General Mills installs Notifier solution

Company’s research and development facility utilizes intelligent fire alarm network

The primary NFS2-3030 control panel, which can support up to ten Signaling Line Circuits (SLCs) and 3,180 intelligent devices, is paired with the ONYXWorks graphical workstation as well as a forty-inch monitor in the JFB Incident Command Center. The ONYXWorks workstation integrates all the fire safety components into a single point of control. In conjunction with the monitor, it provides a graphical overview of conditions throughout the facility and allows all key personnel at the Incident Command Center to supervise and control fire safety throughout JFB. In addition, the system features an integrated speaker control panel for maximum communication capabilities with fire fighting personnel, and all building engineers and maintenance engineers have voice pagers to receive updates on alarm status.

The eighteen NFS2-640s are linked to the NFS2-3030, ONYXWorks, and to one another via NOTI-FIRE-NET, NOTIFIER’s intelligent fire alarm network. On the network, each panel operates independently, yet cohesively, as part of unified fire and life safety system. NOTI-FIRE-NET’s flexibility and expandability aligned perfectly with the needs of Lauren Hoen and JFB.

Hoen said, "One thing we particularly did not want was another proprietary system that could only be maintained and upgraded by a single vendor. We were fairly certain the system we wanted would be a NOTIFIER, because of its system architecture and design, as well as the variety of vendors available to provide any needed service."

JFB's fire safety system not only had to address all of Hoen's concerns, but it had to meet a huge array of regulatory as well as internal standards. Hoen explained, "As a food research facility, we fall under just about every regulatory agency one can imagine. Our designs and installations had to meet USDA, FDA and Department of Agriculture requirements, among many others, in addition to IBC, FM Global, UL and a very tough staff of fire and building professionals in our city.

"We also have very stringent internal standards within General Mills, including safety design, CAD standards, component wash-down requirements, personal protective equipment (PPE), installation staff requirements, HAZMAT, recycling requirements of removed equipment, and even procedures on how project purpose, construction impact and testing is communicated to GM employees. The NOTIFIER system and Low Voltage Contractors have exceeded my expectations while helping us to meet all these tough standards."

"The installation process took just about two years, and has been operational for just under a year," according to Hoen. Hoen continued, "We now have a sophisticated and user-friendly fire safety system at JFB, one with a seamless interface and entirely without the complexities and problems inherent to our previous system. The NOTIFIER system has also saved us substantial dollars, as training costs on this system are significantly lower."

The work is not yet done for Hoen and Low Voltage Contractors. Westberg concluded, "JFB is always updating and there is constant construction. NOTIFIER is certainly playing a role in these future developments, with system expansions, with a new voice system being added in select locations, and with a plan for exterior notifications on the building exteriors and grounds in 2009."

There may be some changes to the fire and life safety recipe at General Mills' JFB Technical Center, but the central ingredient will remain the same—NOTIFIER.