Taking control: Scots service chief honoured at BCIA event

Tony with BCIA president Jon Belfield

SERVICE manager Tony McDermott recently flew the flag for Scotland at the prestigious BCIA (Building Controls Industry Association) Awards 2018 in Birmingham after being shortlisted in the Engineer of the Year category.

The award was open to individuals demonstrating engineering excellence in controls and BEMS (building energy management systems).

As service and maintenance manager at Laplace Building Solutions in Glasgow, Tony has been responsible for service delivery to a wide range of clients including universities and councils.

He manages a remote monitoring service desk for clients and is currently involved in a project for one company, which aims to reduce energy costs by implementing boiler dry cycling stategy as well as control using variable speed drives for pumps and fans.

One of the toughest projects Tony has tackled occurred at Glasgow Caledonian University when extraordinarily cold weather threatened to wreak havoc with student exams.

He told Project Scotland, “The university was moving its cafeteria and turning one side of the site into lecture theatres, etc, in their Heart of the Campus project. It was coming towards the end of the year when we had a really bad cold snap with temperatures dropping to as much as minus 12. Most air handling units in Britain aren’t really designed to cope with temperatures like that, as we so rarely get them.”

Software designed to protect the heater batteries in especially cold temperatures was causing the units to shut down. The air handling units, which were due to provide the primary source of heating for the lecture theatres where students were sitting exams, were stuck in frost mode due to the outside temperatures.

“There was no heat source to the lecture theatres,” Tony explained. “At that point there was a threat that exams might have to be cancelled and students sent home.

“We had to come up with a solution and mobilised the whole installation team.”

Tony identified the issue was being caused by the position of the frost stats. His solution was to put in place a fast changeover of 20 air handling unit frost stats in a day. Moving these from the outside of the units to the inside chamber resulted in successfully restoring heating to the university.

“That worked perfectly – thankfully,” Tony said.