Temperature control on critical reserch enviroments



Information provided by: Johnson Controls


Metasys® system helps ensure integrity of critical research environments

Located in Everett, Washington, SNBL USA is a preclinical contract research organization committed to freeing patients from suffering by supporting drug development and improving medical technologies through non-human primate and small animal research. In that commitment, SNBL selected Johnson Controls to install its Metasys® building management system to provide the reliable monitoring and control of temperature and humidity that is critical to its research.

SNBL conducts preclinical research for many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, supporting them in medical breakthroughs for new or improved treatments for a wide array of diseases and ailments. Research and testing of new drugs can take years, during which time test subjects must be kept safe, comfortable and in a stable environment. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires SNBL to maintain very close tolerances of temperature and humidity in each of its more than 400 habitats, and that they be checked twice a day.

Before Johnson Controls, SNBL had been using a control system that required many manual checks and equipment adjustments. In an effort to streamline processes and be more efficient with its resources, SNBL turned to Johnson Controls for a solution offering reliable, automatic controls to improve its overall business quality and output. Since 2006, Johnson Controls has been helping maintain the company’s critical environments through proactive service and maintenance on mechanical equipment such as rooftop units, boilers, fans and compressors, among others.

Meeting reliable monitoring and control needs with controls retrofit 

SNBL needed a building controls system that would constantly and consistently monitor and control their equipment, and enable them to report the exact conditions of monitored areas to the FDA at any time. Reliability and flexibility to expand the system or access it remotely were also essential in meeting their needs.

Johnson Controls proposed a total retrofit of the existing controls system, replacing it with a Metasys system to monitor and control temperature and humidity in the habitat areas and laboratories, as well as some office spaces. The system consists of multiple field controllers for all the equipment, which report back to the head-end where they can be monitored and controlled. In addition, Johnson Controls worked with the SNBL information technology department to utilize a cyber server on their equipment, which provides additional reliability by providing built-in redundancy.

To further ensure reliability, SNBL required a four-month validation period before the legacy system could be removed. The company’s quality assurance team conducted extensive confidence testing to ensure the Metasys system would operate as designed and meet the strict government requirements to which SNBL is held accountable. The new system could not be used in automatic mode until the team was completely satisfied with its findings and the performance of the system. At the end of the validation period, the system was found to operate as designed and provide reliability, and not a single modification was required.

Better control, better research environments

SNBL represents highly critical environments where the lives of test subjects and the quality of research are at stake. Better and more reliable control of these environments not only protects the test subjects and research, it allows SNBL to focus its efforts on that research.

The Metasys system enables facility operations to monitor and control, from one location, the equipment in more than 400 habitats, as well as laboratories and office spaces. Required readings can also be obtained the same way, avoiding the time-consuming process of taking individual readings. If an area should fall out of standards, the Metasys system alerts personnel so corrective action can be taken. Additionally, all operations data can be printed, reviewed and archived for future reporting needs that may arise.

Fully expandable, the Metasys system can accommodate other existing SNBL facilities and new ones. And, its open architecture means other building systems can be integrated. Consideration is already being given to integrating the lighting systems, which will bring energy efficiency and allow for programming the amount of lighting hours and automatically adjusting lighting levels in the animal habitats. Under a Planned Service Agreement, Johnson Controls maintains the Metasys system to optimize its performance and help ensure proper research conditions are maintained.