CAEP, the state of the art Centralized Equipment Processing Facility now ending its first year of operations, was developed to make research equipment processing more efficient and sustainable. CAEP is located on the ground level of the UC San Diego’s new Centralized Research Services Facility, which was funded in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. The facility achieved LEED Gold certification despite having significant energy demands.
The equipment processing facility is meant to replace the processing of research equipment from over 20 individual research facilities where currently over 100 pieces of heavy industrial equipment are operated and maintained. The new facility uses high efficiency technology along with process automation all designed to process equipment at a fraction of the cost and requiring a fraction of the utilities as those in the existing facilities.
The design emphasizes a “one-touch” system in order to eliminate inefficiencies that come from handling each piece of equipment multiple times. Equipment requiring processing is placed on logistic carts at the multiple research sites and transported to the CAEP. Upon arrival, automated systems including conveyers, diverters, lifters, flippers, dispensers, scrapers, stackers and washers go to work to process and sanitize the equipment. The automation system is programmed to handle at least six caging system types, with plans for it to handle more in the near future. Software ties all of the components together and allows for the remote tracking and coordination of resources. The software joins software systems from throughout the Animal Care Program in a comprehensive suite serving as the backbone of the Animal Operation Center located directly above the equipment-processing center in the CRSF.
With CAEP now being used for all newly established research buildings, UC San Diego has been able to eliminate the cage wash function from all new facilities. This translates into University savings of over $10 million in new construction costs. UC San Diego has realized an additional savings of $1.8 million by eliminating the replacement of older heavy industrial equipment in existing facilities that are being migrated to CAEP. When fully transitioned, the facility is expected to save approximately 20 million gallons of water, 25,000 pounds of steam, and 560 thousand kilowatts of electricity annually over standard dispersed operations. UC San Diego has realized well over $200,000 in utility savings during the first year of operations. Additional savings will be tracked as UC San Diego continues operations using this new support paradigm.