Tynecastle’s winning team


SPIE’s Gary Meechan at Tynecastle

SELECT Member business SPIE UK scored a winner when it took on the task of fitting energy efficient floodlights at Hearts’ Tynecastle stadium. The company’s UK Design Manager, Gary Meechan, describes the challenges of working on the towering structures and installing the new LED set-up, part of a £400,000 revamp of the Edinburgh ground

The spotlight was on Heart of Midlothian Football Club in July when they returned to the Scottish Premier League after a season away, but that was partly thanks to the work of Gary Meechan and his team at SPIE UK who managed the installation of new LED floodlights at the Tynecastle ground.


The famous old stadium had undergone a £400,000 renovation programme to welcome Jambos fans back to the new season and a large part of that included the essential replacement of the halogen floodlights.


SPIE UK, a technical engineering solutions provider for the built environment and subsidiary of SPIE, the independent European leader for multi-technical services in the areas of energy and communications, was invited to tender for the contract to replace the floodlights as it already provided facilities management (FM) services to the Edinburgh club.


Glasgow-based SPIE UK Design Manager Gary explained: “In addition to providing mechanical and electrical (M&E) services, our company has a facilities management arm which does a lot of work with schools in Scotland and other organisations, one of which was managing the Hearts stadium for more than five years.


Did you know?

National and international football governing bodies provide floodlighting regulations to clubs to ensure pitch lighting meets the standards for safety and performance.


However, for clubs playing in the English Football League, Premier League, Scottish Premier League and Cymru Premier, the floodlighting standards are set by UEFA so that additional considerations for broadcasting can be taken into account.


In addition, European standard BS EN 12193:2018 also presents recommendations and requirements for sports lighting.


Source: https://bit.ly/3xiTuYV



“At Tynecastle, we provide planned and reactive maintenance to the M&E assets within the stadium as well as providing an electrician on standby for each of the games to deal with any emergencies, and a back-up generator for UEFA regulation games.


“More recently, our Asset Condition team has worked with the Hearts Stadium Manager to carry out surveys throughout the ground covering M&E assets as well as fabric-related areas such as steelwork, roofing and internal finishes, to help provide the football club with budgetary and cash flow projections.


“Thanks to our successful relationship with the football club and the technical expertise we have provided them, Hearts also asked us to tender for the pitch floodlights that needed to be replaced.”


The new LED lights will cut costs and carbon emissions

SPIE UK also has a long working relationship with Signify (formerly known as Philips Lighting) so they partnered with this world leader in lighting solutions on the Tynecastle contract to replace the old halogen lamps with an energy efficient LED lighting system.


The new lighting system comprises 14 Philips ArenaVision LED gen3.5* 800 lux luminaires mounted on the headframe of each of the floodlight stanchions at each corner of the pitch.


These 14 luminaires are arranged in two rows of four, plus three rows of two, and conform with Scottish FA 800 lux Eh Gold criteria. There is extra space available on each headframe for more lux to be added at a future date to increase the level to UEFA Level B criteria.


The new Philips LED floodlights will give Hearts a big reduction in running costs and provide a much more efficient system, which should save the club more than 34,000 kilos of CO2e each year, resulting in an energy saving of circa 78%, as the original 56 halogen lamps in each of the four floodlight arrays have now been replaced with just 14 long-life Philips ArenaVision LED luminaires.


Describing his role on the project, Gary said: “Although I’m designated as a Design Manager, I’m an electrician by trade so my role early on in the contract was to liaise with Signify to develop a system to ensure the new floodlight installation was compliant with Scottish FA floodlight regulations and UEFA regulations for potential European games in the future.”


School floodlight programme

While the Hearts contract was Gary’s first major lighting project for a football club, he is not finished with floodlights quite yet. SPIE UK, as part of its schools FM contract, will be partnering again with Signify to replace the lighting at a number of school football pitches around Scotland.


Gary said: “As part of this contract we will be replacing the school football pitch lights in the same vein as we did at Hearts but obviously not to the same magnitude.


“The school floodlights comprise around 12 light fittings per stanchion to produce around 200 lux of illumination for football, but for those pitches which are also used for hockey they will require a higher level of illumination.”


The floodlight array headframes have been retained on the existing floodlight support stanchions, so Gary’s team was responsible for the installation of the new Philips light fittings with their associated drivers; the drivers providing a regulating buffer between the current source and the high output lamps, making them less vulnerable to electrical overload.

David and Toma inspect the stadium’s floodlights

In addition to the installation of the lights, the team also took the opportunity to re-engineer the power and wiring infrastructure for the floodlights as Gary explained: “Hearts originally had a low-level power unit in each of the floodlight support stanchions, which contained all remote-control gear. We decided to change the strategy because it was more efficient to have the distribution board at a higher level and feeding into the fittings locally as opposed to running loads of separate circuits up the side of the stanchion as they had previously done.


