© Lochinvar

One blower for three product lines

Dustin C. Wiggins and Jennifer Russell of water heating tech­nology  manu­fac­turer Lochinvar needed to make three product lines more effi­cient in record time. However, the gas blower required to do so didn’t yet exist. Well, unless you have strong part­ners!

Anyone who wants to build or main­tain a lead in a race some­times needs a burst of inten­sity. Jennifer Russell and Dustin C. Wiggins have provided this in the last two years. They are program managers for the water heating tech­nology expert Lochinvar. They were tasked with making three product lines of condensing boilers and water heaters even more effi­cient but they didn’t have a lot of time. The project got off the starting blocks at the begin­ning of 2018 and series produc­tion was to start in the spring of 2020.

A lot of power in a small space: The VG 145 gas blower helped Jennifer Russell complete her two boiler projects in a very short time. (Photo | Lochinvar)

It’s not for nothing that the company, which is based in Lebanon, Tennessee in the USA, has the motto: “No one brings it all together like Lochinvar.” Lochinvar knows that building a successful busi­ness is a marathon not a sprint. Over its hundred-year company history, the premium manu­fac­turer of water heating tech­nology solu­tions for commer­cial and resi­den­tial appli­ca­tions has repeat­edly succeeded in being one step ahead of the other market players with its inno­va­tions.

Increased power while main­taining the same size

Every­thing is a bit bigger in the USA compared with Europe. This applies equally to cars and build­ings. This means that gas condensing boilers and water heaters have to provide more power. At the same time, envi­ron­mental aware­ness among customers is increasing.

“Time was a very impor­tant factor. We really needed a partner that can keep up with us.”

Jennifer Russell, Program Manager at Lochinvar

They were in for a real chal­lenge. The prod­ucts (which are over­seen by both program managers) are used in commer­cial appli­ca­tions such as hotels and restau­rants. Wiggins says: “Every­thing depended on the blower. It was supposed to provide 20 percent more power, but without taking up more instal­la­tion space than the prede­cessor .” The next diffi­culty was that Lochinvar wanted a blower that would be suit­able for all three product lines and their models. This type of blower didn’t yet exist, though. Russell empha­sizes: “Time was a very impor­tant factor. We really needed a partner that can keep up with us.”

Partner for blower devel­op­ment

Dustin C. Wiggins’ task was to get more power out of the Shield water heater. But it couldn’t get any bigger as a result. (Photo | Lochinvar)

Lochinvar has been working with ebm-papst for many years. “Our prod­ucts start at an output of 16 kilo­watts and can reach up to two megawatts. There’s a bit of ebm-papst in all of them,” says Russell. The partner had there­fore been chosen, but the engi­neers in Land­shut still had to develop the blower. Even though they were thou­sands of kilo­me­ters apart, it felt to the two program managers as though the devel­opers were close by.

Wiggins explains: “The blower had to have such a flex­ible design that it can be used to equip multiple product fami­lies. This is not so easy when you consider that we use different mixing devices throughout them. However, from the very begin­ning, we were closely involved in devel­op­ment and received proto­types in a very early phase, meaning we could incor­po­rate our wishes.”

One of these wishes was for no rare-earth ­magnets to be used. They are expen­sive and the supply is not always reli­able. Lochinvar does not want to take this kind of risk. ebm-papst can help here, too. Thanks to EC tech­nology and the corre­sponding elec­tronics, it is possible to imple­ment powerful blower motors without relying on this resource.

 “Every­thing depended on the blower. It needed to provide 20 percent more power, without taking up
more space.”

Dustin C. Wiggins, Program Manager at Lochinvar

Russell remem­bers this very intense time: “Dustin’s office is right next to mine. We worked on the projects at the same time and repeat­edly bombarded ebm-papst with new require­ments. We always had the feeling that they under­stood us and we always received responses very quickly. Our processes were a good fit with one another.”

Flex­ible blower for tech­nical advan­tage

In the end, the two part­ners achieved what they wanted. The VG 145 blower designed for the US market was ready for oper­a­tion in spring 2020. Produc­tion began in May in Tennessee. Russell and Wiggins now have the oppor­tu­nity to catch their breath. The boilers and water heaters are now on the market and it looks as though the company will be able to main­tain the lead for a while that the two product managers have provided. Wiggins: “We will consider the VG 145 for future projects, because of its flex­i­bility.” 

Required fields: Comment, Name & Mail (Mail will not be published). Please also take note of our Privacy protection.