The Hospital Accreditation Standards specify using a dynamic load such as building load, which can change from moment to moment. During monthly tests, generators must be continuously loaded to at least 30 percent of their nameplate capacity (or a minimum engine exhaust temperature) for at least 30 minutes. For more information, see the ASCO Power Technologies document entitled Load Banks for Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities
Based on the referenced standards, an effective test program involves at least 12 test events per year, including a longer annual test, and many healthcare facilities conduct weekly tests as well. This requires facilities to schedule the events and dedicate the necessary personnel. Among their duties will be the recording of data and the compiling of reports, which must be available for Joint Commission auditors, whose work influences the accreditation or re-accreditation of a healthcare facility.
Recording data sounds straightforward, but the task is made onerous by the amount of information required. In a facility that uses engine-generators, paralleling switchgear, and automatic transfer switches, salient information is required from each device. The following parameters are just some of the information needed to assess whether the performance of a backup power system has complied with code requirements. For gensets and paralleling gear, this includes the times at which Engine Start Signals were applied and removed, as well as the power output of the generator and the exhaust temperature of its engine. For transfer switches, this includes the time when the utility source became unacceptable, when the corresponding transfer was initiated, the resulting switch position, and times when delays were invoked and synchronization was achieved.
The traditional method for obtaining this information was to manually record it, which requires someone to travel to equipment; inspect an interface; and record the needed values. The scale of the collection effort becomes clearer when the quantity of devices and frequency of testing are considered. A central hospital in a small city could be equipped with four generators, extensive paralleling switchgear line-ups, and three dozen transfer switches. Trying to effectively obtain the needed data presents multiple problems.
: The Joint Commission criteria require 30 or more percent load for a minimum of 30 minutes. If the amount of load drops below 30 percent at any moment, the test is noncompliant. Manually checking displays on generators can result in discontinuous data.
Limited Real-Time Feedback
: When equipment is located throughout the facility, it is difficult to simultaneously assess the equipment status and circuit conditions. Instead, staff may need to move across a facility each time data is needed from a device. This can be surmounted by adding some form of data logger to each device, but the feedback will not be in real-time; rather one can verify whether the results are compliant only after a test is over and someone travels to each device to collect the data.
: Data collection may also require personnel to operate controllers to obtain the data. This offers opportunities for human error when (1) operating the controls, and (2) reading or recording the data.
: Manually recording data usually means manually compiling test reports. If the data is written, it typically needs to be entered manually into a spreadsheet for evaluation. If the information was logged on each device, the files need to be downloaded and compiled into a spreadsheet. Thereafter, an evaluation is performed to verify whether the data meet the Joint Commission requirements. In many instances, a non-compliant condition may first be noted long after the test event is complete.
The Advantages of the ASCO Joint Commission Reporting Package
ASCO’s Joint Commission Reporting Package
logs data from enabled critical power devices via Modbus, evaluates and annunciates conditions in real-time, then automatically compiles test data into reports and distributes these to authorized recipients. It solves the challenges associated with backup power system testing as follows.
Continuous Data Logging
: The Joint Commission Reporting Package is based on the same platform that powers ASCO’s acclaimed Critical Power Monitoring Appliances. This solution establishes communications between critical power devices to collect the operating data needed for verifying compliance. Continuous data logging at each device is centrally recorded by an industrial-grade personal computer, avoiding data gaps that could result in a non-compliant result.
Actual Real-Time Feedback
: Because test data is continually sent to a central device for processing and storage, real-time feedback can be gained in multiple ways:
• First, the data from all monitored devices can be processed and displayed at a central location. This eliminates the need for staff to move about a facility to gather temporally disparate information. Rather, concurrent data from all devices are displayed to provide a complete and accurate real-time description of equipment status and power conditions.
• Second, users can be immediately notified when some parameter of a test is noncompliant. In this instance, a user may elect to extend the test to achieve the needed runtime and collect compliant data before the test run is terminated.
With these capabilities, users can know whether power system data is compliant as it is acquired, not after the test is over. During a test, the system can instantly recognize when the test data violate the “30/30 Rule” and can allow operators to extend a test to capture data from the necessary amount of compliant run-time. Avoiding a negative result can help a facility avoid a corresponding obligation to run a longer and more intense annual test.
: Because data are logged without human involvement, there is less potential for errors from misread or misrecorded data. This can increase compliance by avoiding mistakes produced by manual processes, not only in the collection of data but in its evaluation as well.
: When a test is complete, the ASCO Joint Commission Reporting Package automatically compiles a test report, then stores and distributes the records. There is no data entry step and no configuring of spreadsheets to evaluate the result. All this is completed automatically, and data are immediately labeled as “Pass” or “Fail”. Errors in data management and evaluation are avoided because to process is automated. The following figure shows excerpts from a report generated by a Joint Commission Reporting Package.
ASCO’s Joint Commission Reporting Package
can also be used to evaluate the performance of backup power equipment used for non-critical and non-safety loads.