Lochinvar is always a step ahead when it comes to recognizing market requirements and developing the right products to meet them. So responding to the demand for more and more powerful yet compact gas boilers was at the top of the to-do list for Lochinvar, which is based in Lebanon, Tennessee U.S.A. and is the North American industry leader specializing in non-condensing and condensing boilers and water heaters. “We know our market very well and we know exactly what our customers want,” says V.P. Engineering and Manufacturing, Neil Rolph. “And our North American as well as the Chinese customers both focus on two requirements: Besides high heat output, for retrofits the most important thing is for the systems to fit through doorways and narrow passages.”
So expanding their Power-Fin series with a high-performance version was only logical for Lochinvar. Scheduled is a Power-Fin with 1.5 megawatts of heat output. In the initial stage of development, Lochinvar installed a blower with a third-party variable frequency drive. “But I wasn’t really happy with the solution,” admits Rolph. “Putting together the individual components would have been our job and we also weren’t quite satisfied with the performance data. So although the solution was immediately available I was looking for an alternative solution.”
Better beats good
Searching for a plan B, Rolph ended up talking with Tom Costello, Market Manager – Heating for ebm-papst Inc. located in Farmington, Connecticut U.S.A. “We’ve been in close cooperation for years. So it was logical to ask whether ebm-papst could develop a blower as powerful as we needed – and do it fast,” says Rolph. The conversation was a game-changer. ebm-papst also pays close attention to market requirements and was already working on a high-performance blower at the time.
“It was logical to ask whether ebm-papst could develop a blower as powerful as we needed – and do it fast.”
Neil Rolph, V.P. Engineering and Manufacturing at Lochinvar
Neil Rolph’s request for a presentation of the prototype at the ISH heating trade show in Frankfurt, Germany –shortly after the conversation with Costello – was feasible. Just in time for Rolph’s visit at the trade show, there was a working G3G315 ready to demonstrate in the so-called innovation room, a private presentation room within the trade show booth. The gas blower has a heating output up to two megawatts, making it exactly the missing link that Rolph needed for his Power-Fin.
Willing to take a risk?
Neil Rolph was enthusiastic. “Besides the enormous heat output and the compact size, what was really interesting was that with the G3G315 we would get a complete, integrated system from a single source. This solution is a lot easier for us to handle.” The trade show blower, painted in ebm-papst new product green, showed up in Lochinvar’s development facility shortly after the trade show. It did not quite meet Lochinvar’s performance requirement; however, there were 18 months to go until the planned launch of the new gas boiler in November 2016. But ebm-papst accepted the challenge and Lochinvar responded with a show of trust. “We were pleased that ebm-papst accepted the challenge, says Rolph.
Under high pressure
A project team of experts from ebm-papst Mulfingen and Landshut, Germany went to work. By September 2015 the specialists at Lochinvar were already able to take a closer look at stronger G3G315 blower at their facility in Lebanon, Tennessee, re-confirming their positive first impression to support so the project. Costello played a central role in communications, staying in close touch with Lochinvar, but the developers in Mulfingen and Landshut also kept the customer in Tennessee up to date all the time.
Work on the quiet and energy-efficient GreenTech EC motor in the new power centrifugal blower was done in Mulfingen, which also contributed the electronics. The aerodynamics and control specialists at ebm-papst Landshut optimized the impeller, side part, protective cap and housing made of die-cast aluminum. The blowers were assembled at ebm-papst’s production facility in Slovenia. From there the next three G3G315 units embarked on the journey across the Atlantic in December 2015.
“The cooperation was outstanding, with the contacts at the U.S. subsidiary and with the developers in Landshut and Mulfingen,” says Rolph enthusiastically. “We never had the feeling that there was anything to worry about.” And his trust was rewarded as 200 centrifugal blowers were ready to install in time for the launch of the Power-Fin high-efficiency gas boiler.
The first project for the high-efficiency gas boiler was a building complex in Las Vegas with 300,000 square meters of floor space. The total job will require 24 Power-Fin 5000 units, eight of which have replaced each of the three high-volume gas boilers that previously heated the complex. “Installing several independent gas boilers makes it much easier to control the heat output, which increases the efficiency. Our system’s efficiency is about twenty percent higher than that of the old boilers.” And the compact Power-Fins fit through any standard doorway.
For Neil Rolph, the project in Las Vegas was exciting, but it was just the beginning: “I see great potential for this heating solution, in both North America and China.”