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issue: November 2003 APPLIANCE Magazine

Engineering: Comfort Conditioning (a web exclusive)
R&D at ZAC


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Zamil Air Conditioners' ambitious growth plan hinges on expanding its product lines. With a slew of new tools, ZAC engineers have a number of product and technology development efforts underway.

Learn more:

Zamil Air Conditioners is the largest independent air-conditioning producer in the Middle East. It produces and markets air-conditioners that range from room air-conditioners to package units to large-capacity air-conditioners for commercial and industrial applications. ZAC's primary manufacturing base is in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Its Clima Tech business unit has manufacturing in Austria and its Geoclima business manufactures in Italy.

The company has its own domestic and international brand names, and it produces air-conditioning equipment for a number of international HVAC companies.

In recent years, Zamil Air Conditioners embarked on an ambitious growth path. It expanding through three acquisitions made in Europe: Clima Tech, Geoclima, and Kessler Tech. The company's total annual production capacity:

  • 440,000 room air-conditioners
  • 60,000 mini-split systems
  • 36,500 central air-conditioning systems
In addition, the company is vigorously moving into newer markets, seeking strategic alliances - and investing heavily in R&D.

R&D Labs

In November and December of 2003, ZAC plans to commission two new testing labs. One is the Life Endurance and Design Qualification testing laboratory for consumer products.

The second new facility is a Chiller Testing Lab, designed by Intertek Testing Company, ETL-Semko of Courtland, NY, U.S.

Other improvements are planned following the opening of the two labs, including upgrades on ZAC's calorimetric facility.

The company is also investing in resources for designing and researching software, such as Pro-engineering (PTC), Intralink, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD ).

These investments enable the company to respond more quickly to present day problems - and to future customer requirements.

Engineering Developments: Consumer Products

ZAC recently developed a new ionizing filter for mini-split systems to enhance the air purifying and generate a higher level of negative ions, intended to increase air freshness and cleanliness.


Ionizing filter for mini-split systems.

A program that is now underway is developing technology to enable AC units to generate healthy levels of O2. This capability is designed for use in crowded rooms and in environments with high CO2 output.

Mini-split units also offer operational "mobility" capabilities, pioneered by the company two years ago.

"Now you can 'talk' to your unit via mobile telephones to switch them on/off, to set heat or cool mode, and to set right temperatures" explains Hashim Bunyan, Director of R&D at ZAC.

The company has dedicated substantial resources into improving its own coil technology, including the introduction of new fin patterns with extended area available for air to refrigerant heat transfer. Other new designs increase free cooling and thus reduce energy consumption and increase overall system efficiency.

New Scroll Technology

ZAC engineers, working with business partners, recently completed developing a new scroll technology. The goal is a to improve the overall efficiency of medium-sized refrigeration plants. The market launch of the system is scheduled for launch in late 2003.

Engineering Developments: Unitary & Applied Products

On higher range systems, such as packaged units and air-handlers, indoor air quality (IAQ) systems have been introduced in local and international markets. Most of the company's units are now equipped with:

  • economizers incorporating highly capable controls
  • CO2 monitors to activate fresh air in case of high CO2 presence
  • a UV light source to prevent bacterial growth inside the AC equipment

Achieving New Efficiency Levels

The company says it achieved substantial improvements in equipment Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) levels. This was achieved, in part, with combinations of scroll compressors and high-efficiency Zamil heat exchangers.


One of the company's energy efficiency successes is a screw-compressor chiller "Economiser" package. The system improves cooling capacity by 8-12 percent in the capacity range between 40-500 TR, and does so without consuming extra energy.

More Technology Initiatives

IAQ and energy efficiency are at core of ZAC research efforts, it says, but other initiatives are being pursued as well.

New microprocessor controls and a new generation of programmable logic controllers have been added to ZAC unitary units and large packaged plants. The new controllers are designed to make it easy to monitor and control the air-conditioning plants, even from remote locations. Some products allow units to be monitored using GSM technology or the Internet. GSM monitoring has been launched successfully in Europe, the company says, and will soon be launched in Saudi Arabia as well.

Refrigerant Use

In terms of environmentally friendly refrigerant use, the company produces R134a chillers and air-handling units. It has completed the design and testing of all consumer products up to 5 tons with R407C. This includes window, mini-split, and ducted split units with scroll compressors.

Compressors

ZAC is also a leader in the Middle East markets for rotary compressor units. This follows on the heels of a joint venture with Sanyo Compressors which 3 years ago developed what is said to be the first successful design of room air conditioners for tropical areas. The result of this innovation: rotary compressors now extend over a wider range of products and make them quieter, more efficient, and of lower cost to the end-user.

The telecommunication market has been a focus of company efforts, with the introduction of special vertical package units for the mobile industry in 3, 4, 5 ton capacities for both 60Hz market and 50Hz market. The units are equipped with standard and lead lag controllers.

Zamil Air Conditioners is clearly staging itself for continued growth, in its home country of Saudi Arabia and around the world. The company was the first company in Saudi Arabia to receive the Saudi Arabia's Standard Organization (SASO) certificate for room air-conditioners. Other ZAC certifications:

Air Conditioning Technology Center (ATC)

The centerpiece of ZAC's engineering development efforts is in its Air Conditioning Technology Center (ATC), built at a cost of U.S. $3 million. The 30,000 sq. ft facility is the only one of its kind in the Middle East. The ATC was built by Intertek Testing Services (ITS).

  • The ATC makes ZAC the only air-conditioner OEM in the region capable of testing products to local and international certifications. The center's capabilities include:
  • Ability to performance test consumer and commercial air-conditioners with capacities from 1/2 ton to 500 tons.
  • Support research and development initiatives through implementation of sophisticated computational programs.
  • Speed up product launches through digital and online processing of tests.
  • Assure local and international certification programs such as SASO, ARI, UL, AHAM, etc.
  • Enhance the reliability levels of components used in the company's products.

ZAC's in-house brands:

  • Classic
  • Cooline
  • CoolCare
  • Clima Tech
  • Geoclima
  • Kessler Clima Tech

Some of the OEM brands ZAC produces:
  • Luxaire
  • Sanyo
  • Admiral
  • Aftron
  • JC Air Conditioners
  • Trane
  • Frigidaire
  • Friedrich
  • Siemens/Bosch
  • Supra
  • Kenmore

GE MEAC (Middle East Air Conditioners) is a ZAC/GE joint venture that produces window, mini-split, and ducted-split air-conditioners under the brand names:

  • GE
  • Hotpoint
  • RCA


ZAMIL'S SUPPLIERS

Zamil says developing professional relationships with world-renowned suppliers is integral to its quality efforts. Some of its suppliers include:

 

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