Feature Installation: An Automated Watering System Transformation
The construction of a new animal research facility requires an enormous amount of planning, coordination, and cooperation from vendors and contractors in diverse disciplines. Given the complexity, it is rare for the installation to proceed without issues. But it is uncharacteristic for a cascading series of improbable events to threaten an entire commissioning effort and portend costly start-up delays. Yet that is exactly what happened when a major biotech neared the point of commissioning its newly constructed animal facility.
The facility, with a 14,000 square meter vivarium, was designed to support over a quarter million mice with several holding rooms and hundreds of IVC rack positions. The construction included advanced robotics for the cage handling, a bulk feed and bedding delivery system and a redundant HVAC system designed to handle extremes in weather. The incoming water would be treated by a large 3rd party "house" Reverse Osmosis unit (RO) to remove variability. It would then supply purified water to the laboratories, HVAC, humidification system and the Edstrom-designed recirculation-type automated watering system (AWS).
EARLY DESIGN MODIFICATIONS
Apart from all of the original design considerations, and independent of the requirements for the Edstrom AWS, a major change order for the facility water was issued. Included in the change order was a new water softener system with deionization beds and carbon filters which were installed upstream of the house RO. With these additions to the system, the water now sent to the house RO would be devoid of any biocide protection.
Once installed, the unit was put into service to test functionality. It subsequently remained unused (and without chlorine as a biocide) as the project progressed to the point of commissioning.
As the building neared completion, bacterial organisms bloomed in the chlorine-free stagnant water of the deionization beds. This contamination migrated forward through the house RO, ultimately creating building-wide contamination of the many systems served by the purified water. The Edstrom automated watering system, located downstream of the source of the biological outbreak, had not escaped the spread of this contamination. Edstrom engineers, returning to the facility for a routine pre-commissioning test of the system, were the first to discover the biofilm. The acidified water circulating through the AWS with no active biocide was overwhelmed by the sheer volume and pervasiveness of the bio contamination. A worst case scenario unfolded as, once alerted to the presence of biofilm, the customer discovered that the contamination was facility-wide. This included the purified laboratory water, the heating and cooling units as well as the building humidification system.
The problem was truly severe. As a result of the contamination, all systems supplied by the house RO had to be segregated for sanitization. In the case of the Edstrom AWS, the sanitization process was estimated to take several weeks. Until the entire water purification system was deemed free of biological contaminants, all animals deliveries would be halted. Sentinel animals already onsite, were immediately switched to chlorinated domestic water. Due to the purified water system contamination, facility startup and occupancy would be potentially delayed as much as three months! The situation was understandably tense.
Several teams worked to sanitize the softeners and the other equipment downstream from this source of the contamination. Edstrom engineers, alongside the customer team, worked diligently to sanitize the AWS as well as the manifolds on the animal racks. The inability to provide for high velocity flushing in segments of the recirculating animal water system with a concentrated biocide (chlorine) hampered the sanitization process. In an effort to condense this process, the rack connectors and hoses were returned to the Edstrom factory for sanitizing. To be thorough, thousands of animal drinking valves that had been exposed were completely rebuilt.
As agreed to in the remediation process, individual segments could not be returned to the water purification system until verified contaminate-free by laboratory analysis. With proof that the contamination had been eliminated, the segments were systematically reconnected and tested – successfully.
With new-found awareness, the customer engaged Edstrom and requested a solution to mitigate operational risks to their AWS. Drawing upon previous experience, Edstrom was able to design a simple cost-effective modification to the existing AWS that effectively transformed their recirculating system into a unique hybrid design. This re-engineered system included limited flushing capability and biocide injection with chlorine maintained at 2-3ppm. Edstrom calculated the duration of the daily flush and configured the equipment to ensure that the correct chlorine concentration would be naturally maintained in the hybrid system – a level entirely safe for the animals and consistent with their other facilities.
Edstrom’s ability to deliver a re-engineered system along with associated SOP’s was instrumental during the first few critical months of operation. The facility manager said, "I feel this experience formed a relationship and I’m proud of how Edstrom stepped up to addressing the problems". Further saying that "(Edstrom) refurbishing all their drinking valves went above and beyond" and felt that "together" we developed a hybrid AWS "that satisfies our water conservation needs and minimizes risk now that the system is running on chlorine."
Additionally, Edstrom worked cooperatively with the customer to develop an emergency sanitization procedure which included marked-up, as-built drawings as part of the documentation. The facility now enjoys the water conserving design of a hybrid system along with the reduced risk of another biological outbreak.
Proper communication, education, supervision, and oversight at the conception of the project can make the difference between a successful outcome and one that could be fraught with complications which are potentially very expensive to correct and that might persist for the life of the building.
When problems do occur it strains the resolve of all parties involved. This only serves to underscore the importance of asking the right questions and getting the commitments up-front.
