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

Metellus of Siemens says, “The Siemens Uptime Center has the Guardian Program, for remote monitoring of critical aspects of the MRI system. You can subscribe to this optional service allowing Siemens to remotely read environmental conditions such as component (RF, gradients, and magnet cold head) cooling and temperature fluctuations which can be an indicator of water cooling performance.”

If Siemens sees something abnormal, it can proactively send a service call to address the situation. One of the challenges with remote monitoring from beyond the hospital’s own four walls is the fear of cyber attacks and unwanted network access. “With cybersecurity issues rampant these days, some hospital IT departments don’t want people from the outside to have access inside the hospital network,” Metellus says. “We have a VPN, or virtual private network. It’s secure, with encryption to add a level of comfort and ease concerns of the IT department.”

One option is to provide the chiller service company with remote data through a system that allows outbound emails only. There are similar setups that can send texts to a cell phone, but this can create a monthly cell phone bill.

Don McCormack

Predictive service and predictive maintenance
Anyone who owns a car knows about the dreaded “check engine light,” which indicates that you’d better get service soon because something bad is about to happen. This is a predictive service scenario, and something like it is already happening in the chiller business. Some machines have an on-board data analyzer, and if operating parameters are trending in a bad direction, its “check engine light” comes on, and it will send an email saying not only that it needs maintenance, but why it needs maintenance. In an ideal world, any machine would get service when it’s needed, and before a shutdown occurs.

Predictive maintenance is akin to actuarial studies done in the insurance industry. “We base it all on actual and/or projected operating hours,” says King. “Basically, any chiller that has reached 1,500 operating hours needs a PM. ”If they know an MR is a workhorse, so is the chiller, and they can plan on being at that site every two months. If it’s doing light duty, sometimes doing a PM just once a year is enough. In the new field of predictive maintenance, King admits, “there are companies out there doing a heck of a better job than we are.”

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