The Ministry of Defence has won a victory over maintenance at Brompton Barracks, saving huge sums of money and hours of labour. Pennie Varvarides finds out how

The Officer’s Mess at The Royal School of Military Engineering, Brompton Barracks in Chatham, Kent, is in constant use from six in the morning when the cleaners arrive until late at night.

The chandeliers and wall lights in the mess once housed 25W incandescent lamps. Their warm output came at a price: they would fail frequently. So the chandeliers would be lowered for a full relamp every three months.

Wholesale change

Lee Branchett is direct delivery lead supervisor for Babcock Support Services (Infrastructure) – part of a Holdfast consortium – at Brompton Barracks. He says: ‘Because the lamps were on all day, they were only lasting three months. A couple would go out in each chandelier and we’d have to change the whole thing to save time. I got fed up of going back every three months to change the lamps.’

Penalty clause

Branchett heads the in-house maintenance team at Brompton Barracks. Holdfast has a 30-year contract that contains an ‘availability’ clause. He explains: ‘We get fined [if there’s a problem with the lighting]. We have to implement systems that save us time and mitigate the risk of events of unavailability. We can’t have things break down.’

LEDs are saving the MOD £29,000

This means he wants systems that do not need constant attention. The aim of the lighting retrofit project was to lower costs overall at the mess without compromising light quality.

So Branchett started his search for replacement lamps. He installed some 6W LED Candles from Toshiba – which scored four stars in the LuxBench Test in January– in the chandeliers.

Spot the difference

People using the room couldn’t tell the difference between the LEDs and the old incandescents, so after a four-week trial, all the lamps in the chandeliers and along the walls were replaced.

The LEDs will last up to 20 times longer than their incandescent counterparts, and consume 19W less. ‘We were so impressed with the LEDs we did installed them in the Mess conservatory are too,’ Branchett adds.

The Toshiba LED Candle 6W BC Clear has an output of 250 lumens, so each lamp achieves about 42 lumens per watt. Energy bills for the hall have been slashed by 75 per cent, which will save the Ministry of Defence £29,000 over three years.

A major benefit of the installation is that the maintenance team will no longer have to completely relamp the mess every three months. The period between relampings is likely to be three years.

Branchett explains: ‘LEDs are more expensive, but given the extended life, the cost will be offset. We’re here for a longer period, so we’ll get more out of it. It pays off in the long run.

Hassle avoided

‘Health and safety is such a big thing for us. Working at height poses many risks. Because the LEDs cut the number of times we have to climb up there, it saves loads of hassle.’

The dimmable LEDs also shrug off vibration, so he maintenance team can bring the chandeliers down can bring them down and clean them without fear of damaging lamps. ‘This is huge,’ says Branchett.

The next step is to upgrade the office and school lighting on the barracks. There are lots of plans in the pipeline for upgrading to LED across the barracks, with the aim of saving the client utility costs and easing the maintenance burden.

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