Case Study 1

Pharmaceutical Company Renovates Telecom Building & Experiences Major Problems with High-End Tele-Conferencing Equipment

A major pharmaceutical company purchased a large old telecommunications facility in the Northeast that was used to support telecommunications equipment. The existing building included its original electrical system and a raised flooring system to support, power and ground the telecom equipment. The renovation contractor, hired by the pharmaceutical company, removed both systems but discarded the electrical system components and disassembled the raised flooring system for reinstallation (to avoid purchasing a new one) as a part of the renovation project.

The pharmaceutical company needed 68 conference rooms spread over multiple offices and laboratories—all elected to be installed over a raised floor, so a new electrical system was needed. After the new system was installed, the existing raised flooring system was reinstalled. Afterwards, the new office, high-end teleconferencing system (costing $15k-20k per unit) & laboratory equipment was installed. After the customer occupied the renovated building, most of the teleconferencing units began to malfunction, experience damage, and fail. This caused significant problems for the pharmaceutical company when they tried to hold virtual meetings with their customers located in the US & Europe. The pharmaceutical company didn’t want to have the teleconferencing units repaired (or replaced) until the cause of the malfunctions & failures could be identified & resolved.

The pharmaceutical company searched for a power quality consultant to help them identify, resolve & prevent the problems from recurring. Engineers at PBE discussed the problems with the customer and devised a plan to identify, resolve and prevent them. Our engineers visited the facility to install power quality monitors at strategic locations and conducted a thorough grounding and bonding evaluation of the building’s electrical system (BES) including the reinstalled raised flooring system. The power interfaces from the raised floor to the top of the conference room tables to the teleconferencing units were included in the evaluation. Grounding & bonding problems were found across the BES, especially in the raised flooring system. Monitoring data revealed high-frequency electrical disturbances were occurring at the AC input of the teleconferencing units but not at the main circuit breaker of the switchgear systems.

A technical report was written describing the findings as well as the recommendations for resolving the grounding and bonding problems in the BES and in the raised flooring system. The report also provided recommendations to the customer for preventing these problems from getting reintroduced into the BES. The electrical contractors failed to reinstall the raised flooring system correctly, which introduced grounding and bonding problems into the floor’s grounding system. These problems caused normal everyday electrical disturbances generated by operation of the building’s HVAC system to be magnified and damaged the expensive teleconferencing system. Our engineers guided the pharmaceutical company and their contractor through the repair and upgrade processes, so the grounding and bonding system could do its job and control the ground voltage across the building, throughout the raised flooring system & ensured proper grounding for the teleconferencing units. This prevented the everyday disturbances from being magnified which prevented the teleconferencing system from being exposed to high-frequency ground voltages that would cause them to malfunction and fail. The customer was extremely pleased with PBE’s work.