VFD Emergency Resulting From Flood – Critical Medical Research Facility

Pre- Thanksgiving Day Mechanical Room Flood – Delta Automation Comes to the Rescue

Call it the perfect storm for not being able to provide a timely fix. It’s 3:45pm on the Wednesday before the Thanksgiving break and the emergency call comes in. A municipal 16in water main has burst and flooding in a mechanical room has occurred. All of the mechanical equipment is under 5 feet of water in minutes.  The building is a critical medical research facility that contains multiple floors of laboratory experiments, many using live animals. To make matters worse, the outdoor temperatures are frigid with nighttime lows forecasted to be in the lower 20s. There are numerous pieces of mechanical equipment involved. The critical systems are identified immediately – a 100% outside air H&V unit serving the animal area and a domestic water booster pump array containing 3 pumps to provide adequate pressure to get water to the upper floors of the high rise all of which housed live animals. Within one hour of receiving the call, Delta Automation had a team on the scene led by senior field service engineer Lee Gleason. It turns out that the “Achilles’ heel” of both of the critical fan and pump systems is the variable frequency drives (VFDs). The reason being that the duct and piping systems cannot tolerate full flow and the VFDs are needed for throttling. As a result, the VFDs had to be replaced along with numerous water-logged contactors. The operations manager, Joe Sarver began to orchestrate a plan that consisted of 1) using the sales team to develop pricing, availability, and emergency shipment of multiple VFDs, (2) staffing of the on-site repair for the long holiday weekend, and (3) acquisition of parts and cleaning supplies to repair contactors, connectors and other appurtenances necessary to get the drives back on line. Because of the diligent effort of Lee Gleason, who worked tirelessly through Thanksgiving evening and long hours during the weekend, and help from drive tech, Tommy Cimburke, shop manager, Mike Martinelli, Dave Lennon and Joe Sarver who all pitched in, Delta Automation was able to restore air and water service to the building just in the nick of time. Because of the extreme cold, building authorities were just minutes away from having to terminate hundreds of experiments costing thousands of dollars and literally thousands of hours in experimental time that could not be recovered. The moral of this story: Because today’s mechanical systems are not always capable of allowing for full air and water flow, it is critical to have a disaster plan in place that includes VFD maintenance, replacement, and inventory strategies. Delta Automation can help you with the restoration and repair of VFDs. Better yet, Delta can assist with developing a proactive approach to implement your emergency plan to support your VFDs should a crisis situation arise such as the one described above.

As shown in the photos below, a before then after, and another photo showing the waterline.

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About deltaautomation

President of Delta Automation, Inc. Working in industrial automation in excess of 30 years
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