Most hospitals and medical centers have contingency plans in place to help manage the consequences of natural disasters and building systems failures that could impact normal operations and affect the healthcare organization’s ability to provide its normal high standard of patient care. Acoording to, Sudarshan S. Ananth, Vice President and Business Head – Climate Solutions at Trane, India, whether facilities professionals are recovering from a natural disaster, undertaking a major renovation or putting together a contingency plan, they are increasingly using rental equipment to meet their temporary heating, ventilation and air-conditioning and power needs.
Leading HVAC rental services companies provide their customers with a wide range of new, state-of-the-art HVAC and power equipment. Rental equipment is usually modified with special framing, piping and electrical features that make delivery, installation and startup fast and efficient. Larger rental companies have equipment staged at various locations nationwide to respond quickly to their customers’ needs.
Temporary HVAC equipment can handle heating and cooling needs while scheduled maintenance is performed on a building’s permanent system. With advance planning and preparation, rented solutions can be installed quickly and efficiently, giving technicians the time they need to service permanent systems without disrupting normal operations. Rental solutions can also be useful for short-term dehumidification needs, such as controlling humidity in a specific area after painting, dry-walling or hardwood floor refinishing.
In many instances, rental HVAC chillers have proven to be a cost effective way to enable companies to continue critical operations when their systems are down or disabled for a short period of time. A variety of companies have effectively used this option including leading Indian pharmaceutical clients and global hotel chains. Leaders at shopping malls based in Cochin and Chennai which initially faced challenges with permanent HVAC system installations opted for short-term rental services because they found this to be an effective solution while their permanent systems were being finalized.
Importance of effective power and HVAC contingency planning
Every company needs to include a power and HVAC contingency plan as part of its comprehensive crisis-response strategy. After all, it does not take a natural disaster to cause millions of dollars in damage, disrupt operations and erode stakeholder confidence. An effective power and HVAC contingency plan minimizes financial risk, protects the health and safety of building occupants, and provides peace of mind for the company and its stakeholders.
Here are some steps companies can use to evaluate, analyze, create and implement a contingency plan that meets their specific needs:
• Assess the financial, operational and patient impact of a disruption in power or HVAC service. Experienced contingency service providers can help organizations estimate the true costs of unplanned downtime, which go far beyond the cost of repairing systems in a crisis mode.
• Identify the potential causes of system failure – including natural disasters, power outages, equipment failures or even sabotage – and rank them based on their probability, potential to disrupt normal hospital operations and financial cost.
• Commission a critical-system audit to identify mission-essential power and HVAC systems and evaluate their current operating condition. Address performance problems and document potential failure points. Many organizations engage a third-party expert to help with their audit.
• Identify areas within the facility that would have the greatest impact on mission-essential operations and the bottom line in the event of an unplanned service interruption.
• Develop and implement the HVAC and power contingency plan. Provide training and conduct drills to verify the process and identify areas for improvement. Make required building modifications. Review and update the plan each year or whenever there is a significant change in the facility, such as a building modification or expansion.
• Find the best place to position temporary equipment on the site and know in advance how the systems will be connected to the building. Identify potential challenges, prepare connection points in advance and arrange for any required permits. This includes determining whether current electrical service is sufficient to operate temporary equipment, such as a chilled water system or supplementary HVAC unit. There is no substitute for having the right connections for electrical, water and air ducts when it comes to speeding response time during a crisis situation.
• Using all this data, develop a summary report. The report should outline requirements, actions that need to be taken and all associated costs and how they will be allocated.
• Identify reliable, experienced contingency planning consultants and temporary solutions providers. Leading contingency planning consultants have proven tools to ensure that the facility develops a complete, effective and useful contingency plan that does not just gather dust.
Time and money spent on contingency planning is an investment that often pays for itself several times over after just one real-world use. Construction and design professionals can play a key role in helping their customers prepare for potential crisis situations, so it is important that they understand the thinking behind HVAC and power contingency planning.