Pulse Speaks Your Language
Pulse™ offers customers a comprehensive web-based control, monitoring and report-generating solution suitable for multi-language and multi-site laboratory operations. It offers native language and measurement unit selection for each person in the facility. Authorized users can access monitored environments at multiple sites from any location, using any standard web browser. Data can be transferred between sites via standard communication protocols, in native language formats, for truly global cooperative studies. Browser-based access allows custom report generation on demand and delivers data quickly to an international audience. Automated and flexible alarming is instantly available as well, and can be delivered locally or to remote locations by phone, email, light panel or text message.
Edstrom created Pulse specifically for life sciences applications. It was developed in collaboration with customers in the academic, government, biotechnology, GMP and pharmaceutical disciplines worldwide to accommodate their needs for a comprehensive monitoring and control solution that is truly global in scope.
With fully scalable architecture and pricing, smaller labs embrace Pulse to avoid the expense of a dedicated computer/server infrastructure, while larger labs take advantage of its scalability to accommodate enterprise-wide multi-geographic sites. Labs of any size can install Pulse easily on any standard network and take advantage of its built-in intelligence and language capability to optimize their operations and lessen the number of variables in their research.
Pulse is universally recognized for its outstanding capabilities and ease of integration. Users can expect an environment that is efficient and safe for all of the lab’s occupants while simplifying and automating the tasks of managing people, processes and parameters.
Improve Animal Logistics
Edstrom SmartLab software package is an inclusive animal research information management tool that includes a standard module on animal logistics. This module is specifically designed for the researchers, managers, accounting and ordering staff in the office – each of whom is given access rights to certain data fields based on their role in animal management activities.
The animal logistics module presents a streamlined method for performing routine tasks such as controlling, managing, order processing, tracking and recording all animal location changes within the facility.
When a staff member logs into SmartLab, the information content that appears on the screen is reduced to display only those fields which are pertinent to the user’s responsibility. Some of these fields will accept new data from the user, other fields containing fixed data will appear in grayed boxes. Animals can be ordered only from pre-approved lists and once received and catalogued, are assigned cages based upon SmartLab-generated cage cards.
Module-specific ‘wizards’ enhance the management process and provide updates in real time, making the entire process more timely and more accurate.
New RO100 Reverse Osmosis
The new Edstrom RO100 is a reverse osmosis water purification solution designed to complement our recirculating-design automated animal watering systems (AWS). The RO100 provides contaminant-free water for a variety of laboratory functions and is ideally suited for an Edstrom AWS, with a water saving design and easily replaceable filters. The control panel on the RO100 has a user-friendly keypad and a backlit screen to afford precise control of all RO functions and operating parameters.
Q: We recently placed several ventilated racks with automated watering into storage. We expect they will remain unused for the next 12-18 months. Do we need to be concerned with any seals, gaskets or diaphragms drying out or needing to be replaced? Do you have any suggestions related to returning this equipment to service?
A: Prior to storage make sure you open the drain, vent bleeder valves and sanitize so that all the water is drained from the rack. Let the inside of the tubing dry out for a couple of days and leave the valves open if there is any chance of freezing. When you are ready to place the racks back in service, do a rack flush and sanitize to clear out any contaminants.
Q: Do you have a solution for control and monitoring of the light cycle in a holding room? Specifically, we have lights on different circuits that we use at different times of the day. Do you have a system that allows us to control and monitor the light cycle and send data directly to the computer so that we can access the data without having to go into the rooms.
A: The Edstrom Advanced Light Module (ALM) is engineered for the specific lighting requirements of the vivarium. It can easily be configured to control up to 4 "on cycles" per day of your lights and continuously monitor lighting conditions and send reports to an offsite computer, via the Edstrom central computer, to a specified device if the lights in a particular room deviate from the programmed schedule.
Edstrom.com: The Document Center
With the launch of our new website in 2011, Edstrom has added a new Document Center to provide our customers with access to product-related and technical information as well as white papers, publications and other materials of interest to those in the industry. Additionally, we’ve included a special section for Architecture and Engineering firms, with its own login, containing supplemental information and product specifications.
The Document Center is your leading resource for technical data and industry perspectives from the company with over forty years of experience in vivarium operations. The contents of the Document Center will be updated so log in to edstrom.com/documents/ to get started, and be sure to check back frequently.
Welcome To The Edstrom Team
Thomas joined Edstrom in October of 2011 as our French Sales Consultant and is based in Paris, France. Thomas attended Ecole supérieure de Chimie Physique Electronique de Lyon, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and Queen Mary, University of London where he earned a Masters degree in Organic Chemistry. Thomas speaks Spanish, English and a little Swedish as well as his native French. Contact Thomas at: email@example.com
Gemma joined Edstrom in October of 2011 as UK and Ireland Sales Consultant and is based just north of London, UK. Gemma earned a Masters degree in Human Genetics from the University of Nottingham and comes to us from GlaxoSmithKline UK, where she worked in Research/Development within the Platform Technology Services/Drug Discovery Team. Gemma is also widely known for skills in the martial arts. Contact Gemma at: firstname.lastname@example.org