Smart electrification — the central nervous system for resilient healthcare infrastructure

ABB Australia Pty Ltd
By Ian Richardson, Building Solutions Technical Specialist, Electrification, ABB Australia
Friday, 01 April, 2022


Buildings have a complex infrastructure of systems, just as the human body has a complex anatomy of parts that interact to form a functional unit. Central to the human body is the nervous system, but could a healthcare facility have a central nervous system? It certainly can.

A smart electrification network is the central nervous system for the most resilient healthcare infrastructure and is a necessity for any future facing medical facility. Everyone involved in designing or managing modern healthcare facilities faces intense pressure, from increasing resource efficiency to delivering more effective patient outcomes.

Smart electrification delivers the resilience that is urgently needed to power modern resource-intensive medical treatments, provide care for vulnerable patients, and meet the sustainability and return on investment (ROI) targets of the stakeholders. Becoming smart is no longer optional, it is a strategic imperative of modern infrastructure.

Working as a hospital’s central nervous system, ABB’s systems deliver an intelligent power network for today’s most efficient and effective healthcare facilities. The flexibility of the systems enables rapid adaptation to changing conditions and challenges, reducing compliance risk and dramatically cutting operating costs.

The overall performance of a healthcare facility must satisfy some basic needs: environmental sustainability, health and comfort, life cycle cost and value; and future performance. These basic needs can be broken down to seven performance criteria that measure the quality of the building itself.

Connectivity: The building must allow its intelligent components to connect as well as ensuring proper cyber security measures are observed.

Efficiency: The building must optimise energy consumption and support the efficient use of resources.

Total cost of ownership: The building should provide transparency of the operating and maintenance costs. Predictive alerts should occur before a major fault and prevent unexpected downtime.

Sustainability: The building must run with the best CO2 footprint, in accordance with the sustainability goals of the stakeholders and community expectations.

Productivity: The building should enhance the productivity of employees and set the right conditions for light, air quality, temperature, adapting to the occupancy and expected performance.

Flexibility: The building technology must allow it to adapt easily to new usage requirements.

Well-being: The building technology must keep employees and visitors safe and healthy.

As an element of the building’s central nervous system, ABB’s open-standard i-bus® KNX is compliant with the Australian Technical Specification for building Automation, SA/SNZ TS ISO/IEC 14543.3, and can reduce staff workload by automating core building functions such as lighting, shutter control, heating, ventilation, security, and energy management. Patient rooms can be automatically configured to respond to individual needs, saving staff time while maintaining high-quality service.

In the smartest hospitals, intelligent electrification is used to not only monitor but to quickly predict or detect issues and then deploy the right response. Harmonic changes in a medical scanner, an air conditioning system or a switch can be an early indication of a fault. Predictive maintenance algorithms make identifying and fixing this type of error faster and less expensive. They allow hospital facility managers and end-users to remotely monitor the power system health 24 hours a day, via a cloud-based energy management platform.

Predictive maintenance of this type is not restricted to greenfield developments or closed single supplier ecosystems. The ABB Ability™ Energy and Asset Manager is an example of an open standard cloud platform that integrates easily with third-party hardware and application programming interface (API) platforms, making it ideal for both new build and retrofit upgrades.

Better energy management is also key to improved asset return on investment (ROI) and maximum energy efficiency. Smart metering and monitoring systems help ensure facilities have flexible and scalable access to the power they need. With the right system, facilities can expect a 7 percent improvement in energy efficiency, facilitating verification ratings such as NABERS and Green Star, and typical ROI in less than three years.

Cost reductions of 50–60 percent are also achievable thanks to reduced energy use and longer asset lifecycles, using solutions like KNX single room and KNX ventilation control alone.

Healthcare infrastructure is a critical environment, and the resilience of the power supply is more important than ever in the modern medicine world. Added to this is the wider social pressure on medical facilities of all sizes to operate sustainably and reduce their overall waste and emissions footprint, as well as contributing to the well-being of patients, staff and visitors. Fortunately, solutions are available to apply on a holistic level from medium voltage point of supply through to low voltage distribution, cloud based smart asset management, active energy management, supervisory control systems, integrated building automation, emergency lighting, HVAC control, energy management and EV charging.

Download ABB’s comprehensive Health Solutions e-book that reviews the technology needed to support smarter operations: https://campaign.abb.com/ABB_Hospitals_Healthcare_Building_Solution_article

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Monkey Business

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