Self-reliance dotcom - online facility services strengthens university's physical plant operations
Since its inception in 1911, the University of Regina in Saskatchewan’s capital city has grown to mirror the dynamic people and economy of the Canadian province, providing an ideal study and work environment for more than 12,000 full- and part-time students.
In recent years, the university has experienced impressive physical expansion, due in large part to its academic reputation. Since 1995, the school has doubled its footprint to support a long-range goal of accommodating a student population of more than 25,000.
On Its Toes - And Its OwnWithout question, the university’s need to serve the educational requirements of its growing student base has kept the physical plant department on its toes. The more than 30 technicians and engineers on staff for years have prided themselves on their extensive technical expertise, keeping up with the rapid campus expansion, as well as managing routine maintenance issues that arise with minimal outside assistance.
This tradition of self-reliance is what sets the school’s physical plant staff apart from many others, according to Wayne Jackson, automation lead for the university. “As a university, we undertook the initiative a number of years ago to become more self-sufficient to help keep operating costs in line,” Jackson said.
While Jackson and his team have performed the bulk of infrastructure and maintenance work over the years, they’ve partnered with Honeywell - the university’s building automation provider - to provide a helping hand when needed. Today, some of that assistance comes electronically via Honeywell Service Online (HSO), a suite of Web-based tools, information and system support that complements Honeywell service agreements.
Self-Reliance SupportHSO provides real-time information about Honeywell systems and equipment, offering greater control and insight into building operations and enabling facility managers to maximize system uptime and occupant comfort. “We’ve found HSO to be the perfect complement to our internal knowledge base,” said Jackson. “The online tools give our team the ability to access technical information, streamline parts ordering and ensure systems are up-to-date.”
Since 1987, the university has used Honeywell equipment to manage the campus infrastructure, starting with a migration from pneumatic controls to Honeywell Excel Plus DDCs, which dramatically improved the school’s HVAC efficiency and energy management. During that time, the university also installed a Honeywell FS90 fire alarm control panel.
In the late ’90s, the university began upgrading its HVAC control system to the Honeywell Excel 5000 product line. And in 2004, it installed Enterprise Buildings Integrator (EBI) to seamlessly manage all of the campus’ building systems through a single front end.
With a wide array of Honeywell equipment in place, HSO has played a key role in helping Jackson and his team maintain their D-I-Y ways. The auto-mated Software Update Service (SUS), a first for the building automation industry, has been particularly effective.
“Because EBI and our other systems are hooked up through the university network, we need them to have the most current software patches,” said Jackson. “With HSO, we don’t have to worry about whether our systems are current. It automatically tells us what needs to be updated and with a few simple clicks a software update or patch is loaded.”
The university also has benefited from direct access to the Technical Assistance Center (TAC), a resource that historically was only available to Honeywell technicians for the most sophisticated product and maintenance questions. Other information sources, such as the Knowledge Center, where users can find product and systems data, and the user forum, which provides an online discussion board for facility personnel to share best practices and solicit recommendations, have been extremely helpful to the physical plant staff.
“We’ve been handling most of the Excel 5000 migration, so TAC and the other resources have been critical,” Jackson said. “If we ever have a product question or need a second opinion, we can quickly get the information we need to fulfill our duties.”
Future PlanningIn addition to their regular maintenance and service duties, the physical plant staff has been engaged in a campus-wide energy initiative aimed at reducing the school’s utility costs and environmental footprint. And, keeping in line with tradition, Jackson and his team are doing most of the work.
As the team moves forward with its energy initiative and other activities, HSO will always be a mouse click away to support their evolving needs. ES