“Owing to the high voltage load on the lamps, we decided to only put three lamps on a single circuit”

“So we have installed new distribution boards up on the top gantry of the stanchion local to the floodlights, some 60 feet above the ground, which then feed into the new light fittings. Owing to the high voltage load on the lamps, we decided to only put three lamps on a single circuit.


“We’ve installed four-way TP&N 100A distribution boards in each stanchion, which essentially means you have 12 circuits, so we have three light fittings per circuit at 32A per supply. We also installed remote switching in the ground’s control room to provide 50% and 100% power options.


“The previous 56 halogen lights per floodlight array used to fill most of the lighting rig but the new 14 replacement LED light array now only fills about half of this, which helps to give Hearts flexibility going forward. With the installation of the 100A distribution boards, and extra space on the floodlight gantry, it effectively future-proofs the stadium. This allows for any ‘bolt-ons’, such as if they require more illumination because of new regulations or, for example, to incorporate specialist lights and management software to host light shows like other large clubs put on.”


Working closely with the SPIE FM team, Project Manager Tom Crockatt supervised the team, who were under pressure to complete the three-month project in time for the start of the 2021/22 Scottish Premier League season in late July.


Once Signify had delivered the lights to the ground, the team used Hearts’ mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) to load the lights and drivers onto the top gantry of each floodlight stanchion for installation.


Did you know?

  • Hearts was formed in 1874.

  • The club’s name was influenced by Walter Scott’s novel The Heart of Midlothian.

  • The club crest is based on the Heart of Midlothian mosaic on the city’s Royal Mile

  • Hearts originally played at the Meadows, Powburn and Powderhall before moving to the Gorgie area of Edinburgh in 1881. Tynecastle became their home in 1886.

  • The Edinburgh derby with Hibernian first took place on Christmas Day in 1875 in a challenge match. Hearts won 1-0 in what was Hibs’ first ever fixture.

  • Tynecastle has a seating capacity of 20,099, which makes it the sixth-largest football stadium in Scotland.

Source: https://spfl.co.uk/news/10-things-about-hearts


Tom explained some of the challenges of the work: “Obviously, working at height meant that harnesses were required to maintain the safety of our operatives and tool lanyards were used to minimise risk, but we also had to make sure the areas around the base of each tower were barriered off to ensure the safety of Hearts staff and other contractors.


“The big job was to bolt the lights – which, with their drivers, weighed about 32kg – to the existing headframe with M20 marine-grade bolts and nuts following the manufacturer’s installation guidelines, and also install the distribution boards on each of the stanchions, which were supported on Unistrut channel bolted to the structure.”


Electrical Supervisor David McCann described the cabling work involved.

He said: “We also had to run armoured cabling to and from the distribution boards to junction boxes located beside the lamp drivers, where cable type changed to rubber for final connection to drivers and flood lights.


David and Tom at work on the lights

“The existing infrastructure cabling was used from the main switch room to the incoming supply cubicle on each stanchion tower, and, as part of upgrading the existing installation, new main switches, control contactors and isolators were installed. Then the complete system was tested and certificated.”


“We decided to change the strategy because it was more efficient to have the distribution board at a higher level and feeding into the fittings locally”

While the team enjoyed panoramic views across Edinburgh and the surrounding countryside, the working conditions were sometimes challenging, as Tom explained. “The weather conditions were not always favourable, but they did not delay the works,” he said. “High winds would have had an impact but thankfully we did not encounter any during the work.”


Another challenge was working together with the Hearts stadium team while observing COVID-19 regulations. Tom said: “COVID has had to be part of our working regime for some time now and our operatives are very mindful when working in client’s properties and alongside other contractors. The benefit to this project was that 90% of it was outside, so it was easier to deal with in terms of social distancing.”


The team finished the installation work on Friday 18 June and Signify returned on-site on 30 June to set up the precision aiming points across the pitch, with SPIE UK engineers assisting with the adjusting and final settings of the floodlight angles.


Looking back on the project, Gary is pleased with the way it has gone.

He said: “The big challenge for the team was taking the old halogen lights down because you’ve got 56 fittings per stanchion – that’s 224 lamps that have to be removed and replaced with 56 new ones and also fitting new distribution boards into the centre of the stanchions on the gantry. However, it went fairly seamlessly, and our team received positive feedback from the client.”


Tom added: “It was a pleasure to be involved in this rewarding project and be a part of the successful outcome, which will provide the client with ongoing cost and energy savings to help reduce the club’s carbon emissions. As a company, we have had a long-standing relationship with Hearts and wish them every success for the future.”




Images: Mike Wilkinson and Richard Campbell Commercial Photographers Network

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