Carrolton, Texas — By David Eoff
It seems the new buzzword for our industry is Mission Critical. It’s the name of a trade magazine that caters to data centers. It’s also a term marketers use when they want to impress upon people that their equipment is installed at important facilities.
Preferred Utilities recently did a fuel oil project at a building that might be termed mission critical. This building will house the airline communication center (ACC) for one of the largest airlines in the country. The FAA requires that airlines be in constant communication with all their active planes at all times.
If they lose communication with a plane, that plane can’t fly. If it’s in the air, the plane has to land. If the airline’s ACC loses power, all their planes are immediately grounded. Losing communications with aircraft would require the airline to ground its fleet, resulting in a huge negative impact across the national airspace system.
The building that houses the ACC is on grid power. But it also has three generators, each with it’s own over-sized belly tank. The airline wanted this building to be tornado resistant, so the generators, belly tanks, and fuel supply system is all below grade. We provided Model 3 fill boxes so even the fill lines for the belly tanks are underground.
The generator to the left is one of three that can provide power for the building if the grid power fails. The Preferred PWC-based fuel controller provides tank gauging, leak detection, and overfill protection for the belly tanks for the three generators.
The image to the bottom right shows tank 1 being filled during final construction of the building. The Preferred system provides tank volume display at the fill port, as well as an overfill alarm at 85% full, and will shut off the fill line at 95% full.
Each generator has enough fuel to power the building for at least 24 hours. In addition, the airline pays a steep premium to be high priority for fuel delivery trucks. Their priority level is just below local hospitals in an emergency. The facility people have my cell phone number too. I live 20 minutes from the building and will respond if something goes wrong.
But who says that mission critical systems can’t be pretty, too? In addition to being tornado resistant, the Preferred Model 3 fill boxes can be hidden behind mulch and shrubberies to offer an aesthetically pleasing appearance. Look at the photo below if you don’t believe us.