Danfoss and Digicon act swiftly to make a mini field hospital operational during COVID-19

Delivery time of six days cut down to one for critical installation in hospital in the UK, thanks to the collaboration of technical experts and a truly dedicated supply chain.

Danfoss Drives and Digicon Solutions, an approved Danfoss Distributor, stepped up to the challenge to fight the global pandemic when urgent assistance was sought after by the healthcare sector. The Danfoss Drives team in the UK was asked to provide HVAC drives for temporary COVID-19 National Health Service (NHS) hospitals which needed to be fully operational by April 2020.

HVAC Drive Family

“From our factory in Gråsten, we were originally quoted a 6-day delivery for the particular drives but when we explained they were to help directly in our fight with COVID-19 our colleagues in Gråsten managed to confirm and provide a next day delivery. This has been fantastic, and we are all very grateful,” says Alan Baird (Country Manager for UK and Ireland, Danfoss Drives).

The drives, type FC102 in IP66 form, were ordered for a prototype system to provide Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC) for a new type of mini ‘field hospital’ in rural areas of the UK. Helping people to remain local instead of moving them to cities for treatment provides many benefits for the patients, their families and the NHS. The quick response from Danfoss and Digicon has allowed the prototype phase to be accelerated.

This enclosure type is ideal for outdoor mounting, which gives ease of installation and space saving inside the building. High IP ratings such as IP55, 66 and 67 are standard for Danfoss and are typically stock items within the Danfoss nationwide distribution network. However, in this case the specific rating and quantity were not immediately available. Hence the request to have these built as an express order by the factory which our team duly delivered on, due to the extra importance of the customer and those who would benefit from the comfort and cooling these would provide.

The Managing Director of Digicon, Karl Jones, is working with various NHS trusts to understand their short-term requirements and coordinate with Danfoss supply chain to minimize the express orders unless critical measures demand otherwise. “We would like to pass on our sincere thanks to the team in Gråsten for supplying the Danfoss Drives so quickly for our National Health Service hospitals. We can’t say enough about the fantastic support from all involved,” says Karl Jones.

This great example of teamwork, resulting in such a quick response in times of crisis, demonstrates the coordination and partnership that exists between Danfoss and its supply chain.  There are 50+ engineers in the Danfoss Distributor network, all of whom are available and prepared to do their upmost to assist any hospitals or heath care facilities in situations where it’s crucial for them to get their existing drives working again or replaced if failures occur.

This recent example is not the first time that Digicon has gone above and beyond to help their customers. Digicon has vast experience in providing Variable Speed Drive solutions, services and support in the healthcare segment. Their numerous projects and drives upgrade work/supply in the hospital market sector include Birmingham Children’s Hospital, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, Stafford Hospital and Kettering General Hospital. Digicon pride themselves on their ability to step in at short-notice and out-of-hours; to ensure the operating continuity of critical plants, such as hospitals.

In the Warwick Hospital application, Digicon installed and commissioned Variable Speed Drives to AHU fans and heating pumps. The drives were integrated into the existing building management system to provide significant energy and operational cost savings. Siobhan Hill, Energy Manager for South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust said, “This scheme is one of several measures we are implementing at our facilities to reduce energy consumption, reduce bills and to help combat climate change, As a specialist in this field and due to their sole focus and support geared toward Variable Speed Drives, Digicon were the obvious choice. The speed response to our enquiry and professionalism with which the whole process was undertaken from start to finish was excellent.” Siobhan added, “The initial report was extremely concise and very helpful in securing funding for this project. We were equally pleased with the time scaling of the installation to ensure no disruption to the hospital. One major factor that also had to be considered was response times and support in the event of any problems. Digicon proved to be excellent following a minor problem as we had a Digicon engineer on site within 3 hours following my initial phone call. They also have technical support available if needed. I would have absolutely no problem recommending Digicon to anyone in the future.”

Perfect air quality is vital in healthcare facilities; not too humid, dry, cold or hot. Pressure must be maintained higher in some areas, yet doors must open easily. Laboratories and surgery rooms should be sterile and contagious patients hygienically isolated. Environmental conditions vary on a constant basis and as hospitals operate 24/7, it is imperative that stable conditions are always maintained. The key objective is to meet patient care goals with optimum operational efficiency and systems performance. This includes upholding stringent environmental standards and indoor comfort conditions throughout the hospital; from surgery theatres, to intensive care units and baby care units to emergency care, general wards and ancillary areas.

Why is the role of inverter drives crucial in an efficient hospital? The various fans, pumps, cooling towers and humidification systems of today’s hospitals comprise some 40% of that building’s energy costs. Further expenses may derive from cleanroom functions and environmental regulations. Energy savings are mainly achieved through electronic motor control. The use of Variable Speed Drives to ensure demand-matched ventilation can reduce energy costs by 10 to 25 %.

While the modern BMS has made an enormous contribution to overall control of the system and fieldbus networks have simplified connectivity throughout the building, the greatest contribution to energy efficiency has come from variable speed control of the fan and pump motors themselves. Rapid advances in VSDs over the last 20 years have revolutionised the technology for HVAC applications to the point where it is rare for a major new hospital to not have full VSD control of the HVAC system linked to the BMS.This ensures close control over environmental conditions and, particularly important in hospitals, control of flow between the wards to prevent the potential spread of infection.

Facilities Management within a hospital know only too well that keeping patients, staff and visitors comfortable requires high levels of M&E and HVAC services. Through energy efficiency and conservation measures; you can dramatically reduce energy use and utility bills, reduce CO2 emissions, improve the internal environment for all parties involved and increase your operating profitability. Hospitals have a wide range of energy uses which in turn leads to significant energy and cost savings possibilities.The installation of variable speed drives is the most effective way to turn these objectives into reality.

In 1968, Danfoss became the first company in the world to mass produce electronic variable frequency motor controls, making it possible to disconnect the motor speed from the mains frequency and vary the speed of the motor. Later technology made it possible to regulate the torque as well. Danfoss has the dedicated and reliable products and people to manufacture, sell, service and develop solutions for heating, ventilation and air conditioning in buildings.

The various applications incorporated within hospital buildings are well understood by Danfoss, and as a global market leader within the HVAC industry, we have built a wealth of knowledge and developed products and technology to ensure we meet and determine future trends in this industry. Digicon has built up a team of technical specialists, who together have over 100 years of experience in the industry; from installation engineers to technical, sales and support staff. Danfoss Drives and Digicon have proven experience in the hospital sector, where it is critical that these demands are met. The reasons are obvious, but it takes experts to arrange it in a cost and energy effective way. The Danfoss VLT ® HVAC Drive is the optimal choice for any application.

The case for intelligent inverter speed control of fans and pumps in hospitals is well made and more than adequately demonstrated. The initial capital cost is so quickly offset by the returns that it is without doubt the most effective use of a company’s capital resources.Their installation brings previously undreamed-of efficiencies; substantial cost savings, enhanced levels of comfort all year round and a vital reduction in carbon emissions. What’s not to like?

Typical HVAC System


Room pressure control – drive speed increases or decreases to maintain differential pressure constant and compensates for the opening of doors

As the world steps up to the challenge of controlling the coronavirus pandemic, Danfoss Drives and Digicon are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their staff and their customers. Contingency plans are constantly monitored to minimise potential impact in our supply chain and delivery to customers. These are undoubtedly unprecedented times, but, together, we will get through this period of adversity. We will focus on staying safe and remain committed to keeping production going to continue to serve and support our customers.