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Engineering a Better Life: In Focus

The Boston Children's Hospital Project

sign for Boston Children's Hospital outside of the building

Highlights from article:

  • Our RadiPac (K3G560-HE07-01) is currently being used at Boston Children’s Hospital to move air through the hospitals air handling unit (AHU).
  • The purified air that is produced helps patients, families, and staff stay safe from air-borne illnesses.
  • This project successfully lowered the AHU’s harmonics distortion, saving the hospital money and mitigating any harm to its sensitive equipment.
air handling unit being raised on crane to install it on building

 In this first installment of Engineering a Better Life: In Focus, let’s take a look at a project that helped Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts upgrade their HVAC system.  For this particular project, we were first approached by Cambridgeport Custom Air Solutions (Cambridgeport Custom), based out of Randoph, Massachusetts that specializes in creating custom HVAC solutions. Cambridgeport Custom is a long-standing customer with ebm‑papst. We have worked with them for at least 20 years on various projects and we appreciated them thinking of us when designing a solution for the children’s hospital. With this project, the hospital was looking for a blower that could move large amounts of air through the heavy filtration units using less power than their original model and maintain a low harmonic distortion level.         

 Before any project can get started there is always a process of figuring out which product best fits the required specifications. Greg Ford worked with Cambridgeport Custom to identify our RadiPac High Static fan as a great fit for the needs of Boston Children’s Hospital. With Cambridge Custom on board, we just had to convince the architectural/engineering company, BR+A. Dave Spofford led the charge to convince BR+A that our fan was the best and took a few trips up to Boston to convince them that our RadiPac fan would be the most efficient choice while also providing the necessary redundancy (using multiple fans instead of just one so if one fails the overall system will keep working). As you can imagine, it is critical for hospital facilities to ensure important systems like HVAC are always up and running. With a sample of our fan in hand, it didn’t take long for BR+A to realize the capabilities of our RadiPac fan wer the best fit for the job. 

Image of radial fan used in the AHU of Boston Children's Hospital

The next test for our colleagues involved the harmonic distortion of the fan. Harmonics are unwanted current that cause distortion on the power wire. The higher the harmonic distortion, the higher the current draw for the same amount of power. Higher currents require larger components (cabling, circuit breakers, fuses, transformers, etc.) in order to handle the current. In new projects, you can size things up in order to handle a higher current, but in a retrofit project, like with Boston Children’s Hospital, the infrastructure already exists, and replacing it would be too costly. Additionally, high harmonic distortion can cause malfunctions and shutdowns of the sensitive equipment in use at the hospital. It can also significantly shorten the life span of the equipment, which would result in increased costs for the hospital.

This project required our fans to have a maximum of 5% harmonic distortion, but that is 6 times lower than the normal harmonic output of our RadiPac fan. In order to overcome this particular problem, we had to enlist the help of our colleagues in Germany to find a filter and design a software patch for our fan that would reduce the harmonic distortion and bring the fan into compliance with the project specifications and systems already in use at the hospital. The original German filter manufacturer could not meet US voltage requirements, so we were forced to use an alternate supplier. There were many delays associated with finding the right filter supplier which left us on the verge of losing the business. Only the project team's hard work and diligence were able to keep things going - we were able to come through for Boston Children’s Hospital. 

The final hurdle for this project was something that we are all familiar with at this point and that is supply chain delays. The fan that was originally chosen for this project had to be switched out for another fan due to lead times. Once again our project team came through and found solutions to get the children’s hospital their fans on time. After the first phase of the project was finally finished, Boston Children’s Hospital reported more than 38% power savings from the upgrade to their HVAC system. 

 

Bringing Engineering a Better Life Into Focus

How does this project align with our “engineering a better life” philosophy? Let’s use our company values - efficiency, progress and humanity – to find out.

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Efficiency and Progress

Boston’s Children’s Hospital needed to upgrade their HVAC system to save on money and to help reduce their carbon footprint. With Cambridgeport Custom’s design featuring our RadiPac fans, the hospital has achieved a power reduction of 38% and now has the necessary redundancies to prevent a system failure.  The smaller fans we recommended made installation faster and more efficient as well which saves costs and improves serviceability. What’s next for this project? There are plans in the future to continue to modify which fan model is used at the hospital. We continue to bring them the latest and greatest in motors and impellers, saving the installer a lot of labor and material costs.

Humanity

Our fan has a direct impact on the lives of the patients and families at the children’s hospital. The air handling unit and filtration system means a better health outcome for the patients thereby reducing the amount of stress on their family members. The powerful circulation of clean air also means the hospital staff is better protected from air-borne illnesses.

Humanity is also in the hard work of our employees. We want to thank the many people responsible for getting this project through the many obstacles it faced. Our colleagues from Customer Relations, Sales, Engineering, Production and Shipping helped to get this project over the finish line resulting in success for our company and a safer, cleaner environment for everyone at Boston Children’s Hospital. 


Air Handling Unit (AHU): In Focus

illustration of  process of the different areas of an air handling unit

The above is an illustration of a typical air handling unit (AHU) and how it operates. 

The above simplified illustration shows an air handling unit (AHU) and how it operates with one of our RadiPac fans. 

This article is brought to you by the Brand Ambassadors of North America: 

 

Leah Brooke Tilson
Kyle Wills
Brian Murray
Regina Cleaves
Owen Butler
Lee Ulinskas

If you would like to join the Band Ambassador team and help us to bring awareness of our company mission and goals to other employees,
please contact us at brand@us.ebmpapst.com