Contractors Hands-On at Expo
May 9, 2011
Changing chiller technology requires contractors to be aware of what’s new and often times well in advance of when that technology might reach the marketplace.
In Las Vegas, where some 1,900 exhibitors showed products and services during the International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo), a large number among the 34,000 attendees were contractors - and, a lot of them were looking for chillers.
Typically, a salesperson might be the first contact for a contractor, and, arrayed with printed materials, videos, and the support of technical personnel, can bring contractors, as well as consulting engineers and end users, up-to-speed on the latest.
Information provided to customers by a salesperson is usually enough to close the deal. In fact, according to Ray Good, director of product management for McQuay International, that could be enough in 95 percent of the cases.
But what about those times in which a contractor (or engineer or end user) just has to have a first hand look at the equipment? Major industry trade shows, like the AHR Expo provide yet another place to go for first-hand, hands-on viewing of the latest products.
McQuay was among those exhibitors with a wide array of new products for those contractors and others passing by. Booth visitors could see products up close and talk shop.
CONTRACTOR REVIEWAnd just to make it a bit closer up - and to lay the groundwork for additional promotions of the new products - The NEWS worked with McQuay to draw a select group of contractors into the booth late one afternoon to perform a product tour and review, and then videotape the proceedings for future use.
For the contractors, Good, and his colleague Keith Glasch, vice president, national account sales for McQuay, conducted the tour in the booth and noted one of the featured technologies was a 700-ton Daikin McQuay Magnitude™ centrifugal chiller. It uses an oil-free, magnetic bearings approach. According to the company, the new model is an extension of the company’s line of energy efficient chillers, branded Magnitude. The chiller was described as for use in universities, hospitals, manufacturing facilities, and data centers.
As noted during the presentation to the five contractors who reviewed the product, the chiller with high efficiency, sustainable performance, and low sound levels, has been installed in thousands of locations throughout the world. The presenters said the chiller helps owners reduce energy and operating costs, create a comfortable environment and meet requirements for sustainable design, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification criteria.
Good told his audience, “The larger 700-ton units are a natural evolution of magnetic bearing compressor technology and makes the benefits of this technology available to a larger range of applications. This oil-free technology increases reliability and reduces maintenance because there are no conventional bearings and hence no oil management system and associated maintenance costs. In a typical chiller, oil builds up in the evaporator, reducing energy efficiency up to 15 percent. As a result of its higher sustainable operating efficiency and reduced maintenance, the Magnitude chiller delivers a lower cost of ownership compared to conventional centrifugal chillers.”
He reiterated main points about positive pressure, oil-free design. “The Magnitude chiller is sustainable through its operating life because there’s no oil to contaminate the refrigerant and degrade system efficiency.”
PROMOTING A REVOLUTIONThe revolutionary technology was another reason for the high profile at the expo and the extra special attention to contractors. “We really try to make certain when contractors stop by [our booth] that they see us as innovators,” said Good. “We also want to build a higher level of recognition.”
Contractors invited to review the Magnitude chiller were asked to provide candid evaluations of the product. Glasch told the contractors, “We’re looking for what is good about the product, and what’s not good about it, from your point of view.”
Chris Carr of Brandt Engineering, Dallas, said, “I think the new 700-ton chiller is really going to change the game. I was surprised by its size, compared to what we usually expect for a similar sized chiller.”
Greg Crumpton, Air Tight, Charlotte, N.C., said, “There is a lot of emphasis on serviceability and the size of the unit, being able to use it more easily in a retrofit application. The magnetic bearing technology is a great feature.”
Regarding the Magnitude, Good said, “The question raised by contractors sometimes is, ‘How often does it fail?’ In that case we can point out the high reliability.”
Ellis Guiles, Jr. of TAG Mechanical in Syracuse, N.Y., said, “I think it looked pretty impressive … it seems like it has a lot of interesting new features. I’d like to spend a lot more time with my McQuay rep. It would seem to maybe even be a little bit better than a couple of the competitors who are out there pushing high end chillers.”
Also comparisons can be made with more traditional oil-based compressors and the higher costs can be addressed with payback statistics, he said.
When it comes to a high profile for new equipment, Good said the purpose is to draw attention to cost containment, energy efficiency and environmental awareness.
“Manufacturers develop new technology to reduce energy consumption and for improved reliability,” he said.
SOMETHING NEWIt was in that context that McQuay International also introduced, for example, the AGZ-D family of air cooled scroll chillers available in 25-190 ton capacity for use in small to mid-sized building retrofits and new construction applications.
“The AGZ-D Series of air cooled scroll chillers continues McQuay’s legacy and commitment toward using the latest technology to provide building owners with quiet, high-quality and energy efficient chillers that enable comfort,” said Eddie Rodriguez, McQuay chiller product manager.
AHR attendees could see the compact unit footprint that was promoted as allowing for savings on installation space as well as cost. There is a reduced operational clearance requirement to as little as four feet between multiple units and are available in standard North American voltages as well as 400/50Hz and 380/60Hz.
Regarding new products, there may not be anything quite as good as a knowledgeable salesperson, but being able to kick the tires at the AHR Expo certainly helped contractors who were interested in new chiller technology. For those who couldn’t walk the aisles, there might be similar equipment already installed nearby for which a visit can be arranged. Or, manufacturers are more than willing to welcome decision makers to the factory for a tour and a chance to talk with the tech folks. Another option, such as offered by McQuay, is a traveling roadshow in which a semi-trailer truck brings some of the newest products to various locations around the country.
Publication date: 05/09/2011