Two heating experts with the same idea

Stronger but more compact – this was the goal that Lochinvar had in mind as it devel­oped a high-effi­ciency gas boiler and that ebm-papst had in mind while working on a two-megawatt gas blower. In the end, the part­ners combined these two projects that were made for each other, and the result was a hit.

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.

Perfect landing

“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.”

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