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Pittsburgh Airport Spreads Its Wings

July 1, 2008

Honeywell Technology, Services and Energy Expertise Help Nationally Renowned Airport Evolve and Thrive in Fast-Changing Environment

Situated on 10,000 acres, Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) services 200 non-stop flights daily to 50 destinations. With new routes being added each year and the surrounding airfield growing, PIT is a major economic engine for Pennsylvania.

In the 1980s, the Allegheny County Airport Authority needed to expand and update its facilities and equipment to accommodate the growing number of domestic and international flights. Construction on a new terminal at PIT began in 1990, adding 7.7 million square feet of air-side space, more than 100 gates and a shopping mall.

Based on a more-than-40-year relationship, PIT tapped Honeywell for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), and fire alarm systems.

When the terminal opened in 1992, Honeywell helped control more than 26,000 points. Throughout the following years, the company provided several rounds of building and control expansions to accommodate airport growth and to update equipment.

To assist in managing this wide array of equipment, two full-time Honeywell technicians work with the airport's maintenance department as part of an ongoing service agreement, maintaining equipment and supervising much of the field work.

"It's an integrated team," said Tom Long, the director of maintenance at PIT. "Honeywell takes care of the core computer equipment up to the panel, and we work with their technicians to maintain the end devices. They also provide training to our system operators as needed. Our Maintenance and Operations Departments have really benefited from the service relationship."

Systems Integration
With heightened security concerns following Sept. 11, PIT officials wanted the ability to monitor and control all building systems from its Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The vision was that EOC operators would not only control HVAC and lighting systems through a centralized management platform, but also life safety, security and other building systems to provide the most safe and comfortable environment for travelers and airport personnel.

Honeywell recommended migrating to its Enterprise Buildings IntegratorTM (EBI), which boosts efficiency and cuts operating costs by integrating core building technology, and allowing operators to view and control these functions from a single workstation. With EBI, PIT would be able to tie nearly all building systems into a flexible, open architecture while keeping its existing control equipment in place. After extensive planning, Honeywell completed the installation in 2002 with no system downtime.

The EBI platform, consisting of two redundant servers and 11 stations, was customized to the airport's specifications, largely mirroring the look and feel of its previous interface. This minimized the workflow learning curve for operators and reduced training time.

"The EBI transition was incredibly smooth," Long said. "We never lost our screens or control of any system, thanks to careful planning with Honeywell. Our IT people also love it because it has the ability to integrate without adding other systems."

The most outstanding demonstration of the power of EBI, according to Long, came during a smoke test conducted by PIT and its fire department not long after Honeywell technicians installed the system. Airport officials wanted to verify how smoke would travel throughout a particular area of the terminal in the event of a fire. To test smoke control capabilities - involving the combined use of fire alarm and HVAC systems - the fire department set up artificial smoke machines to simulate a blaze in one of the retail stores located along the concourse. When the test was run and the alarm system detected smoke, the HVAC system immediately kicked in, ventilating the area exactly as planned.

"It was amazing, there was literally a wall of smoke on one side and clear air on the other," said Long. "The whole integrated system worked extremely well and gave us great confidence that it was finely tuned."

Besides HVAC and fire, PIT has linked a defibrillator system into the platform. EBI now automatically notifies EOC operators if a defibrillator unit is moved to treat a medical emergency. An alarm pinpoints the incident location so personnel can quickly respond.

Using EBI, PIT also has integrated its fire system into off-site buildings, including hangars and maintenance garages. In addition, the airport is considering incorporating closed circuit television (CCTV) system data, along with the Flight Information Display System (FIDS), which details arrival and departure times.

Energy Conservation
With the reduced number of flights and travelers after Sept. 11, as well as the continual rise in fuel costs, the airport also recognized the need to gain better control of its energy use across its facilities to help offset these pressures. In response, PIT established an energy management team made up of airport management, facilities personnel and Honeywell consultants that meet on a monthly basis to assess energy conservation opportunities throughout the airport.

"Taking a proactive approach in identifying energy saving opportunities, as well as ways to better utilize our systems through EBI, has allowed the airport to realize improvements in the bottom line each year," Long said.

For example, the rooftop units that heat and cool the airport have been optimized to minimize electrical consumption, escalators and moving walkways are shut down at night when traffic is relatively low, and occupancy sensors have been placed throughout areas of the terminal to minimize lighting use, particularly at night.

Sky's the Limit
As PIT looks to expand its capabilities beyond the airport and tie in building systems at the nearby Allegheny County Airport, both managed by the airport authority, Honeywell will support its needs every step of the way.

"Each year, my staff comes up with some great ideas for how to improve our operations and systems," Long said. "And Honeywell helps provide the technology and expertise to implement those ideas and keep us moving forward." 

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