The Northern Health & Social Care Trust (NHSCT) is the largest health trust in Northern Ireland, delivering health and social care services to a population of 470,000. NHSCT operates c. 150 sites, all run by a building management system to control heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC).
In 2019, the NHSCT embarked on a programme to upgrade the Trust’s building management system – which is run through a network of more than 200 outstations – and improve efficiencies, both from a cost perspective and to reduce energy consumption.
BT worked with Newtownabbey-based ATC Systems Ltd to design a modern upgrade to NHSCT’s building management system. Using the Internet of Things (IoT), BT and ATC provided NHSCT with the ability to monitor all outstations within the building management system remotely and identify problems as quickly as possible, often with just a few taps on a screen.
In 2019, 74% of the NHSCT building management system required an upgrade. In the planning stages, the NHSCT was keen to have the latest technology to reduce time spent on maintenance and to reduce costs. The Trust spends £6.5 million per year on heat, light and power, so efficiencies are always welcome.
The NHSCT saw the system upgrade as an opportunity to reduce their net energy consumption as called for by a new strategy, the “Energy Management Strategy and Action Plan to 2030”, from the Northern Ireland Executive. The NHSCT wanted to use the building management system upgrade to reduce their energy consumption by 10% as part of a wider goal to lower net energy consumption by 30% across the Trust by 2030, in line with government guidance.
In addition to a reduction of energy consumption, the NHSCT also needed a system that could manage todays increased threat of cyber security attacks and needed to achieve the latest IT standards.
Overall, the NHSCT knew they needed a more efficient, connected and innovative building management system but they needed BT to help them develop the right one.
The NHSCT turned to BT to design a solution to upgrade the existing building management system. BT worked with local management system specialist ATC Systems Ltd and presented a solution based on IQ®VISION, software that brings together controllers and smart devices into one central platform. The solution allows Estate Officers to monitor key factors such as heating, hot water and room temperatures, but also other pieces of data, such as room occupancy so the Trust can see how space is being used. The new system relies on a strong network and the IoT, allowing different objects, such as temperature sensors, to collect and feedback data over the internet.
The solution was a complete overhaul to the Trust’s previous system and required an upgrade of both software and hardware.
James Carson, Energy and Environment Manager, NHSCT said the new building management system gives him and his team the ability to monitor several controls through one central platform.
“This project to upgrade the Trust’s building management system has been a resounding success. Previously the Trust used four different systems which have now been incorporated onto a single platform. We have replaced obsolete systems and hardware with Trend IQ4E controllers and respective equipment and upgraded our software to IQ®VISION. We now have a building management system that is efficient, reliable and fit-for-purpose.”
The full upgrade of the Trust’s building management system is still in the process of being rolled out, but James has already seen benefits.
“Before we had this new system, if there was a fault reported, a member of staff would have had to visit the site and physically go to the plant room to diagnose and fix the issue,” James said. “Now more than 20% of problems can be fixed remotely. We’ve seen massive savings in time and money.”
James said the Trust is on track to see a reduction of £225k in costs, which was the savings goal for the three phases of the project.
In addition to reducing costs, the new system is also compatible with the Trust’s latest IT cyber security guidelines and the system has helped the Trust build analytics, giving them data to help with planning and allocating resource.
“Not only is the building management system an integral part of ensuring thermal comfort across the Trust’s estate, but it plays a key role in preventing Legionella [a bacteria that causes pneumonia or flu like symptoms]. We are able to have sight of water temperatures throughout the estate.” James said. ”The plan is to build on the success of the Building Energy Management System or BEMS for short - upgrade and now look into Building Analytics, for example to improve space utilisation.”
Finally, while it is too soon to say how close the Trust is to meeting its target of 10% reduced net energy consumption through the building management system, James is confident the new solution will help meet initial KPIs and further environmental targets, even 30 years in the future.
“We’re expecting a lot of focus on carbon in the future, with the goal to get to net zero carbon by 2050,” James said. “Ultimately now we’ll have a platform that’s up to standard to help us meet even more goals.