Teesside firm Applied Integration has played a key behind-the-scenes role in the launch of the £700 million Francis Crick Institute, Europe’s largest centre for biomedical research.
The central London building will house up to 1,250 scientists investigating new ways to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, pandemics and neurodegenerative diseases.
Named after the British molecular biologist and neuroscientist who co-discovered the structure of DNA, ‘The Crick’ features eight floors of laboratory space over 79,000 square metres.
In a £500,000 deal, Applied Integration’s small but highly-skilled team of 30 engineers will be responsible for ensuring a building described as an altar to biomedical research operates to perfection.
Working in partnership with ABB, a global force in power and automation technology, the Stokesley firm designed and installed the power management systems for the Institute.
The complex hardware will monitor and control electricity throughout the epic building, ensuring the provision of automated changeover from mains to generator supplies in the event of a power cut.
The system features a large electrical management system monitoring more than 500 energy meters including electrical, gas, steam and water to allow the building’s control staff to monitor and report on the centre’s energy usage to ensure it remains within strict regulatory limits.
Applied Integration director Graham King said: “It’s been so complex compared to a normal build.
“It’s been extremely technical but we’re now close to completion and the experience and knowledge we’ve taken from this will come in very useful on future projects.”
The project has demanded significant engineering resource over the last two years, ensuring the automation, control and visualisation systems integrate correctly but a commissioning team of just four now remain on site carrying out final checks around a building so enormous that it has its own way-finding app to help people get around.
Now the Francis Crick Institute is set to welcome researchers from six of the UK’s most influential scientific and academic bodies – the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust, and London’s University College, Imperial College and King’s College.
Graham added: “Our work is to ensure the research facility experiences minimal disruption to its core service in the event of a power cut. It’s been a challenge and an incredible amount of work to get all those units scattered around an eight-storey building to communicate to one another.
“It’s been a huge project for us, with perhaps the greatest challenge being the sheer scale of the building and the long distances between different areas of the building.”
The Crick contract came as a result not only of Applied Integration’s ever-growing reputation as one of the UK’s leading experts in automated control systems but also through its long-term partnership with ABB which it hopes will lead to similar work in the near future.
“Talks are now underway for five similar research facilities,” added Graham. “Thanks to our relationship with ABB, we’re in a strong position to win that work too.
“Our experience and knowledge gained in working at the Crick Centre will certainly hold us in good stead to design the systems behind any similar work.”