The National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) is the global leader in the field of biological standardisation, responsible for developing and producing over 90% of the International Standards in use around the world to assure the quality of biological medicines.

Detail Design Engineering have worked on the site for over 15 years designing, installing, upgrading and maintaining the Building Energy Management System.   The Institute was built during the 1980s and comprised a wide range of facilities and laboratories and had an equally wide range of plant and services operated through a conventional control system.  In 1996 when DDE won their first project on the site there were just 15 BEMS controllers that had been installed as part of an extension project.  Since then, the BEMS has expanded to over 200 outstations that address nearly every service and facility on the site.


Trend Controls Building Energy Management System product is now the primary control product.  At one time or another every generation of controller and supervisory PC package has been installed in a fully integrated solution.  In the last few years the earliest controllers have been replaced with the newest ethernet technologies and sit along side a range of control equipment, communications devices, data gateways a webserver and various supervisory PCs.  Integrated network solutions have also been provided for the boilers, generators and chillers that enhance the monitoring and control for the facilities management team.


The controls products are used in two primary roles.  The BEMS is used for the “conventional” control, monitoring and alarm handling of all the primary plant including boilers, ancillary heating plant, chillers, air handling units and many sub-systems such as VRF comfort cooling.  Much of the plant is designed for complex laboratory systems including Class A and B Clean Room environments and Category 2, 3 & 4 containment suites.  In many areas, control of the room pressure regime is maintained through the BEMS and in some areas the control strategies are made more complicated by the requirement for integrated and automated fumigation protocols.


The second area where the BEMS equipment is widely used is for monitoring the performance of scientific storage equipment including fridges, freezers, incubators, cold rooms and liquid nitrogen vessels.  For over 600 items of equipment, temperature sensors are installed to provide instantaneous reading and alarm control for the facilities management team.  Temperature and setpoint data is recorded to the BEMS supervisors on a regular basis to provide a historic record of the equipment performance.  The BEMS supervisors are configured to enable users to view and adjust high and low alarm temperature setpoints and time delays, to enable/disable individual sensor’s alarm action and to view, print and record graphs showing the sensor data and the associated high and low alarm setpoints for every individual piece of equipment.


In 2010 the Detail Design Engineering won the contract for the control system for the new Infuenza Research Centre  and UK Stem Cell Facility.  Part of the project included a scheme of over 70 devices that were added to the scientific data recording system.   In this instance there was a supplementary requirement for the monitoring scheme to be validated and meet the requirements of cGMP and 21CFR Part11.  DDE installed more equipment to meet the specification including a Trend 963 Secure supervisor and integrated the additional sub-scheme in to the site data recoding and alarm handling strategy.


In the last year DDE have continued to provide maintenance and service support to the site and have turned the focus to energy!  With the ever increasing cost of energy the Institute is working with DDE and other suppliers to identify and control energy consumption.   A combination of intelligent and conventional metering is linked to the BEMS to help in the analysis by delivering nightly energy reporting data to an external Energy hosting business.  It is hoped this will lead to clear identification of “energy projects” that will enable the NIBSC to reduce and limit its energy footprint.



NIBSC Alarm Control

The alarm handling protocol within the NIBSC is designed in several layers.   Individual alarms are designated by importance and alarm handling action to one of a number of groups, each group using one or more of the alarm layers.


Layer 1 – local alarm annunciation and control

For critical “life critical” alarms, hard wired local systems are designed to provide local annunciation, indication and control.  Alarms of this nature operate independently to the centralised alarm handling of the BMS although they are likely to be repeated to the BMS alarm systems (layers 2 and 3 below).  An example of a life critical alarm would be the personnel panic alarm within a walk-in freezer.  The emergency KO button initiates a local siren and beacon and the alarm is repeated to the BMS separately.


Layer 2 – BMS Alarm generation using the embedded alarm handling capability of the Trend system.


All alarms within the Trend system are allocated a priority coding designated as Priority 1, 2 3 or 4.  The alarm action for a particular sensor or device is defined by the priority coding.  The Trend 963 and IQ controllers have been set up to operate with Alarm Group settings assigned to priority levels corresponding to NIBSC alarm priorities 1-4 which facilitates the 963 supervisors to sort alarms on priority coding and action correspondingly.  The “mechanics” behind the generation, sending, receiving, recording and acknowledgement of alarms within the Trend system are part of the embedded “structure” of the Trend hardware/software systems and this document is not designed to describe this functionality.  Within layer 2 of the NIBSC scheme, all alarms, whatever the assigned priority, operate within the embedded structure but the alarm targets and actions are unique to each priority level.


For all IQ controllers, alarms are “Multi-delivered” from the outstation and not re-directed from the primary 963 supervisor. Thus alarm groups and are set up within the controller to deliver alarms to each destination independently.  At least three alarm destinations are set up within each outstation, the two primary 963 supervisors and the gatelodge printer.  In the CBRM building a fourth destination for the CBRM 963 is also set up.  This provides redundancy in the event that one of the targets is offline or unavailable for any reason.

Alarms need to be manually acknowledged at each of the 963 machines.  Acknowledgement at one machine does NOT clear the alarm at the others.   All alarms received at a 963 are recorded to the database on that machine.  Note:  The alarms database within the 963 software is an “Action Log” and records all actions undertaken by the 963 (including user input changes) as well as alarm recording.


At present Priority 1 alarms that are life threatening (low oxygen in liquid nitrogen storage areas for example) are also re-transmitted via text message to the Emergency Response team.  This is carried out by a Trend GSM modem located in the plant space of north labs.    Unfortunately the scheme is slightly compromised by mobile phone reception which is extremely limited in certain parts of the site.  There is a proposal to re-configure the emergency response team call out from a text messaging based system to a centralised radio/pager scheme.  A separate system will take a serial data message from a dedicated communications module on the Trend network and deliver the message to the response team personnel.  As with all layer 2 alarms, the alarm will be generated directly from the outstation to the comms module and will not be re-directed through the 963 machines hence providing improved resilience and performance.


Layer 3 – BMS Alarm generation using separate Inter-Controller Communications.


When a Priority 1 or Priority 2 alarm is generated, a completely separate data string is sent from the outstation where the alarm is generated to a controller (outstation 18) in the lobby outside the stores area to initiate an audible siren located in the maintenance workshop.  If the alarm is one that cannot be rectified simply (eg the equipment has totally failed) the alarms associated with that sensor can be disabled by operation of its dedicated software switch.  This “frees-up” the audible siren for activation by other critical plant or equipment.  The software switches are a simple adjustment point from the 963 schematic pages.   During the out of hours period the audible alarm is sent to a second audible beacon located in the gate lodge.  This alerts the security staff to the presence of a critical (P1 or P2) alarm that would require immediate attention or the call out of the “on-call” engineers.


A third audible beacon is located in the stores compound, outside the maintenance workshop.  This used to act as the primary audible alarm but now operates only if a network failure is detected.  This constitutes a critical condition that must be rectified without delay.


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