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The new fire detection system has made a tangible difference to the operation of the building
Hochiki’s (ESP) provides flexibility to accommodate integrated building management and complex life safety systems

As one of the mainstays of the UK breakfast cereal market, few will be unfamiliar with Sugar Puffs. Immensely popular for nearly 60 years, since the 1970s the Honey Monster has been at the forefront of a number of memorable advertising campaigns that have seen him working with people as diverse as Boyzone, Kevin Keegan and ‘punk poet’ John Cooper Clarke. In 1982 he even got to meet Prince Charles when he took a tour of the factory at Southall, Middlesex.

Previously owned by Quaker Oats, in 2006 the Sugar Puffs brand was acquired by Honey Monster Foods. Still based at the same site, the company now also manufactures a number of other products including Honey Waffles, Choco Puffs, Choco Waffles and Monster Puff bars and is part of the Raisio Group.

Within this busy production environment the safety of those working there is paramount, which is why a fire detection system is so important. Unfortunately, for Honey Monster Foods the problems of unwanted alarms had become untenable and John Higgins, the company’s Project Engineering manager, explains, ‘Things had got to a point where an unwanted alarm was a weekly occurrence. Needless to say, this was highly disruptive as it required a full evacuation of the premises and a shut down of the production plant, all of which was a waste of valuable time and money.’

John Higgins contacted High Wycombe based Surefire Services, one of the UK’s leading specialists in the configuration of fire detection solutions for industry and commerce, to see what could be done to address the problem. With over 30 years of industry experience, the company uses its extensive knowledge of leading edge technology to support its customers with expertly specified and installed systems.

Marcus Kemp, the company’s services director, says, ‘We had previously worked with Honey Monster Foods on the installation of a water mist system in one part of its premises, so we were already familiar with the issues that John and his team were having. After carrying out a full site survey and assessment of the existing closed protocol system, we decided that due to its age it was uneconomical to try to repair it. We therefore recommended replacing it with an open protocol system from Hochiki Europe.’

Surefire has enjoyed a relationship with Hochiki Europe that stretches back in excess of 20 years. Asked to explain the reasons behind this longevity, Kemp replies, ‘First and foremost it would have to be the proven reliability of its diverse range of products. We know that whatever application we are working in, we will be able to access a suitable solution that is backed up with unrivalled levels of service and support – elements that make our lives easier. I also like the fact that the company does not accept product failures. While some other companies think that anything up to a three per cent detector failure rate is acceptable, Hochiki Europe doesn’t.’

One of the reasons that Honey Monster Foods had experienced so many unwanted alarms was due to water entering the call points during the regular cleaning of the production facility. In order to prevent this type of problem reoccurring Surefire recommended the use of 70 HCP-W(SCI) weatherproof call points, which could offer the requisite level of ingress protection (IP).

‘A product’s IP rating consists of the letters IP followed by two digits,’ comments Paul Adams, Hochiki Europe’s deputy marketing manager. ‘It classifies the degrees of protection provided against the intrusion of solid objects, dust, accidental contact, and water in electrical enclosures. The higher the number, the higher the protection offered.’

The IP rating of the HCP-E is IP67 (highest possible is IP68). IP67 means that the product is protected against the effects of being immersed in water and it is also dust tight.

The new system is based around Hochiki Europe’s Enhanced Systems Protocol (ESP), a robust total communications solution for intelligent fire detection and fully integrated systems that provides the flexibility to accommodate simple addressable systems, as well as integrated building management and complex life safety systems.

As well as the weatherproof call points, a number of smoke sensors were also configured around a Kentec Electronics control panel. Marcus Kemp says, ‘We installed a number of ALG-EN optical smoke sensors that feature Hochiki Europe’s pioneering High Performance Chamber Technology. This design minimises the differences in sensitivity experienced in flaming and smouldering fires and the result is a high performance optical chamber that is equally responsive to all smoke types and helps to reduce the possibility of unwanted alarms. It can be easily removed or replaced for cleaning which is something that is particularly useful in a food manufacturing environment.’

To minimise the amount of disruption caused by the installation of the new equipment, Surefire deployed a team, who completed the work in just five days. This involved keeping the original control panels live while the new ones were installed, so that complete protection could be ensured at all times.

The installation was completed on time to the exact specification required and no unwanted alarms have since been reported. Honey Monster Foods’ John Higgins, concludes, ‘The new fire detection system has made a tangible difference to the operation of the building and we are all benefitting from the lack of disruption to our working days. I’m confident that we have the best possible life safety solution in place and we have commissioned Surefire to extend the system into other areas of the building.’

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