Protecting automated controls to enhance fire safety
The Engineering Network Ltd
Posted to News on 21st Feb 2024, 15:00

Protecting automated controls to enhance fire safety

Sprinklers are an essential component of a buildings fire protection system. Automation can enhance safety, as well as ease of use, but this means that the control system requires its own protection. Grifen Sprinkler Solutions requested Spelsberg UK to provide high durability enclosures that could withstand the demanding environment.

Protecting automated controls to enhance fire safety

The service required digital printing as well as CNC machining, but it was essential for this customisation to maintain the integrity of the enclosure.

To protect from the threat of fire, sprinkler system design and manufacture is governed by strict standards. Though these regulations are highly robust, some sprinkler system manufacturers say that standards can be extended further.

Key aspects of protecting a sprinkler systems backup and maintenance, for example, are not completely included in the regulations, but ensuring the long-term electrical reliability of the system is important to optimise safety, says Gary Noble, managing director of Grifen Sprinkler Solutions.

In the event of a water leak in the sprinkler systems supply, the resulting pressure drop would typically cause the pumps motor to temporarily kick in, as if it were reacting to the activation of the sprinklers. These motor re-starts would happen continuously, drawing repeated high current and damaging the motors windings. Instead, Grifens Asset Protect functionality upholds long-term reliability by putting the system into safe mode and generating an alert, enabling rapid maintenance.

Optimising protection

Features like Asset Protect are the result of Grifens holistic focus on fire safety. The company supplies sprinkler system contractors in the UK and Ireland, with systems designed for domestic, industrial, and commercial buildings. This ranges from Category 1 residential dwellings through to Category 4 tower blocks above 18m, including the highest EN 12845 standard.

Even Grifens sprinkler systems for individual residences are electronically controlled by an industrial PLC, with logic control and software functions authored in-house. At the other end of the scale, Grifens fire sprinkler systems for Category 4 commercial properties include remotely controlled testing on a weekly basis. This optimises safety by providing more regular tests than the regulations require and reduces the resources necessary for on-site inspection.

Automation enhances safety

The systems electronics need a high level of protection. In the event of a fire, the enclosure must be able to withstand the initial heat. Then, the unit has to prevent water ingress when the sprinkler system is activated. The enclosures also have to be sufficiently durable to protect the electronic controls from any impact.

Grifen uses Spelsbergs high-durability industrial enclosures, manufactured from polycarbonate. These boxes protect in temperatures up to 80C, sufficient to match the rating of the electronics, and they endure until the sprinklers activate to quell the heat. The enclosures can also withstand water jets and provide a high IK09 impact resistance rating.

To accommodate the automated systems multiple cable connections, as well as the control units digital display, every enclosure requires a CNC machining process. The digital display window, as well as the cable entry points, must be cut in specified locations and to exacting dimensions. Crucially, when the display and the cables are installed, the surrounding gap must be sealed to uphold the level of ingress protection.

High durability enclosures

Spelsberg provides all CNC work on-site at its Midlands facility, and although Grifen supplies its own drawings, Spelsbergs technicians can also create CAD designs. Providing a test prototype in days, Spelsberg then despatched the full quantity of Grifens order in less than three weeks. As a result of the enclosures precision CNC machining, combined with specially designed cable glands, when Grifen installed the control unit, this upheld the high IP rating.

Spelsbergs machining ensures repeatability, says Gary. Its also a fast turnaround, so its become a key service for us.

Although Grifens control unit is designed to be accessed remotely, or via the digital display, the device is still required to present a variety of user and safety information. Spelsberg provides Grifen with digital printing directly onto the enclosure, providing a highly durable, long-lasting finish. Combined with Grifens graphic design, Spelsbergs printing service also ensures a professional presentation.

Time-saving service

Previously, we used stick-on labels. Printing directly onto the box is much more hardwearing, and it saves us significant time resource compared to manual application. It also ensures a high-quality finish, says Gary.

While the capability of Grifens systems lay within its software functions, supported by the quality of flow control hardware, the protection of the automated system is fundamental.

Were committed to Spelsberg for our enclosures, says Gary. Weve put our faith in this process, and the quality of the service means theres no going back.

Spelsberg UK

Unit 1B Queensway Business Pk
Hadley Park West

01952 605849

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