Fast track to flexibility

Bowesfield in Stockton-on Tees is one of the locations where the North East of England’s commercial regeneration has been most impressive. Having successfully completed two office developments there – both pre-sold in October 2006 – Rokeby Developments (Northern Ltd) acquired a further ten acre site on the 17 hectare development for three more office buildings. Two of the three buildings were pre-let; a 51,860 ft² headquarters building for engineering and construction group, Kvaerner, and a 15,339ft² office building for beer pump metering specialist, Brulines.  The third building, a 20,000ft² scheme divided into two units of 10,000ft², started on site as a speculative build.

With tenants waiting to move in to two of the new buildings and the need to market the third as quickly as possible, speed was of the essence.  The first challenge for contractors was to complete the tendering process quickly to help Rokeby’s build schedule stay on track. To accommodate the design & build nature of the scheme, M&E contractor, NG Bailey, based its original tender on a modular wiring system, normal practice for this contractor on design and build tenders. Then, when a more detailed specification for the building was clear, the NG Bailey team was able to reflect on the most cost-effective option.

 

Garry Jordan from NG Bailey says: “We’d used Electrak products before and it was clear that the combined power and bus distribution or ‘buscom’ system, Lightrak lighting control system and power track underfloor system would prove both more cost effective and much quicker to install. 

 

“The installation project had to be completed within a very challenging timeframe and we estimated that this combination would save two thirds of the man hours usually required by an installation of this size and complexity.  By cutting site time down to just 1,000 man hours we were also able to reduce costs, without compromising quality.” 

 

Having decided to use Electrak products, NG Bailey contacted Electrak with a brief and the company put together an initial design. Stuart Black, the project’s sales engineer at Electrak says:  “Our design drawings were passed to NG Bailey’s designers for review and approval and, once we had received their input, we completed detailed installation plans, incorporating numbered lighting control units to ensure that the installation teams had a simple-to-use, plug-and-play guide to putting everything in place on site, helping them save valuable time.”

 

A basic plan

 

The design for each building followed the same basic plan, with Electrak’s power track underfloor busbar installed throughout, feeding raised access floor boxes with sockets for power and data cabling.  Each building had the innovative ‘buscom’ trunking installed in the ceiling voids, combining both power distribution and signal bus distribution in a single trunking.  This was used for additional small power distribution and to feed the Lightrak lighting control units installed throughout each building.

 

The whole design was put together with future flexibility in mind. To this end, a raised access computer floor was installed on every level of each building and all floor boxes were installed on a 5m flexible lead, allowing occupiers to reconfigure the office layout quickly and with minimum disruption by simply moving the floorboxes to wherever they are required.  In total, 834m of Electrak underfloor trunking was installed across the three buildings, with a total of 612 floorboxes.

 

Flexibility was further enhanced by the buscom trunking, which features an integral shielded twisted pair communications control circuit, designed with ease of installation and versatility in mind. Pre-wired trunking lengths simply fit into each other and snap lock into place and loads can then either be suspended directly from the trunking or be surface mounted.

 

Trunking lengths are simply installed, linked up to the power supply and connected to the signal bus.  All connections are then tool free, with plug-in outlets at regular intervals for small power needs and clip on lighting control units and modular plug-in connections for switches and sensors.

 

In all, 906m of 40A dual circuit buscom was used across the three buildings, feeding a total of 165 fully addressable Lightrak lighting control units, 249 presence detectors and 18 scene setting controls.  Again, the lighting system was designed to offer maximum flexibility and energy efficiency for the end user, whilst ensuring a fast and simple to install solution to help NG Bailey complete installation with minimum manpower resources in a very short period of time.

 

Plug and play

 

Using the European standard KNX protocol, the world’s first open standard for building control, the Lightrak lighting control systems works on the same plug and play principles as the rest of the Electrak range. The fully addressable lighting control modules are factory configured and units simply snap lock onto the buscom trunking with tap off plugging into the nearest outlet. 

 

Stuart Black continues: “Lightrak is not only quick and easy to install but also reduces onsite commissioning time considerably. Once the buscom trunking was in place, installation of the lighting control system was a simple matter of matching up the numbers on the factory programmed units with those on the plan to create a fully operational lighting system.”

 

The flexibility of the Lightrak system means that the lighting control system can be designed to suit the needs of the building and its occupier whilst maximising energy savings.  And, if the occupier’s needs change or a new tenant moves in, changing the settings or adding new elements is both quick and simple.

 

Presence detection

 

For the Bowesfield scheme, presence detectors throughout each building were combined with timed settings and daylight saving settings to ensure that electric lighting is always available when required but never wasted.  For example, daylight sensors are used for the row of lights closest to the window on all sides of each building to ensure that these are not switched on unnecessarily when there is sufficient daylight. 

 

A scene setting dimming facility was installed for meeting rooms in each of the three buildings using a modular plug-in lead that clips onto the buscom.  This plug and play solution means that if occupiers should need to move meeting rooms the scene setting system can be moved relatively easily.  Indeed, a future occupier may decide that its lighting requirements are completely different to those currently in place and they will be able to change whatever they need without any re-wiring or major disruption. 

 

Stuart Black explains: “Simply by plugging in a laptop anywhere on the system, we, or any trained KNX integrator, can reconfigure the lighting control settings or add in other elements such as absence detectors, multi-gang switching or timed event controllers.”

 

What’s more, because KNX products are currently manufactured by more than 110 leading manufacturers, all kinds of additional building control products can be added to the network at a later date as and when occupiers’ needs change.

 

“From initial design to a fully commissioned system only took four and a half months,” Garry Jordan concludes. “Labour hours were reduced from 3,000 to only 1,000 and we were able to use semi-skilled workers to do many of the installation tasks. This in itself allowed us to use our limited ‘skilled labour’ workforce to do more of the technically demanding jobs on site. The overall result is a fully flexible, economic and user friendly system”. 

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