Laboratory Control System Technology: A Comparative
David L. Brooks, PE,
Affiliated Engineers, Inc.
This session will analyze and compare the various Laboratory Control
System (LCS) schemes and systems available in the industry today.
Systems are presented from a consultant's point of view (non-vendor)
approach, providing an unbiased approach based on engineering principals.
The presentation will focus on:
- The design, performance, life cycle costs and operational features
of the various Laboratory Control Systems,
- Highlighting design implications and considerations when analyzing
various systems such as fan system design, ductwork layout, specification
development, and integration requirements,
- Evaluating performance of the Laboratory Control System criteria
such as repeatability, accuracy, response time, and ability to
interface with controls,
- Comparing the life cycle cost (evaluated over 10 years) based
on first cost, maintenance costs, replacement costs, and energy
- Evaluating the intuitive nature of the user interface features,
diagnostic features, interoperability features and automation
- Comparing control logic versus vendor specific sequences of
operation routines used in the typical lab environment,
- The numerous systems in the industry and the different features
and schemes used by these manufacturers are just as diverse.
This presentation will provide the end user and designer with the
information necessary to evaluate and select a Laboratory Control
System that best fit application and budget requirements.
The evolution of the industry has led to improvements in controllability,
reliability, and user interface enhancements. As DDC become more
prevalent, integration and user interface capabilities have also
improved. Based on lessons learned, data gathering and important
findings, we can attribute the improvement of these systems to three
- Direct Digital Controls (DDC) has given the end user the information
needed for critical environment monitoring, flexibility in operational
strategies, and simplification of lab systems to work seamlessly
with the other building systems. In addition, the open protocols
utilized by the laboratory control systems of today have made
integration simpler and allowed for a more competitive environment.
- Pressure independent and pressure compensated devices have brought
about faster response times and increased reliability. The venturi
valve used today by many of the manufacturers has provided the
industry with air terminal control devices that are much more
repeatable and accurate than the standard damper/flow station
- A recent enhancement has given designers and users an option
to break away from the pneumatic actuation concept and opt for
electric actuation. The new electric actuators provided through
the lab control manufacturers have performance characteristics
that are equal to or better than the standard pneumatic actuator.
This enhancement has single-handedly lowered the installation
cost of LCS.
The information being presented here addresses some of the basic
elements of the laboratory design. The laboratory control system
manages the entire lab environment: (e.g. Lab pressurization, hood
containment, temperature, humidity and provides a means for data
The laboratory control systems available today present myriad options
and control strategies. This session is about empowering the user
and designer with the information necessary to make informed and
budget conscious decisions of the laboratory design.
The laboratory control system represents the central nervous system
of the laboratory system. The control system performance must reflect
the level of performance desired for the specific laboratory type
(BSL 1,2,3 or 4). With increased levels of bio-safety risk, lab
control system performance criteria increases accordingly. The life
cycle cost analysis gives the user and designer the tools necessary
to evaluate and compare lab performance options against life cycle
Many of the presentations thus far have been constructed and delivered
by manufacturers focused on differentiating their lab control package
from their competitors. David Brooks, PE has spent the last couple
of years focused on researching technologies, visiting manufacturers,
touring facilities, and developing test protocols to evaluate the
performance of Laboratory Control Systems.
David L. Brooks, PE, is employed by Affiliated Engineers
in Gainesville Florida and currently serves as the Department Facilitator
for the Systems Integration Group (SIG) at this location. In this
capacity, Mr. Brooks works directly with Owners and Contractors
on all aspects of the intelligent building system and control system
design from master planning, detailed design, installation management
to commissioning. Mr. Brooks works closely with Mechanical, Electrical
and Plumbing/Fire Protection Engineers to ensure coordination and
technology has been properly integrated into the project. Mr. Brooks
has 15 years of experience designing, managing and commissioning
all aspects of the Intelligent Building Systems Infrastructure (Laboratory
Controls, HVAC Controls, Building Automation Systems, Fire Systems,
Security Systems and a multitude of other intelligent building systems).
Mr. Brooks is a registered controls engineer, is an active member
of ASHRAE, sits on the board of directors for the BACnet Interest
Group of North America (BIG-NA), and a review board member for the
ASHRAE Guideline 13-2000 Specifying Direct Digital Control Systems.
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