Protecting 10,000 sq metres of flooring at Tate Modern

How does one go about ensuring that a £260 million revamp of one of London's most iconic cultural buildings goes smoothly? Additionally, it needs to go quickly whilst still retaining extreme precision during the process. This was the challenge the builders of Tate Moderns' extension threw down.

For a start, it was more technically challenging than anticipated. Timber shrinks when dry, and expands when damp, which is a normal process; the challenging part comes with the precision involved, as each gap between the timbers used had to be 0.4mm, with 1mm accuracy on 30 m spans, on top of the fact there was 10,000 square metres of timber flooring spread across ten storeys! Controlling ambient conditions within acceptable parameters was paramount so as to avoid expansion and potential damage to the flooring. Just to add to the challenge there were over 600 items fixed in or on the flooring, such as temporary walls or access panels, to work around. So whatever system was used had to be autonomous, robust, simple and quick to deploy.

Fortunately, the RDL//1000 wireless sensor system was there to monitor everything. With its quick and easy setup and robust battery powered sensors it proved to be incredibly simple to keep an eye on everything. The system monitored combinations of ambient temperature and humidity and wood moisture levels, at intervals of 15 minutes, and sent the data to the SmartHub via its own on-board GSM function once every hour.

From the CDL SmartHub the contractors could use their smartphones, tablets or PCs to monitor trends, set alarm thresholds and most importantly receive alerts by text and email if the alarms were triggered, giving the site team time to resolve any issues that cropped up over the course of construction.

Thanks to the RDL//1000 sensor range of up to 500m, the RDL//1000 wireless sensors were able to monitor the ambient conditions with simplicity even through the thick concrete flooring bases. Each base station was able to transmit and receive through 4 thick concrete floors, so the connectivity between sensors and base station was assured. Even so, due to the size of the Tate Modern project there were over 4 base stations and 80 sensors covering the entire site and maintaining optimal coverage.

The connectivity of sensors was important as temporary walls were laid and then removed or moved as needed. This meant even more atmospheric changes were occurring than on a normal construction site, which needed to be monitored to ensure that the flooring was not compromised.

The alarm system on the CDL SmartHub alerted the on-site supervisors and workers whenever the ambient conditions changed sufficiently above or below the programmed levels, and disasters were avoided. One of the many features of the RDL//1000 and its SmartHub is the management reporting function and data archiving, so there is permanent data available and an audit trail in case of any future issues.

They can also link sensor systems to 3D graphics that they create for their clients of a building, showing real time conditions of a multitude of parameters and any "alarm" situations, so creating "Smart" buildings. These can work with the existing Building Management Systems [BMS], or autonomously alongside them. The building operators can then see and manage their assets from their smartphones or tablets, giving a complete end to end solution that covers all functionality that may be required.

February 2017

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