Ventilation systems for hospitals: TÜV NORD offering preliminary checks with remote inspection

26. Juli 2023 | Industry: Enhancing sustainability through checks of large-scale equipment before international shipping

Essen: Strict hygiene regulations, which also have an impact on building technology, apply in hospitals – for good reason. Ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems which ventilate and remove stale air from indoor spaces, carry out air conditioning functions, filter the air and recover heat are of particular importance. If their design should mean that they perform less than perfectly in hygienic terms, this will mean that the air quality, far from improving, is actually made worse. “This is why manufacturers turn to voluntary product testing and certification to ensure the hygiene conformity of their devices and document this conformity with a test mark from an independent organisation,” says Timo Reisner from TÜV NORD. With its new preliminary check, the company is now making a contribution to greater sustainability, as costly ocean shipping is reduced, and emissions are avoided. 

Although a basic hygiene test is not mandatory for HVAC systems, it is nonetheless recommended for manufacturers, as they can use this test to provide proof of quality for their products, says Mr. Reisner. In this kind of basic test, a type is examined which must be representative of the series product in terms of the material and components used. Once it has passed the test, the series production which follows is certified based on the prototype. Timo Reisner: “With our hygiene tests, we’re helping to ensure that ventilation systems in hospitals are designed to be both safe and hygienically flawless.” For the tests carried out in the TÜV NORD Laboratory for Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Ventilation Technology, it is irrelevant whether the unit under scrutiny is a central unit, i.e., one which ventilates entire buildings, or a decentralised one which only ventilates parts of the building or individual rooms.

Defective equipment must be returned and repaired

“Sometimes glaring defects come to light during the basic test,” explains Rm. Reisner. “In some cases, we discover huge leaks in housings or filter installations. We also often find that components are installed which aren’t approved for use in hospitals or that certain components aren’t accessible and are therefore virtually impossible to clean.” 

If it proves impossible to certify the equipment due to such fundamental defects, all the major logistical effort and expense will have been in vain: The large and bulky devices must be dismantled in the laboratory and returned to the factory to carry out the necessary rework, including any design changes – and the equipment must then be shipped back to the laboratory. This is inevitably expensive and time-consuming, especially with overseas manufacturers. Not only that but shipping the equipment around the world generates high emissions.

Cutting out unnecessary transportation reduces costs and emissions

This is why TÜV NORD is now offering preliminary checks: "In this way, we’re helping manufacturers avoid the worst mistakes before the equipment embarks on a journey that takes weeks and then has to be laboriously assembled and disassembled,” explains Timo Reisner. The preliminary check includes a review of the technical documentation. “We also offer remote inspection of the finished and ready-to-ship equipment: by this I mean a visual inspection which our experts in Germany carry out via a secure video connection with customers at their production sites worldwide,” says Mr Reisner.

The regular monitoring audits for certified products, which take place every three years, can also in some cases take place remotely. Particular emphasis is placed on checking the quality management system to ensure that manufactured devices meet the same quality standard as the type used in the basic test. “Only if the device design has been modified is a new laboratory test required; this will be the case if the changes have had an impact on the mechanical properties of the device or additional components need to be included in the certification.”


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Ventilation and air-conditioning systems are subject to normative requirements in Germany. The authoritative standard for office buildings is VDI 6022-1. This standard deals with the hygienic requirements for shared indoor spaces, for example offices. DIN 1946-4 sets out the requirements for HVAC systems in hospitals to which special hygiene regulations apply.

The basic test consists of three parts. A mechanical test is carried out based on EN 1886. This contains the test specifications for housing or filter bypass leaks. All the components are visually inspected and the documentation reviewed to ensure compliance with VDI 6022-1 and/or DIN 1946-4. The basis for this is DIN EN ISO 846, which essentially deals with the suitability of the materials used.

Further information on the Test Laboratory For Refrigeration. Air Conditioning And Ventilation Technology can be found here.


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