Posted: 16 September 2022
Steve Elliott is the School of Science Technical Facilities Manager, responsible for facilities within the Physics and Chemistry departments at Loughborough University. Within this remit he manages the technical team and is the central contact for new build and refurb lab-based facilities projects, liaising with suppliers, contractors and the University. Steve joined Loughborough University in 2015 with vast experience from twenty five years at The Nottingham Trent University, where he also had experience of ATC chillers.
Loughborough University has been named the best in the country for its student experience, the UK’s leading publication on higher education, the Times Higher Education announced earlier this year. They are in the top ten of every national league table, consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and are in the top ten in England for research intensity.
The University aims to further develop an international reputation for excellence, research and student experience. They recruit high calibre students and academics through leading technology, exceptional facilities and funding for prominent research. Offering a world class student experience and high quality, comprehensive educational experience. The aims of the School echo that of the University and aspire to bring the laboratories closer together to facilitate further interdisciplinary work and research.
Supporting these aims the £17M STEMLab was developed (with a £1M spend just on Science equipment) to provide state of the art STEM facilities. The Loughborough University West Park Redevelopment Project included refurbishment of the Sir David Davies Building which was originally developed in the 1960’s. During the project the whole building was gutted, there was a change of internal layout, new services were installed, and new windows fitted. Along with a first and second fix.
The whole of Chemistry and Physics space within the School of Science has been refurbished over a two year period and completion is aiming for Easter 2019. The refurbishment has bought better cohesion between departments as they are physically located closer alongside aligned disciplines.
Planning the building refurbishment involved rehoming departments, moving research and academics to a temporary home to facilitate a clear space to refurbish, moving departments back to their new space and on to the next stage of the refurbishment. Chemistry and Physics teaching moved into STEM, benefitting from all new equipment which has produced new ideas and ways of working. Practically Chemistry is now housed entirely on one floor, making it much easier to coordinate than previously where it had been split across five.
Challenges faced by the School during the project included keeping staff happy whilst improvements were made amid disruptions, moves and sharing work space. Completion of the project needed to be within the quoted timescale to minimise disruptions and suppliers were required to adhere to this.
ATC worked with the University and alongside M&E contractor William Bailey to commission five K3 chillers, which are housed outdoors on the roof. The technician originally thought they would have to be on the same level due to the pressure in the application, but after consultation and liaison with Hilton Brooks they are now all housed on the roof above the XRD machines in the Chemistry laboratory.
The chiller purchase was part of the infrastructure of the project and handled by the projects team (part of Facilities Management). An alternative chiller supplier was considered due to the fact they already had some of their chillers in one of the labs. But the final decision to purchase the ATC K3 chillers was based on specification and reliability. The School had an additional requirement to reconfigure the chillers as they were housed outside and there was a need to produce covers and shelter for the chillers.
The School value the reliability of the ATC chillers. This is supported by an existing ATC chiller which is attached to a physical vapour deposition (PVD) unit within a University Physics laboratory, which is in constant use and still performing efficiently after over nine years of service.
Steve said of his experience of ATC “I found Applied Thermal Control easy to deal with, communication with all staff members was good. ATC were happy to visit site and measure up, going the extra mile to provide a suitable solution, and the service department worked within the stipulations of the facilities team. To me a chiller is simply another piece of equipment, I need to keep researchers happy by providing quality equipment which is reliable and feel confident that support is easily obtained if anything does go wrong.”
Feedback from students and staff to improve facilities and ways of working has been encouraged. Interdisciplinary cooperation was paramount, and the consensus is that the improvements have been worth the temporary disruption.
To find out more about the Science School at Loughborough University visit their website or find out more about ATC chillers here.
Contact ATC on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01530 839 998