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The importance of monitoring MR chillers in unprecedented times

por John W. Mitchell, Senior Correspondent | September 13, 2021
From the September 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Regularly scheduled care and preventive maintenance on cooling equipment is the first defense for avoiding downtimes and expensive repairs.

Tim Confer, president of Northern Air Systems, recalls a shut-down incident in the past year caused by a build-up of cottonwood spores in the coils. The cooling drain pan and the condenser shut down, and condensate leaked, as the spores also blocked the unit drain.

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Remote monitoring is one key to ensuring these types of scenarios don’t arise, according to Confer, and to that end it is also essential that sites have adequate network connection and speed to support that monitoring, especially with the transition to the 5G network. The other vital component is preventive maintenance.

“It’s critical to schedule and perform quarterly preventive maintenance (PM), it will save you one day,” said Confer. “Also proactively identify parts during these PMs that are at the end of life so that the technician can replace old components as needed.”

Another vital consideration is putting a backup cooling plan in place for the cryogen compressor, according to Turner Hansel, president of Filtrine Manufacturing This would include facility or municipality water redundancy that can activate in an emergency to prevent an MR quench (catastrophic loss of helium). However, added Hansel, there have been recent advancements with some MR units that are now engineered with helium recovery units. But ultimately, an MR cannot operate correctly without a functioning chiller; it is an integral part of this system as volumes recovered from the initial stages of the pandemic.

“More clinicians are looking for maximum uptime from their MR equipment,” said Hansel. “This has led to more interest in monitoring support systems, like chillers, to cool the imaging equipment. Also, better software systems have been developed to provide easy oversight of the entire imaging and diagnostic system.”

Hansel and the other experts quoted in this article point to high standards for engineering already in place to meet the growing trend of higher summer temperatures. Hansel cited the need for cooling protection from other environmental challenges, such as marine protection and air-borne abrasives such as blown-in dirt.

Oliver, with Advanced Air, described other vital steps that medical imaging sites can take to protect their systems in extreme heat. These include:

• Follow manufacturers clearance requirements around a chiller at the time of installation.

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