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issue: January 2004 APPLIANCE European Edition

On Location
IKK Hannover 2003


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by Paul Roggema, European Correspondent

ON LOCATION: APPLIANCE magazine traveled to Hannover, Germany to report on IKK 2003.

Rapporto sull'edizione 2003 dell'IKK

Anche quest'anno, la rivista APPLIANCE si è recata ad Hannover, in Germania, per assistere all'edizione 2003 dell'IKK, la Fiera Internazionale dedicata ai prodotti della refrigerazione, del condizionamento dell'aria e della ventilazione.

Nel corso della fiera sono stati esaminati molti nuovi sviluppi del settore ed in particolare il contenuto della proposta del Parlamento Europeo e del Consiglio d'Europa relativa alle emissioni di alcuni gas serra fluorurati pubblicata lo scorso agosto. Tra gli altri argomenti, sono stati esaminati anche il rapporto sul mercato del condizionamento dell'aria tedesco; la fusione della Electrolux Compressors nella nuova società denominata Appliance Component Companies (ACC); le ultime novità di Danfoss, Embraco e Airwell; e la crescente diffusione di prodotti con inverter multi-split.

 

Rapport sur l'IKK 2003

Le magazine APPLIANCE s'est rendu à Hanovre, en Allemagne afin de rédiger un article sur l'IKK 2003, la Foire Internationale de la Réfrigération, Climatisation et Ventilation.

Lors de cette manifestation, plusieurs thèmes ont été évoqués dont notamment la publication de la proposition du Parlement européen et d'une « Council Regulation » relatives à certains gaz de serre fluorés au mois d'août 2003. Ou encore un rapport sur le marché de la climatisation allemand, la fusion des Compresseurs Electrolux en une société nouvellement constituée, Appliance Component Companies (ACC), les changements instaurés à Danfoss, Embraco, et Airwell, ainsi que la croissance des lignes de produits d'inverseurs à dérivations multiples.

 

Bericht zur IKK 2003:

Die Zeitschrift APPLIANCE reiste nach Hannover (Deutschland), um über die IKK 2003, die internationale Fachmesse für Kälte, Klima und Lüftung, zu berichten.

Auf der Messe wurden zahlreiche Marktentwicklungen besprochen, vor allem die Veröffentlichung des Richtlinien-Vorschlages zu fluorierten Treibhausgasen im Europäischen Parlament im August 2003. Andere Themen waren ein Bericht zum deutschen Klimaanlagenmarkt, die Fusion von Electrolux Compressors in sein neu gebildetes Unternehmen, Appliance Component Companies (ACC), Entwicklungen bei Danfoss, Embraco und Airwell sowie das Wachstum von Multi-Split-Inverter-Produktlinien.

 

The Hannover Fairgrounds hosted the 24th IKK exhibition, the International Trade Fair for Refrigeration, Air-Conditioning and Ventilation, on Oct. 8-10, 2003.

In comparison to ISH - the Frankfurt, Germany-based HVAC/R fair that also covers sanitation - IKK is a smaller trade show that focuses on commercial refrigeration and ventilation. But while this year's IKK occupied only four halls of the Hannover Fairgrounds, many suppliers of compressors, refrigerants, and cabinets were present.

This year was the second time IKK was held in Hannover. It used to be in Nürnberg, in the south of Germany, but now the two cities will host the event intermittently. There has also been discussion about the show's annual cycle: some companies, such as Carrier, only attend every 2 years. But IKK feels that the innovation cycle in the industry needs to be an annual platform. Also, because IKK is designed for customer dialogue and industry networking and does not focus on "grand exhibition presentation" and new product introductions, the event is relatively low-cost and low-key, at least compared to Frankfurt's large-scale ISH. For example, the show organizers offer a low-cost rental exhibition stand as part of the basic stand rental cost; two-story stand construction has been banned; and stand height has been limited to a 4.5-m maximum.

