The medical chiller owner’s survival guide

by Robert Garment, Executive Editor | October 21, 2016
From the October 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

All this redundancy, of course, comes with a cost. “Having two of everything doesn’t mean twice the price, but somewhere in the range of one-and-a-half times the price,” according to Trumblee. Hansel of Filtrine claims their chillers ensure “99.9 percent uptime,” through proprietary features. Nestel of Hitachi says redundancy is the customer’s choice. “We don’t see a lot of people opting for total redundancy, so downtime is not that big a problem, as far as we can see,” he says. “For instance, we don’t see a lot of facilities with chillers on their backup power grid. The life-critical equipment, yes, but the chiller, no. So if you have a fully redundant chiller that’s not on backup power, where does that leave you?”

The use of “city water,” from the local system, is a stopgap solution should a chiller go down. The water your typical chiller puts out is not all that cold. It’s around 48 degrees F, but it can be 70 degrees or more. The water that comes out of your tap is typically around 55 degrees F, so for a short period of time, that is good enough. “City water is a stopgap option that helps prevent boil off, but you can’t operate the machine as a scanner,” Hansel notes. A simple bypass valve on the MR lets you switch from chiller water to city water.

John Metellus

Remote monitoring and cybersecurity
Remote monitoring is a major trend in health care for all medical equipment, including chillers. “We’re installing a lot of remote alarm systems now,” says Taylor. “It has become a big part of our business.” That monitoring is, to a large degree, local, and runs on a facility’s subnet. It means the in-house technician doesn’t have to go on the roof or back behind the building where the chiller is located, but can see performance data and get alerts on his computer.

SouthWest Medical Resources, whose core business is not chillers, but is servicing MRs and CTs, has found chiller problems to be such a big part of downtime issues that it is working with a local chiller OEM to create a replacement chiller that provides full remote monitoring functions to help improve uptime. “We’re not selling this chiller wholesale, it’s just for our customers, as a replacement for their existing chiller,” says Mc- Cormack. “The idea we’re working on is to create a much more serviceable chiller that’s more user-friendly because it monitors its own vital functions, and makes that information readily available to the facility’s technicians and our technicians.”

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