NHS UK, Emergency Clamp On Oxygen Flow Measurement

RS Hydro have recently provided 24/7 support services for measuring oxygen using Panametrics clamp on gas flow meters throughout the whole of the UK and Ireland. The demand for this service has been unprecedented and has been a milestone in RS Hydro's ability to respond quickly to emergency requests for providing real-time oxygen usage.

Following the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK during February and March 2020, UK hospitals have been inundated with patients. COVID-19 infects the cell lining of the throat, airways and lungs and turns them into 'Coronavirus factories' that spew out huge amounts of new viruses that go onto affect more cells. In 8 out of 10 cases the symptoms are very mild but for some the immune system overreacts to the virus and causes an imbalance of the immune response. Over-inflammation of the lungs, which is where the body absorbs oxygen into the blood means that the body cannot absorb as much oxygen causing shortness of breath and a general difficulty of breathing. For some, breathing has to be assisted with the use of ventilators or pure oxygen supplies from a central on-site oxygen tank.

The sheer number of patients being admitted to the hospitals has caused severe strains on all of the hospital's resources; including that of the main oxygen supply system. A typical oxygen tank on site can hold enough oxygen for a hospital to last many weeks. However, most tanks have a simple re-ordering system which sends off the current pressure to the supplier. Based on this, scheduled deliveries can be made before the tank becomes low. However, these systems do not provide a very resolute system for understanding demand and this data is typically only for the supplier of the gas, not the client. As such, most NHS hospitals have had to monitor the main tank pressures very closely and then calculate usage manually. However, this also does not provide very resolute data because the pressure gauge cannot provide the accuracy required. The other main issue is that if more oxygen is demanded than the oxygen tank and evaporators were designed to deliver then there is a perceived risk that liquid oxygen could be pulled into the supply network or block the evaporators. This could effectively choke the amount of oxygen available to the hospital. It is therefore immensely important to understand the real-time use of oxygen being supplied and to ensure that the demand does not exceed the design specification of the system.

Some hospitals have been experiencing difficulties and as such RS Hydro have been inundated with enquiries to provide both emergency short-term and permanent measurement of oxygen to hospitals. Since the beginning of April 2020 RS Hydro engineers have installed temporary clamp on gas flow meters (Panametrics PT878GC) throughout the UK. Such has been the urgency that we have installed meters within 24 hours of receipt of purchase orders. In all cases the clamp on gas flow meters have been deployed with remote telemetry units to provide near real-time data. Data is continuously logged at 1-min intervals and uploaded between 1-60min intervals.

RS Hydro have the largest rental fleet of clamp on flow meters in Europe and as such have been able to react quickly to these urgent requirements. It has required our engineers to work as single-man teams whilst socially distancing themselves from others.

Rob Stevens, MD of RS Hydro commented: "it has been extremely challenging and as a company we have prioritised any work for the NHS over any client; this has been fully supported by our non-NHS clients who understand the situation. As an instrumentation and service company it is hard for us to support the COVID-19 as there is only limited alignment. However, through this we have found a way to channel our efforts to help the NHS in its hour of need. We have provided a 24/7 contact number for estates managers and facility managers to contact us. This has meant that estates/facility managers alike have been able to discuss applications, receive quotes and action installations outside normal working hours seven days per week. The service has meant that hospitals can understand better what is happening with their oxygen supplies and furthermore make contingency plans around it. Of course, none of this has been possible without the support of RS Hydro's staff who have worked hard to make these instruments available and to install them"

The Panametrics PT878GC is a very flexible portable transit time gas flow meter which can be installed within minutes to measure a whole range of gases but in this case we typically installed them on 1-2" copper pipework. Typically, the flow meters and telemetry units are installed within 1-hour. As a backup, the PT878GC is also set to record a multitude of diagnostics and flow data every 60-seconds. Although the PT878GC is battery powered it can be installed indefinitely using a temporary power supply. For many of the installations we have provided rentals for we are also going to install permanent GC868 strap on gas flow meters with integrated pressure compensation to ensure very accurate instantaneous flow rate measurement. Combined with remote telemetry units, estates managers are alerted the instant a threshold has been exceeded providing peace of mind and to allow them to concentrate on other issues. RS Hydro can provide next day on site rentals along with engineers anywhere in the UK/Ireland. If you would like to know more please contact us.

Application Data

  • Gas: Oxygen
  • Pipe Material: Copper
  • Diameter/Wall Thickness: 28mm / 0.9mm
  • Pressure: 10-14 bar
  • Velocity Range: 0-5m/sec
  • Installation Period: Up to 12 weeks
  • Log Inteval: 1-minute