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Galveston National Labs Employs IBM Software to Help Fight Infectious Disease

The GNL, a part of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), is dedicated to developing the therapies, vaccines and diagnostic tests needed to combat emerging infectious diseases.  Research taking place in the highly specialized facility includes studies aimed at combating the H1N1 virus, SARS, West Nile encephalitis, avian flu, hemorrhagic fevers (such as Ebola), as well as microbes that might be employed by terrorists.

The GNL’s approximately 190,000-square-foot facility houses research space dedicated to work at biosafety levels (BSL) 2, 3, and 4.  Across the facility, critically important assets and engineering processes are managed, calibrated and monitored by IBM Maximo software. These include biomedical equipment that includes critical systems such as air-flow handlers, decontaminating showers, and door seals and locks.  IBM software helps these assets operate efficiently with double- and triple-redundant systems that assure safe and secure operations.

While currently expertly and efficiently run, GNL will use the IBM software to achieve an even greater level of visibility and control for facility, biomedical and IT assets, all managed by a single system to simplify the use and management of the lab’s equipment.  IBM Maximo will provide the automatic performance of routine, preventive and predictive maintenance on all assets.  These maintenance checks identify where work is required and trigger the planning procedures and staffing assignments needed to accomplish work orders.

As a data-mining engine and database repository that supports advanced analytics, IBM Maximo will also generate information including the costs of running, repairing and replacing assets as well as performance predictions.  In addition, the data gathered are used to compile reports that are required to comply with strict federal, state and local regulations associated with the operation of a high- and maximum-containment research laboratory.

IBM Maximo software provides the kinds of visibility, performance and predictive data analyses that support the science of reliability at Galveston National Laboratory, said David Reynolds, director of Fixed Assets and Reliability Systems. The software works to ensure the kind of equipment performance that creates and maintains a smart, safe, and dynamic environment - one that has a positive impact on our mission to prevent, diagnose and treat potentially life-threatening disease.

GNL expects the IBM Maximo software to yield such benefits as increased efficiencies, precise and automated asset calibration, reduced operating costs, enhanced regulatory reporting capabilities, enhanced safety for scientists and the public, and better coordination of assets with the GNL’s mission to serve as a national and international resource for the safe conduct of essential infectious disease research.  Examples of such benefits include management, maintenance and data generation and analysis for:

  • Heat, pressure, and chemical systems that are housed throughout the laboratory.
  • High-efficiency filtration systems that remove any airborne materials; these are calibrated and maintained to sterilize and make safe all air effluents before they leave the facility.
  • Airflow equipment, critical because these assets ensure the “scouring” of air flows throughout GNL.
  • Double and triple redundancies in biomedical and clinical equipment and systems receive predictive, routine and preventive maintenance from IBM Maximo, which identifies even the slightest sign of wear far in advance of any need for redundancy in the first place.
  • All operations in and during chemical showers for scientists in bio-containment suits as they prepare to exit restricted laboratory areas.  For example, IBM Maximo monitors even the flow of oxygen inside the suits upon which the scientists working in restricted areas depend.
  • Procedures to help in the shut down and securing of all laboratory assets in the case of natural disasters, which IBM Maximo can manage even during hurricanes.

The data generated by IBM software from all asset management also provide the GNL important information upon with to base financially astute decisions, reduce the cost of operations across the facility from the inside out, and meet all government reporting regulations and maintain the highest levels of public transparency concerning operations throughout the labs.

The Galveston National Laboratory is providing one of the most compelling examples of what working smarter to change outcomes for the world really means, said Dan Pelino, general manager, IBM Global Healthcare and Life Sciences Industry. By becoming increasingly instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, the GNL has added new strengths to the near-flawless performance of its assets - both critical and non critical - and demonstrated how analysis of the data captured through the use of advanced information technology can play an essential role in the fight to protect global health.

For more information about the GNL, please visit

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