Remote Support Package

Did you know Drax technology has recently introduced a remote support package for its powerful AMX alarm management system?

Do you have a problem supporting Drax Technology’s AMX alarm management system when key staff are busy or on holiday? Are you contractually bound to a SLA or do your customers demand a resolution immediately? Drax Technology has a solution for their accredited partners that may help and now offer remote technical support for installed AMX alarm management systems.

Remote technical support is offered to accredited partners and can be enabled by paying an annual support package fee. In return and at your request, we can take control of the installed AMX PC or PCs remotely to assist the engineer on site resolve any issues.

Subscribing to the support package will also entitle your engineer to priority telephone support. If we are unable to resolve the issue using the remote support facility and a visit to site is the only option left open to us, you will not be charged for our engineer’s time when he makes the initial trip to site. (Excluding any expenses e.g. flights, hotels etc.).

Many of the issues reported by customers can be resolved quickly and efficiently using the remote support package without the need for a Drax Technology engineer ever to visit site. This reduces the expense to you, our Partner. Additionally, using the remote access facility should speed up the time taken to resolve the problem, leaving you with a satisfied customer. To enable Drax Technology to provide this facility we will of course require a connection to the internet.

So for peace of mind when you have staff on holiday or off sick or you just want that additional reassurance that the manufacturer, Drax Technology is there to help. Please give us a call for more information. If you would like to subscribe to our newsletter “Get Connected” to keep up with our latest developments please click here.

Spread the love ... not smoke!

There are many organisations in the UK that have installed Drax Technology’s AMX alarm management system to monitor smoke and heat sensors from different fire alarm systems situated across their site. The AMX software is employed to manage alarms from disparate systems and assist with regulatory compliance. However, one hospital’s main requirement was AMX’s capability to monitor the hospital’s fire doors and fire/smoke dampers.

Buildings with a sleeping risk are designed to have fire doors in corridors to prevent smoke moving from one compartment to the next and provide occupants in areas adjacent to the fire with sufficient time to evacuate the premises by an alternative route.

Another, often ignored item of equipment are fire/smoke dampers. These are positioned in heating and ventilation ducts where the duct passes through a wall from one fire compartment to another. Often fire/smoke dampers are installed in the ceiling void above the fire door mentioned previously. Both are there to close and ensure the integrity of the fire compartment is maintained in the event of a fire. Primarily to stop the spread of smoke.

This all sounds fine and in most application’s works well. Even if doors are held open with magnetic door retainers during working hours, to allow free passage of staff and patients through corridors, the activation of a smoke sensor will signal the door retaining device to release and the self-closing mechanism to close the door. That’s the theory. However, in a very large building ensuring the various systems work faultlessly all the time and that people do not restrict the automatic closing of the doors becomes an area for concern.

As for fire/smoke dampers, who has ever seen one?

In a modern building with heating and ventilation ducts there will be dozens (similar, to one pictured), may be even hundreds, but they are generally out of sight. So, would know whether they are open or closed? Some have switches that operate to facilitate indication of their open or closed status, the majority either don’t use the facility or simply don’t have a switch. In the UK most installed fire/smoke dampers are simply equipped with fusible links designed to fail when the temperature rises allowing the damper to spring closed. Did you also know, that these dampers must be tested a minimum of every 12 months?

Drax Technology developed a dedicated Actionair network manager (NWM) to interface with the sophisticated Actionair damper control system on the hospital site mentioned above. Using Drax Technology’s powerful AMX alarm monitoring software to display the status of the fire/smoke dampers along with that of the fire doors and instigate alarms when either were not closed and should have been.

If your building doesn’t have its own damper control monitoring system, what do you do? Well Drax Technology can still help. If the damper is equipped with a switch, then there are a range of options to monitor the status of the damper using either wired or wireless interfaces. If there is no switch, then monitoring the status of the damper is impossible. However, using the graphical maps created as part of the AMX alarm management system, used to show the location of smoke, heat sensors, break glass call points and fire doors. The location of the dampers can be easily added and an asset register created to assist with identification as well as the ongoing maintenance and compliance requirements. Not perfect but a good deal better than not knowing where they are installed and when they were last tested.

As well as the obvious and important safety advantages of such a system, security staff productivity and efficiency benefits can also be gained by using Drax Technology’s AMX alarm management system. Clearly the above would work as well in other buildings that have a sleeping risk. Hotels, student accommodation, residential or nursing homes would all benefit from knowing that the doors and fire/smoke dampers that should be closed are closed and being properly maintained.

Please contact keith.minster@draxtechnology to discuss the life safety requirements for your business in more detail. 

The Internet of Things

The “Internet of Things”

​Internet connected devices have arrived in abundance from smart TVs, smart phones and even smart central heating. And there are more on the way. By some estimates, there could be 50 billion Internet-connected devices by 2020, a market estimated to be worth in excess of $1 trillion annually within the next few years!

However, according to a recent survey carried out by the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) just 20% of the UK’s commercial buildings are considered to be “smart” at present and when you drill down in to the detail that may actually mean there is very little connected technology. To date, the emphasis has been on connecting heating and energy systems in order to save money but now there is a shift in attitude towards safety and security.

The internet is used daily by almost everyone these days and has become a “can’t do without” tool. So why are organisations so reluctant to connect the services within their buildings? A lack of understanding may have something to do with it. There are also concerns raised by building owners regarding the cost of installation, a lack of clear advice/knowledge and cyber security.

