Friday, April 27, 2007

Detail of the Week: The Long and Winding Road

Okay, this is kind of a detail but kind of not. I suppose it's more of an explanation than anything. Yet again, Wandering Author's comment on my last post asked how is it possible to design a room into which it is suddenly found impossible to move equipment. There's more than one reason for this happening, all of them perfectly legitimate.

First: most medical equipment companies understand that not all of their products are sold to brand new facilities. Often, equipment comes crated in more than one piece, and someone moves the crates into the finished space (i.e., with flooring, paint, wall base, ceiling, lights, casework, etc. in it). Then, the installer (sometimes that's the general contractor, and sometimes it's a special installer either from the equipment vendor or approved of and trained by the vendor) unwraps the equipment and moves it into place, hooking it up to power, water, etc. Hence, it's generally not a problem to fit a piece of equipment through a 3'-0" opening.

Second: it's easy to read equipment sizes on the vendor's cut sheets and not make the connection. The sterilizer in question in the last post is described as being 35 7/8" wide. A door is described as 3'-0", or 36" wide. Sounds good, right? Ah, but remember that door frames have a stop in them that the door whacks against when it closes. This door stop is usually about 1/2" to 5/8" deep. So, in a good situation, the actual opening in the door frame, even if you take the door off its hinges, is only about 35". That little fact is easy to forget. Granted, sometimes the doors coming into a soiled processing room is more like 3'-6" wide or even 4'-0" wide, but those doors are also very expensive, so when the owner needs to reduce costs and assures us that all of their soiled processing carts will fit through a 3'-0" door, then we'll give them 3'-0" doors because they'll work just fine for daily use.

Third: there's a shitload of medical equipment in a 70,000-square-foot hospital, and it's no surprise that something's not gonna work quite right, not fit in its spot, or not fit through a door. Sitting on my desk right now is a book of equipment cut sheets for this project, and I kid you not, the binder is eight inches thick. It's the biggest 3-ring binder I've ever seen, and the sheets actually are bursting out of it. When the equipment consultant and I looked at the cut sheet while on the phone together, she said, "Well, I reckon they were expecting us to actually have time to read the whole cut sheet, huh?"

So what do we do with the cut sheets? And what the hell is a cut sheet anyway? Cut sheets are the pages that show pictures of a piece of equipment and also detail how big it is, how much it weighs, what kind of electrical power it needs, what kind of water supply it needs, what kind of ventilation needs it has, and what areas of clearance are required around it (to name a few things). For more complicated pieces of equipment, the cut sheets also detail information about mounting the equipment (does it go on the wall? does it sit on the floor?) and what the contractor needs to provide in order to install the equipment (the equipment comes with the mounting plate, but the contractor will need to provide unistrut supports above the ceiling). The design and construction teams use the cut sheets to make sure they have everything they need to make sure that the equipment can be used when they get there and will actually fit in the room/on the counter/under the countertop/under a 9-foot-high ceiling. Usually, reviewing these cut sheets allows us to notice if something's really big, but alas, we missed this one.

Honestly, Wheatlands has gone pretty well in terms of equipment coordination. The sterilizer and a surgical scrub sink have given us issues, but that's about it. Equipment-wise, we've been lucky.


The Wandering Author said...

Thanks, Pixie. Why do I ask questions that take an entire post to answer? You see, the trouble with writers is, they have this need to understand exactly how everything works... ;-O

Glad I could help you out of the writer's block, though.

Seriously, you're good at this. I don't know how much of a market there'd be for a book on architecture for non-architects, but if there would be one, you'd make a good choice for the author.

faded said...

There was a project I worked on a Pickles, Pickles and Pickles where some fire equipment was left out. The firm was building a large assembly space for a client. After the building was done, the fire inspector pointed out that the designer/project manager neglected to put smoke hatches in the roof. Four of them needed to be added after the building was completed. It was determined that the omission of the hatches was an over site on the part of the designer and Pickles, Pickles and Pickles paid the bill for their installation. Ouch!!

Given all the detail required to build a building I am amazed it this sort of thing does not happen more often. In terms of errors and mistakes the architecture business has a much lower error rate than the software business. The software folks could learn a lot from the architecture folks about how to program and spec a project.