Containerized fire-safety systems offer a safe, reliable and cost-effective solution, designed to perform when you need it most.
Just like any other ecosystem, the buildings we occupy are carefully constructed from many components, all of which must work cohesively to deliver safety, comfort and value for occupants. The construction industry therefore shoulders the immense responsibility of ensuring the success of the ecosystems they create.
When it comes to the safety of occupants, fire safety is a fundamental element in building design and management. But while building developers are well versed in the importance of reliable, high-performing fire-safety systems in terms of occupant health and wellbeing, they may not realize the additional economic benefits of selecting the right system for their project.
Over the years, fire-safety systems have continued to evolve and improve through enhanced technology and meticulous engineering. One of the more recent developments that has changed the game completely is the introduction of containerized fire solutions. With this option, building developers now have a profound opportunity to improve safety and reduce costs with just one decision.
Before discussing the ins and outs of how containerized solutions can transform a building’s fire safety system, first let’s discuss exactly how they work.
Essentially, a containerized fire solution is a complete fire-pump package, pre-assembled in a factory. Each system is built into a standard shipping container as a single finished unit, ready for installation upon arrival. All that is required on site is for the pump house to simply be moved into position and connected to the rest of the sprinkler system. In fact, installation can be so simple as to only involve two pipes and two power connections. These ‘plug and play’ packages protect lives and property against fire by supplying an adequate water supply to automatic sprinklers and standpipe systems.
Containerized fire-pump systems also offer a high degree of customization to align with the needs of the specific building, creating tailored opportunities for improved tenant safety, as well as system optimization. Customization of elements within the pump systems allows for greater flexibility in terms of components, materials and systems used.
Traditional ‘stick-built’ fire-pump systems are typically composed of several different elements, all of which require sourcing from various suppliers and assembling on site. For installing contractors, purchasing, handling and coordinating all required materials to build a complete fire-pump system on-site is inefficient, with its own set of challenges; often pieces get lost or go missing, leading to construction delays. It must also be guaranteed that the specified components work both individually and holistically. This is by no means an easy task – one which designers and architects are often ill-equipped to handle, lacking the technical knowledge that helps to determine the best solution for the project. The expertise of mechanical engineering consultants is therefore often called in, working in collaboration with specialist sprinkler contractors to meet the required standard for safety, sustainability, performance and quality. These specialists are tasked with ensuring all loose components required are sized correctly and that all equipment supplied meets their specification.
Clearly, there are a lot of elements in play when it comes to creating traditional sprinkler systems. It’s also crucial for highly skilled labour to be used to install the traditional fire systems on site, ensuring proper assembly. This, however, is often overlooked in the Middle East region due to cost-saving efforts and a shortage of skilled labour.
In my experience with Armstrong Fluid Technology, containerized pre-assembled systems offer the perfect solution, addressing key challenges through the aforementioned ‘plug and play’ strategy. This bespoke alternative uses detailed drawings that show the exact dimensions and connection locations, so that the entire packaged unit arrives on site on time, and in one piece. It can take weeks to put together the 90 loose components, requiring at least three certified tradespeople with specialist tools, access to secure floor space, electricity and lighting. With this in mind, it becomes clear how eliminating the need for on-site assembly can reduce installation time by up to 95%, generating profound savings in terms of labour costs. The labour force can instead use this time more efficiently to complete value-added parts of their contract, potentially resulting in the completion of more projects within the same amount of time.
When it comes to something as crucial as fire safety, quality and performance are of course two major areas of priority. Stick-built systems constructed on site are not built to a predetermined design, meaning that consistency cannot be guaranteed in the configuration of one installation to the next. A factory-built, containerized system on the other hand, eliminates any uncertainty around system performance through a significantly lower margin of error and as a result of rigorous testing prior to delivery.
In regard to logistics, modular, pre-assembled solutions enable rapid, low-risk deployment as they are shipped in standard size containers – ideal for international delivery. Consequently, they can be easily removed and shipped to a new location, providing flexibility to account for future requirements. Only requiring the piping and power supply to be connected makes for fast installation and a perfect retrofit solution.
The advantages discussed thus far are all centred around cutting costs in a safe way, without compromising on quality. This helps to maintain the same level of occupant safety, while improving the return on investment for building owners.
In fact, containerized fire-pump systems do more than simply retain levels of quality, they even go as far as improving performance and durability in comparison with alternative systems. Armstrong Fluid Technology uses smart software to enhance the operation of its products and allow for predictive maintenance to ensure performance levels remain high. Our packaged systems offer peace of mind for building owners and occupants by adhering to relevant industry standards. The latest 3D modelling tools are used to ensure design integrity prior to construction – enhancing efficiency. What’s more, our Design Envelope pump units are establishing a new era of performance management technology, providing real-time diagnostics on the system’s condition to alert when maintenance or service is required. The smart technology incorporated into the product also offers a level of transparency not seen before, through flow data, diagnostics and suction pressure analysis, among other things which can be beneficial for both owners and contractors.
Maintenance of fire equipment is just as essential as choosing the right systems to begin with. All fire equipment requires scheduled maintenance and inspection to reaffirm that it remains in fully working condition. Without this regular maintenance, failures or malfunctions may only become apparent once the systems are put to the test in an emergency situation – by which point it is too late. Active performance management software makes monitoring and updating the system much easier, being able to control this from a remote location. Where manual testing, maintenance and service is required, technicians can benefit from easy access through a service door. What’s more, the fans and ventilation system fitted within the container even make for a comfortable working environment.
Ease of access is essential as a method of encouraging regular servicing and performance checks, ensuring the safety and well-being of the building’s occupants. On the off-chance that issues do arise, containerized solutions offer the added advantage of all system components having been manufactured and assembled by the one company. This gives building operators a single point of contact in order to solve such problems following installation.
Having now considered the value brought about by pre-engineered packaged solutions, it becomes apparent that containerized fire-pump systems are well-positioned to transform the fire-protection industry in the Middle East and Africa. They offer an all-in-one solution that can enable cost savings, without compromising on quality or putting the safety of building occupants at risk.
For more information, go to www.armstrongfluidtechnology.com