Grayson Thermal Systems’ new solution provides extra protection to London bus drivers

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A Birmingham manufacturer has helped to further protect London bus drivers against Covid-19 by developing a new way of circulating air around the cab. Commissioned by Transport for London (TfL) and taking expert advice from University College London (UCL), Grayson Thermal Systems (GTS) has come up with a way of changing air-conditioning recirculating systems into units that circulate fresh air into the driver’s cab from outside the vehicle.

The company’s team of engineers came up with the prototype solution, and it was then invited by eight London fleet operating companies to convert more than 1,200 buses over a two-month period, meaning all 9,300 buses in London’s fleet meet TfL’s strict driver safety guidance and new specifications.

Ian Hateley, Group Aftermarket Director at GTS, explained: “The loss of London bus drivers to the pandemic is tragic and we were pleased to be part of a solution to build on TfL’s existing safety measures to reduce the potential spread of the virus. We looked at our existing air-conditioning systems and developed a way of converting them so that they created positive pressure in the enclosed driver cabin, forcing existing air out and replacing it with air from outside the bus.

“Now complete, the modification gives in excess of 100 air changes per hour within the driver cabin and ensures that a wider initiative to seal the driver cabin away from passengers is enhanced, as air is no longer moving from the entrance into the cab area.”

GTS, which designs, manufactures and supplies engine cooling, heating and air-conditioning products to customers around the globe, created a new positive air retrofit unit for each vehicle type and then set about a capacity plan to convert each of the 1,200 vehicles in London.

Six centres were set up across the city and a fifteen-strong team of engineers from GTS and Alexander Dennis were trained up for the project, whilst a specialist scaffolding gantry was designed and built by partner London Network Scaffolding so experts could work on the roof of the vehicles safely.

All 1,200 air-conditioning systems were additionally health checked upon modification and a triage system was set up to rectify any vehicles where faults were identified within the GTS five-year warranty.

“This was a massive logistical task and one that we overcame as every partner in the project was fully on board, so that we could make the changes as quickly as possible and further protect London bus drivers who are doing a great job. In the end, the final project delivery came in ahead of plan for every site,” continued Ian.

“I’m very proud of how our designers and engineers came up with a solution and delivered it in a very strict timeframe, playing a small but important role in helping to combat the spread of Covid-19.”

A new positive air retrofit unit gives in excess of 100 air changes per hour within the driver’s cab. GRAYSON THERMAL