Another argument in favor of the annual cycle is the "vacuum" that would be created by a 2-year cycle: another industry event would immediately fill this gap.

Green Issues

Several market developments were discussed at the fair, but one of the most important issues was the recent (August 2003) publication of a proposal from the European Parliament and Council on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases. With this, the EU states are on the way to reducing the use and controlling the marketing of the greenhouse gases listed after the acceptance of the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. This means that new challenges are in store for manufacturers, plant assemblers, and operators.

The Kyoto Protocol commits the European Community to cut its emissions by 8 percent in the first obligatory period (2008 to 2012); this means a total reduction equivalent to 336 million tons of carbon dioxide.

Important elements of the EU proposal are measures against leaks (prevention, inspection, leak detection systems, etc.), recovery from existing circuits, personnel training and certification, and reporting the use of fluorinated gases to the Commission.

The ban on the use of fluorinated gas in car air-conditioning (HFC-134a) could be the most controversial issue of the regulation. There is a flexible system planned for a gradual phase-out from 2009 onwards, with a financial penalty set at the end of the phase-out period.

A fresh and simple approach was chosen by the Association of European Refrigeration Compressor and Controls Manufacturers (ASERCOM). The Association emphasized that 14 percent of total electrical power consumption in Germany is for cooling and refrigeration purposes, and that reduction of energy consumption is just as important as using the right refrigerants. Therefore, the organization has an Energy Efficiency Award (worth 10,000 euro), which was rewarded to three cooperating European companies - Thermetica of the UK, Dehon Service of France, and Mergl Engineering of Germany - that have developed a more efficient method of achieving peak cooling capacity in an agriculture setting, using ice slurry.

This "Thermal Storage Technology" generates the ice slurry not at heat exchanger surfaces, but in the fluid of the storage tank itself. For this purpose, a special, non-water miscible cold liquid flows through the storage tank as transport fluid for the latent heat of ice generation to be cooled back by the refrigeration system. The I-storm solution, based on this technology, enables peak energy loads for cooling to be shifted to off-peak times and has major advantages for air-conditioning and other cooling loads. It is used for cooling milk on farms, where high peak loads are required.

 


One of the recent trends in air-conditioning is designing stylish room units. Pictured is Daikin's Your Style indoor unit.
Other market developments at the fair included a report on the German air-conditioning market. Unlike some appliance markets, it is reporting healthy growth during recent years. The especially hot 2003 summer contributed to this trend. Market growth in units is estimated at 15 percent for 2003.

Driving this growth (other than the Europe's sweltering weather) are improvements in efficiency (lower-running costs), purchase prices, and convenience aspects such as sound level reductions. Many Europeans used to have a negative attitude against air-conditioning, but since the car industry managed to make air-conditioning almost a standard feature, attitudes have been changing. The German customers, well known for their high demands regarding comfort, seem to appreciate the low noise levels and better performance of inverter systems and are willing to pay the price.

Inverter Designs

Another trend seen at the show is further development of multi-split inverter product lines, such as the new outdoor units from LG Electronics, which can drive up to six indoor units, with a 13-KW max capacity.

 

Air-conditioning company Tadiran Appliances LTD traveled from Israel to exhibit at IKK 2003, held in Hannover, Germany.
LG's stylish indoor units also stood out at the fair, including its Art Cool units, which come in blue, silver, and wood finishes. Even a mirrored surface is available, and the remote control was even redesigned. The company also offers a Wide Art Cool line with higher capacities.

Daikin, a pioneer of inverter systems, proudly stated that inverter systems counted for almost 90 percent of split-system sales. Current German laws required the switch to R407C, and Daikin claims to be the first manufacturer to offer a full spectrum of R407C products. Still, the next preferred step is the switch to R410A due to its better performance and smaller components.

Daikin's VRV2 product line is fully redesigned to work with the higher pressures of R410A and has so far proved its success in the marketplace since its introduction in 2003. In June, European production of VRV2 products started in Belgium. There are now three product lines - Siesta (domestic, small office), Professional, and Your Style (Daikin's design line).

