Anyone looking for a traditional family-run company has found it with Philipp Kirsch GmbH. The company history dates back to 1865. Back then, Kirsch was the specialist for distillation equipment and later manufacturer of counters and restaurant equipment. At some point, the refrigerators were added – they remained and developed into the cornerstone of the company. Even if they do have a completely different task: Instead of beer and lemonade, it is now medicine, vaccines and blood plasma that are stored in refrigerators at temperatures ranging from plus five to minus 41 degrees Celsius. And the international customers are not restaurants and pubs, but pharmacies, laboratories, medical practices, blood banks or hospitals.
The company employs 80 people in Willstätt-Sand, north of Offenburg in Baden-Württemberg. Gerhard Müller is Head of Development and Design there and has been at Kirsch for 29 years. He explains: “Medicines are stored at five degrees Celsius, while blood requires four degrees Celsius. For blood plasma, the temperature is constant at -32 degrees Celsius, while users can set the temperature within a certain range for other applications.”
The Kirsch devices are also used to store the coronavirus vaccines depending on the required temperature range. There is a correspondingly high demand at the moment, says Müller.
Maximum flexibility thanks to in-house production
Kirsch’s vertical integration is also high: “We produce everything ourselves – from sheet metal to finished cabinet. Here in Willstätt, we have our own sheet metal production, powder coating, foaming facility and final assembly,” says Müller. “This makes us extremely flexible and means that we can adapt details quickly and individually for our customers.”
We produce everything ourselves – from sheet metal to finished cabinet.
Gerhard Müller, Head of Development and Design at Kirsch
An additional temperature sensor inside or larger ducts for suction system hoses? This type of adjustment is no problem for the Kirsch team. Customers also have the choice when it comes to interior fittings: Wire grids, drawers made from stainless steel, aluminum or plastic – many things are possible. Explosion-proof versions are also available. In the refrigeration and electronics development sectors, the company works together with partner companies. “Our devices are ‘Made in Germany’, which is why it is essential for our suppliers to come from Germany and, if possible, even be based here in the region,” emphasizes the Head of Development.
Reliable partner on site
This also applies to the fans for the refrigerators and freezers. These have been sourced from ebm-papst for many years. For Müller, the benefits are obvious: “We have been working with ebm-papst for a long time. In the beginning, we had the roller fans. Today we use the manufacturer’s DC axial compact fans. ebm-papst is almost right on our doorstep here in St. Georgen, which makes it easier to work together.” The short distances and individual support continue to be very satisfying. “If we need to know whether an axial compact fan with a standard range of up to minus 20 degrees Celsius can also be used at up to 30 degrees Celsius, ebm-papst performs extra tests for us. That’s great because we’re not left on our own. An this is even though we don’t have huge quantities,” says Müller. One or two fans are installed in the freezers and refrigerators, depending on their size.
Little space, lots of power
The most important criterion for the use of axial compact fans in the recirculation devices: They are compact and powerful. Gerhard Müller explains: “The fans are installed in the air duct and this is very limited in terms of space.” The compact dimensions and the required power are the greatest challenges. If the fan used is too small, it quickly lacks the necessary power. The balancing act is achieved by the S-Panther fans from ebm-papst: “Our smallest cabinet is 80 liters, the largest 720 liters. In smaller models, we use DC axial compact fans with outer dimensions of 80 x 80 millimeters, for the larger models they are 120 x 120 millimeters.” The flat design of the fans makes integration easier.
Powerful and quiet
The ebm-papst fans used ensure that the air circulates evenly in the refrigerator. They achieve an air flow rate of up to 205 m3/h. “We have very small temperature differences in the interior. This is what makes our refrigerators and freezers stand out,” says Müller. “The more performance, the more noise is generated.” This is problematic as the refrigerators are often found in medical practices or nurses’ rooms. It is very disturbing if the fan constantly makes noises there. “The freezers used to be in a separate room, so it didn’t matter how loud the units were.
The fan often doesn’t have to be much quieter at all. Instead, our optimization involves changing the noise so that it is perceived to be more pleasant.
Gerhard Müller, Head of Development and Design at Kirsch
Today the laboratory staff often work at a desk directly next to them, so it’s extremely important that our device makes as little noise as possible,” says Müller. The DC compact fans with a thermal signal help with this. “With these DC fans, we can vary the speed and thus influence noise generation.” Here, noise does not necessarily mean that the fan is very loud. Sometimes it comes down to nuances: “The fan often doesn’t have to be much quieter at all. Instead, our optimization involves changing the noise so that it is perceived to be more pleasant,” he says.
Of course, reliability also plays a major role when storing medicines, vaccines or blood plasma. As well as reliable components, corresponding monitoring and documentation are therefore also required. “We have software for this purpose that runs server-based in the background and monitors, records and sends alarm messages in the event of faults,” says Müller. The DC axial compact fans help with this, as they are speed monitored. If they do not reach the required constant speed, they automatically trigger an alarm.
Gerhard Müller and his team currently have their hands full, as the refrigerators and freezers are in demand: Pharmacies and medical practices have to store more vaccines and laboratories are also adding equipment. The experienced Head of Development manager remains relaxed, after all he has the production in-house and the suppliers on site.