© Photo | ebm-papst

More fans, fewer prob­lems

Ten small fans instead of one big one: That’s the secret behind ebm-papst’s first FanGrid project in India, which is helping a shop­ping centre save over 20 percent on energy for the air condi­tioning in its food court

Pizza, dough­nuts, curries or ice cream? Guests who get hungry while shop­ping at the Forum Vijaya Mall in Chennai, India, have a wide range of choices in the huge mall’s food court. But no matter which dish they decide on, they can enjoy it in a comfort­ably air-condi­tioned room, thanks in part to ebm-papst India, which carried out India’s first FanGrid project in coop­er­a­tion with air-condi­tioning special­ists ETA. But until the project’s comple­tion, Ramesh Swami­nathan, general manager (sales & marketing) at ebm-papst India, had a lot of persuading to do.


Dining after shop­ping: Guests can fortify in the well tempered food court of the mall

“It all began when ETA got an order from the oper­ator to equip the Forum Vijaya Mall in Chennai with a complete air-condi­tioning system,” recalled Swami­nathan. Since ETA had already been working success­fully with ebm-papst India for several years, it contacted Swami­nathan to request a proposal for air-condi­tioning the food court. “The mall’s dining area accom­mo­dates 21 restau­rants with seating for 850 people. Given these figures, the air condi­tioning system has to trans­port 60,000 cubic metres of air per hour at 900 Pascals,” explained Wahab Jain­u­la­bideen, deputy general manager for oper­a­tions at ETA. To date, such tasks have usually been performed in India with a single large, belt-driven fan. “But that has a few disad­van­tages,” said Swami­nathan. “Installing the fan is very time-consuming, its energy effi­ciency leaves a lot to be desired, and if it fails the entire air condi­tioner is out of service.”

And then there were ten

To avoid these disad­van­tages, he proposed a different solu­tion to ETA: a FanGrid with ten RadiPac EC fans arranged in parallel – a solu­tion unprece­dented in India. Even for the customers from ETA, who are open to inno­va­tion, it required some persua­sion. “In this project, the customer took two steps at once with us: switching from a belt-driven to a directly driven EC fan, and from a single fan to ten fans working as a single unit.”

Less space, more energy effi­ciency


Discus­sion at lunchtime: Kand­haswamy Jayaram Venkatesh and Ramesh Swami­nathan from ebm-papst talking with Wahab Jain­u­la­bideen and Prem Kumar from ETA (from left)

Two steps that ETA was quite prepared to take. “We’re always looking for new solu­tions. The main things that make the FanGrid so convincing are its energy effi­ciency, its compact­ness and the redun­dancy offered by ten fans instead of one,” said Wahab Jain­u­la­bideen. If one of the fans fails, the other nine ensure that the system continues to operate. The space needed is up to 40 percent less than that required for conven­tional AHUs. In addi­tion, the energy consump­tion of the ten EC fans is around 20 percent less than that of a single belt-driven fan of the kind required for a system of this size. After the initial consul­ta­tions, ebm-papst made an offer for the job. The reac­tion was different than expected, as ETA had received lower offers from competi­tors. “That was a big surprise for us as we had turned in a well-calcu­lated offer,” recalled Ramesh Swami­nathan. Thanks to the good rela­tion­ship with ETA he was able to compare at the offers and quickly realised that they were not nearly as compre­hen­sive as the one from ebm-papst. “It was an apples-and-oranges compar­ison since competi­tors only made an offer for the fans. But our offer included the entire system. Once this differ­ence was taken into account, our offer was more than a match for it.”

An invest­ment that pays off

But still the price was higher than the amount ETA would have had to pay for a single belt-driven fan. “Of course ten fans cost more than one,” said Ramesh Swami­nathan. “But if you also look at the oper­ating costs, it quickly becomes clear that this invest­ment already pays off after two years.” For the installer, further savings result from the easier instal­la­tion and the elim­i­na­tion of main­te­nance costs for the EC fans. ETA was completely convinced by these argu­ments and awarded the project to ebm-papst, and Ramesh Swami­nathan and his colleagues saw the project through from the design phase to the instal­la­tion of the fans.


The Forum Vijaya Mall in Chennai has more than 100 shops under its roof

The synchro­ni­sa­tion of the ten Radi­Pacs turned out to be a tech­nical chal­lenge for ETA. “For a solu­tion with one fan, of course you don’t need a controller,” said Swami­nathan. “With ten fans, things are different. They have to be synchro­nised with one another by a controller to deliver their full perfor­mance.” To ensure a trouble-free instal­la­tion, he supported ETA with the search for a specialist for the controller. “The profes­sion­alism and coop­er­a­tion made the project with ebm-papst very pleasant, and were just as impor­tant to us as the high effi­ciency and reli­a­bility of the prod­ucts,” said Wahab Jain­u­la­bideen. Ramesh Swami­nathan is confi­dent that more customers will show interest in FanGrids after this successful project. “The condi­tions for them are good in our country. India is a very progres­sive market for energy-effi­cient solu­tions. Today over 65 percent of the prod­ucts we sell are EC fans and motors. The main reason for this devel­op­ment is the exploding energy costs, so solu­tions like this one will be in increasing demand in future.”

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

  • DrD on said:

    Can I see the front of the fan array.
    How many fans total?
    What was the overall flowrate and pres­sure rise.


    • klindner on said:

      Dear Peter,

      Thank you for your comment. We have forwarded your request to our market manage­ment, they will get in touch with you.

      Your mag°-Team