Daikin claims that multi-split is "a Daikin domain." The company offers a wide range of multi-split products, including seven different indoor units and outdoor units in nine capacities, four of which can reverse the cycle and serve as a room heater.

Electrolux Compressors Merges Into ACC

Although its exhibit was clearly marked Electrolux Compressors, the exhibitor was Appliance Component Companies (ACC), the new company formed out of (amongst others) Electrolux Compressors. Mike Deaton, area manager of North America, told APPLIANCE: "As Electrolux decided its core business was appliances, it transferred its motors (for wet products) to the new company ACC (in 2002). In 2003, the Compressor Group joined ACC, composed by the fully owned companies Zanussi Electtromeccanica SpA. (Italy), Verdichter Oe. GmbH (Austria), Unidad Hermetica and Cubigel S.A. (Spain), and the joint ventures Zanussi Elettromeccanica Tianjin Compressor Co., Ltd (China) and Shanghai Zanussi Electtomeccanica Co., Ltd (China)."

ACC's staff totals approximately 6,000 employees, with five compressor and three motor factories in Europe and China. "In commercial compressors, we work worldwide; in household, the focus is on Europe and the U.S. Of course, with this inheritance, we still are the largest supplier for Electrolux," Mr. Deaton said.

He also commented on the ongoing energy efficiency trend in the compressor business. "Customers expect improvements almost every year. Sometimes they are forced; in many markets government regulations drive improvements," Mr. Deaton said. "In use of refrigerants, there are severe differences. In Europe, R600a is widely used. It is isobutane and flammable, but highly efficient. In the U.S., they use the non-flammable R134a. It is a hydrocarbon, but not as efficient. Commercial customers often use R404a when higher capacities are required."

One of ACC's newest products is the GD30FDC, a new model for the recreational market. With a 12-V d.c. motor and a built-in transformer, it can reportedly be used in many different environments. It can also run on solar energy sources.

The company's new X-line of household compressors replaces the K-line and offers a 10-percent efficiency improvement. According to Mr. Deaton, new motor technology and lighter and stronger pump parts has allowed for less friction and lower sound levels.

Also, a modular design for commercial markets can be found in the company's CGL range. These condensing units allow all components to be selected separately. ACC has also designed the valves on the front side of the units for easy maintenance.

Mr. Deaton noted that while CO2 is clearly the direction many developers are looking into for the future, there are many problems to be solved. "The energy efficiency and the price levels leave much to be desired," he said. "An innovation already on the market is our car air-conditioning maintenance unit. A special heavy-duty compressor (type RL90) is used to recover refrigerants from car air-conditioners. No other compressor has been designed to work under these heavy conditions."

Embraco

Considered the largest compressor manufacturer in the world, Brazil-based Embraco employs about 9,000 people in factories located in Brazil, China, Italy, and Slovakia. Total production is estimated at 24 million units. Embraco started in business in the 1970s, but quick expansion in the 1990s brought the company to its current size.

 

An eye catcher at Embraco's IKK stand was a transparent version of its top model variable-speed VCC compressor.
"Remember that we started with a Danfoss design, long ago, and now we are the market leader," Erivan Piazera, global market manager of Commercial Refrigeration told APPLIANCE. "Our global market share is about 25 percent, but varies across the continents. In Latin America it is 79 percent, in the U.S. 50 percent, and in Europe 35 percent. The Asian market is more difficult for us."

Mr. Piazera noted that, currently, Embraco is focusing on helping OEMs improve energy efficiency. "In the general trend of improving efficiency, manufacturers always look at their compressor supplier at first. So we really feel the pressure on this theme," he explained. "But we cannot do the job alone: many improvements must be made in the general design of the appliance. So we do offer advice on system design. Even if a large customer has all the design expertise in-house, they might call us just to speed up the design process. For many smaller manufacturers of light-commercial appliances, we do a lot of consulting business. We are qualified also. For instance, we are certified by Coca-Cola as an official test site for vending machines."

