.

3.2       Verification of Indoor Air Quality

Healthcare facilities `are known to have good indoor environment. Good environment means infection & germ free air circulation in healthcare facilities with no foul smell & odor which is the basic & foremost requirements as per the charter of healthcare facilities. Unfortunately, the parameters of having germ free indoor air quality are missing almost from all the hospitals & healthcare facilities. During performance tests, no verification of indoor air quality is done by the stakeholders. It is an alarming situation, where attention is needed.

  1. OPERATION & MAINTENANCE (O&M) QUALIFICATIONS

It is generally considered the most crucial area of troubles, problems, malfunctioning & breakdowns, having the following reasons:-

4.1       Improper Staff

As per findings, proper, relevant & qualified staff is not hired  resulting in unawareness to the problems of operation and maintenance.

4.2       No Training of O&M Staff

Staff is hired during handing over / taking over process of the project. Normally these people do not have proper training & know-how of the systems, HVAC working methodologies and above all, totally ignorant about prevention & scheduled maintenance of the equipment & controls; hence unable to rectify & solve the problems of malfunctioning & breakdowns of the systems.

4.3       No Redundancy

Generally, to minimize the capital cost of the project, redundancy factor of HVAC system is eliminated which varies from 25% ~ 100%, depending upon the importance of the area. Incase of failures of any unit, malfunctioning of HVAC systems cannot be ruled out.

4.4       No Spare Parts

Non-availability of spare parts and consumables at the time of breakdown / preventive / scheduled maintenance is also a big factor for the malfunctioning of HVAC systems.

  1. ABSENCE OF INDEPENDENT THIRD PARTY VALIDATION (TPV) CELL TO MONITOR / VALIDATE PROJECT QUALIFICATIONS

5.1       The healthcare HVAC systems generally become the victims of malfunctioning and breakdowns within a short span after installation / commissioning —— resulting in deterioration of indoor air quality and creation of unhealthy & unhygienic environments for the patients. It all happens due to poor O&M, poor attention and poor understanding / know-how of the healthcare HVAC systems as no one monitors / validates monthly log sheets, biannual IAQ, annual TAB, function of the controls, maintenance schedule & spare parts inventory.

5.2       An Independent Validation Cell in the P&D Department or under the aegis of P&D Department is required to control / monitor / validate the issuance of completion certifications of the projects as per healthcare standards plus the performance of the HVAC systems from time to time.

  1. CAPACITY BUILDING

6.1       Unfortunately qualified Engineers in HVAC field are not available in Pakistan. Middle East has a great attraction of 3 years Diploma holders / B. Tech in HVAC field.

6.2       Qualified & skilled human resource is very vital for desired results from any system and HVACR is not an exemption. Government College of Technology & TEVTA are the public organizations who have designed special curriculum on HVAC system and their graduates / technicians are well versed with HVAC system installation and operations & maintenance.

Pakistan HVACR Society & ASHRAE Chapters in Pakistan are also conducting training & awareness courses, lectures & services of webinars on HVAC system design, selection, installation, operation, maintenance & project managements.

6.4       These courses are designed by ASHRAE and by leading HVAC equipment manufacturers, which are being shared with Government College of Technology & TEVTA students. Pakistan HVACR Society with the help of ASHRAE are working on introducing graduate degree program in public & private sector universities. The faculty members of some universities are also members of Pakistan HVACR Society & ASHRAE Pakistan chapters. We seek P&D Department help, to introduce B.Sc degree in HVACR, leading to M.Sc & PhD. It will be a great national service.

  1. HOW TO TACKLE THIS ALARMING SITUATION??

7.1       The present scenario of healthcare facilities as narrated above, is not encouraging at all. It is currently observed that patients in uncontrolled environments generally have slow physical improvement / recovery. They often become the victims of infection on account of longer stay. Improper ventilation & uncontrolled pressure relationships between different areas, particularly protective & infectious isolation rooms & its ante rooms are the primary means to the spread of air borne viruses in the healthcare environments which are generally overlooked.

7.2       The delivery of quality healthcare services vests with the provincial authorities. On account of the unhealthy environments in almost all the healthcare facilities, P&D Department took an initiative to call a consultative session on HVAC policy / guidelines at P&D auditorium on 7th July 2017 in order to cope up with this alarming situation and to share inputs / suggestions with the participants in framing HVAC policy. This session was concluded with the recommendations of forming a Technical Committee so as to work out a comprehensive policy / guidelines on HVAC Systems to provide germ free environments to the patients, as per ASHRAE standards for healthcare facilities.

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Engineering Horizons

Engineering Horizons

“Engineering Horizons” is the first & leading technical magazine of Pakistan covering Process, Mechanical, Metallurgical, Mining, Electrical & Electronics field under a single cover. We also feel pleasure in saying that this is the only magazine of its own kind & style, which is widely circulated in all Engineering Sectors of Pakistan.

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