The ECA survey suggests that 40% of clients have no idea what the term “Internet of Things” means! Building owners shouldn’t be afraid to use technology. Technology, that will almost certainly save them money and in the case of fire detection and alarm systems even help them avoid prosecution.

Drax Technology’s SMaRT Watch and new Smart Web interfaces are designed to bridge that gap between the fire detection system and the outside world without compromising the building or the system’s integrity. Designed to work with all the major fire alarm control panel manufacturers control panels, Drax Technology’s SMaRT interfaces connect, seamlessly collecting data and passing it on, over the internet to a database. A database designed for processing, storing and analysing really useful data from the many fire alarm systems being monitored. Data that used intelligently can not only help delight customers but save time, money as well as improve efficiency and productivity.

If you are a facilities management company, a retailer or manage a portfolio of buildings dotted about the town, city or country, think how useful it would be to know just how safe your building really is when you are miles away and whether your fire alarm maintenance contractor is meeting their obligations. For more information, why not give us a call 0345 4592300

Reduce False Alarms, Save Money and Rebel...

Want to be a rebel?
The fire alarm industry is an extremely conservative industry surrounded by powerful legislation, European standards, British recommendations and great products. All of this makes for a good safe environment for employees and the general public but does it offer the best value for money for the businesses and organisations that have to provide and maintain such systems in their buildings?

In our view the answer is no. For a start the cost to maintain a fire detection and alarm system in a large NHS hospital is expensive, time consuming and disruptive. We’ve been hearing for the past couple of months just how stretched and under resourced the NHS and in particular our hospitals are. So why don’t we change the way we maintain systems to help make our hospitals, or any other large organisation for that matter, more efficient.

As far as Drax Technology is concerned we have had the technology to help achieve this for years but it will take a brave man or woman (the responsible person) to stick their head on the block and instigate the changes. However, they don’t have to do this on their own. With agreement from all “Interested Parties” e.g. Fire and Rescue Service, Responsible Person, building owners, insurers, manufacturers, things could legitimately change for the better, benefiting organisations like the NHS without compromising safety.

Drax Technology’s AMX alarm management software has been collecting valuable data from thousands of fire detection and alarm systems for over 25 years but does anybody use that data to their benefit. Unfortunately, in our experience very, very, few. What a waste!

So what does Drax Technology recommend. Well firstly, ensuring our AMX software is on site to collect the valuable data available from the many different fire detection and alarm systems that are out there.  Connecting to the myriad of different systems that exist is the easy bit, we’ve been doing it for years. Making the most of the data collected and implementing change is more difficult, but we’re here to help.

Analysing the data collected from an existing system is the first step and provides a benchmark for the future. The success or not of any subsequent changes made to system design, equipment, maintenance providers or maintenance processes can now be compared and improvements measured.

The equipment used in a modern fire detection and alarm system such as fire sensors and control panels are produced not only in their millions by global manufacturing businesses to exacting quality requirements. They are also subject to an exacting approvals process prior to being released to market, designed to ensure they meet the appropriate European safety standards.The technology utilised has also improved significantly with sensors capable of distinguishing between real fires and smoke from say a vehicle exhaust or steam from a shower. Then there’s the control equipment with connectivity capable of outputting the data it collects from the thousands of sensors it continuously monitors.

Yet despite all of the above we still send an expensive fire alarm engineer with a “Smoke Pole” around the building once a year to contaminate those relatively clean smoke sensors. Some of which will not respond, and have to be put into “test mode” because they will reject the unreal smoke used to test the sensor! A valuable test? I think not.

So why don’t we apply some common sense and remove the current requirement to test every device once/yr. Firstly, using a hospital as an example, the building is manned 24/7 by competent trained personnel and in most locations the sensors are in a clean environment. In addition, the fire alarm control panel is constantly monitoring the wiring and the devices connected to it and must annunciate any fire or fault that occurs within seconds. The standards define this precisely. Many systems are also capable of reporting the current status of each sensor, again there are clearly defined parameters around what is normal and what is not. Is it really necessary to test every device every year with all this going on?

Drax Technology’s powerful AMX software, adds another level of sophistication and is used to collect the data. It is then possible to generate reports detailing exceptions or trends. If this data is reviewed regularly, the engineer can be used to simply service the devices that are performing outside the “norm” and maybe carry out some additional random testing of say 10% of all devices rather than test everything annually. This would be a huge departure from what is done currently and as mentioned above would need the buy in from all interested parties. However, the savings each year could be significant. Currently the cost to maintain a system comprising around 6000 devices would be around £40k per annum and that’s assuming everything can be done in normal working hours, which in a hospital just doesn’t happen. Using technology and the data provided this figure could be reduced by around 75%, every year.

In addition, the data can also be used to identify whether one manufacturers equipment or system’s provider is more reliable than another. Identifying the cause of unwanted alarms is a lot easier using data collected over time and offers another opportunity to an organisation looking to save money. At the same time the AMX software can provide essential and detailed information should a fire occur with regard to the location and hazards that exist nearby. This additional information saves critical time as well as reducing the risks to occupants and the emergency services.

As mentioned previously, fire detection and alarm systems are maintained in accordance with a set of recommendations, BS5839 Part 1. But they are just that, recommendations. So why not rebel and try something different with the potential to improve productivity as well as safety.  If you already utilise Drax Technology’s AMX software why not give us a call to see what you can save by using the data already at your fingertips. If you don’t have our software on in your premises but see some value in installing it and would like to know more then, again we are just a call away.