Schools need to keep on top of maintenance and repair costs and keep their buildings in the best possible condition to help children fulfil their potential. This is where being forewarned is being forearmed, says Derek Richardson, an environmental manager for Ellab Monitoring Solutions Ltd (formerly Hanwell).
School’s out for summer
In addition to normal times when schools are usually closed for weekends and holidays, Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns and restrictions have added to the challenge of maintaining classrooms and learning facilities when the lights are out and all the pupils and staff are at home.
Intermittent occupancy resulting in sporadic heating and ventilation encourages moisture to evaporate and condense in a school structure. Reacting swiftly to catch leaking pipes or water coming in from outside is vital, especially for buildings that are often more exposed to weather and may be attended less frequently.
As we know many school buildings are part of our historic heritage but their age makes the inspection and maintenance of drainage systems particularly difficult. Water coming through roofs due to blocked gutters and downpipes can soak into timbers and framework causing potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage. Compare that to the tiny cost of putting modern monitoring systems in place.
Then there’s the strict hygiene requirements for canteens, ensuring that fridge and freezer stock are not subject to potentially dangerous temperature variations or even equipment failure. Automated wireless monitoring systems provide real-time tracking of the environment in which food is kept – and could save the day in the event of incidents such as power cuts, fridge failures or doors left open.
Early detection can help nip potential problems in the bud. The last thing canteen staff need on returning to school is to lose valuable stock because of temperature fluctuations caused by dodgy conditions or faulty fridges. Food safety is paramount so why leave your stock to chance.
Wireless solutions are flexible so you can easily move or expand the number of sensors to ensure they are always in the optimum positions, and provide continuous output for consistent and accurate readings, wherever you are.
We recognise that a school canteen needs product reliability as much as any other food outlet. Our Notion Lite system provides accurate, wireless real-time monitoring 24/7 for fridges or freezers.
Notion Lite records and stores a critical log of historical temperature data, sends out warnings to multiple users and triggers an audible alarm day or night whenever any user-set thresholds are exceeded, providing ultimate peace of mind.
Teaching best practice
There is a variety of accurate and flexible environmental management solutions that can protect schools from not just a financial hit but a potential health hazard by instantly warning of compromised conditions. In fact, the latest monitoring systems can also gather data to give head teachers information on what they might need to do to improve the environment within the school.
The key thing is to react swiftly to environmental changes which can be triggered by temperature fluctuations and increasing humidity levels. Undetected flooding or leaks can cause irreparable damage from the top to the bottom of schools. So, an early warning system can prevent interrupted learning time and financial implications.
Monitoring, reporting and automatic alarming can also help combat the risk of disease in water supplying canteens, wash rooms and shower facilities. Maintaining the correct conditions will prevent these areas from becoming breeding grounds for the Legionella bacteria.
Reducing the risk of an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease within water systems can best be achieved using temperature monitoring and control. As Legionella thrives between 20?C – 45?C best practice should be to ensure the following temperatures are maintained at all times – hot water stored above 60? while cold water should be kept below 20?C.
Top of the class
Manual monitoring and checking of environmental conditions in high-risk systems such as water tanks and wash rooms where Legionella can thrive are time consuming, laborious and open to error. Monitoring systems supplied by the likes of Ellab makes preventative measures a breeze.
Hard to access areas can be monitored with wireless sensors that measure pipe and tank temperatures as well as flow using non-intrusive ultra-sonic clamps on flow meters. Places such as wash rooms and shower facilities can be fitted with inexpensive thermocouples linked to a junction box where the data is easily accessed by a handheld device. Alarms are generated from both the wireless sensors and handheld readings alike and can be sent directly via SMS to mobile devices or desktop PCs.
It is estimated there are over 5,000 listed school buildings in England and they face a variety of environment-related challenges which can result in damage to vulnerable areas and contents. Embracing flexible and reliable monitoring equipment to warn of possible problems offers the best possible protection for learning facilities and their students.
Ellab Monitoring Solutions Ltd (formerly Hanwell Solutions) encompasses more than 100 years of accumulated experience in designing, engineering and manufacturing first-class British electronic instrumentation.
The company’s industry specific environmental monitoring and control systems lead the way in accuracy, radio telemetry and software functionality. The Hanwell brand is an established leader within multiple industry sectors such as pharmaceutical, heritage, healthcare and food. With quality at the forefront of its aims the company operates under a Quality Management System which complies with the requirements of ISO9001, as well as a sustainability accreditation under ISO14001 and provides calibration services accredited to UKAS ISO17025.
Acquired in 2019 by the Ellab Group, a global leader in thermal validation and monitoring solutions, the Hanwell brand is a key part of Ellab’s core product range operating in pharmaceutical, food production and healthcare sectors. Ellab’s core values are based on the terms Efficient, Long Term, Loyal, Add Value and Best Quality.
Visit www.hanwell.com for further information
by Derek Richardson, Ellab Monitoring Solutions Ltd