Embraco also wants to develop its product range, as it was mainly in the domestic market. Now the company is supplying commercial compressors to U.S. company Bristol. When Bristol decided to focus on their air-conditioning business, Embraco took up production of their commercial compressor product line under the Embraco Aspera brand name. The compressor line uses 404a, and the power range is 1 to 3 hp.

The company has also improved some of their existing product lines. Embraco's NJ compressor line is an evolution of the J line. The shell is redesigned with new suspension, a new muffler, and new discharge tubing. Noise is reduced to 5 dB, and vibration is down 30 percent. Capacity is 1.5 hp max. The NEK series (1.3 to 1.8 hp) replaces the NE series. The new series features an efficiency increase of 5 percent, a noise improvement of 7 dB, and vibration reduction of 22 percent.

"A top product is our VCC (Variable Capacity Compressor). Through the use of an electronic control unit, it can vary compressor motor speed, and thus the cooling capacity, from 50 percent to 150 percent," Mr. Piazera said. "Similar to the inverter technology used in air-conditioning, a VCC is more efficient and performs better. The capacity control can be done through a serial communication interface (full duplex), through a (one-way) variable digital frequency signal, or using the Drop In mode. This feature allows the control system to interpret an on-off signal from a classic thermostat, so the refrigerator manufacturer can use our VCC compressor without changing the design of the refrigerator cabinet or introduce electronic thermostats. The newest VCC3 has a more compact electronic unit, which is noise-free (no relay)."

Embraco believes that VCC technology is promising because it can offer energy savings up to 35 percent. "Market share of the segment is still small, but it is an emerging product," Mr. Piazera said. "Improvements are needed regarding the price level. We are also working in adapting VCC for light-commercial use, with different sized control units."

Embraco also sees potential in the CO2 segment, but notes that there are still some problems with the technology. As an example, Mr. Piazera said that efficiency at low temperature levels is still not good enough. "The set-up of the appliance needs a total new design, as working pressures and temperatures are totally different," Mr. Piazera noted. "Of course we will continue our research, as this is one of the alternative technologies to current refrigerants.

"In the long term, you will see changes in the size and the operating ranges of our compressor platforms," he added. "With improved efficiency, larger platforms are cannibalized by higher performing, smaller siblings."

Danfoss: Leader in CO2

 

Danish compressor maker Danfoss was the only exhibitor to show actual CO2 products at IKK 2003. Pictured is the company's bright yellow test model.


Danfoss is Denmark's largest industrial group with about 17,000 employees. Its division for domestic compressors is called Danfoss Compressors (there is also Danfoss Commercial Compressors) and is located in Flensburg, Germany, but also manufactures in Slovenia, Slovakia, and Mexico. The general European public only knows Danfoss for its room thermostats and radiator valves, although both products are actually a small part of the portfolio. For example, many BSH (Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH) products are equipped with Danfoss compressors. Production is about 13 million compressors yearly.

Danfoss clearly stole the show with its bright yellow CO2 compressor, located right in the middle of the stand. "We are really proud to present (for the first time) an actually working CO2 compressor," said Jürgen Süss, manager, Central Compressor R&D. "Of course, this is a test product. Next year we will set up a production line, which [will have] a max capacity of 50,000, to be reached in a few years, depending on market resonance. The compressor is so far available in three capacities, and our customers are testing the product. As main design aspects are clear now, these tests mainly focus on long-term reliability."

As refrigeration engineers know, CO2 works at much higher pressures; volumetric cooling capacity is about nine times higher than current gases, so only 2.5 cm3 of compressor stroke volume is needed, down from 20 cm3 previously. Current applications include heat pumps and vending machines.

"A breakthrough for CO2 will only be when the energy efficiency as well as costs will be competitive," Mr. Süss explained. "We already proved that efficiency is on par, but the cost price issue is not solved yet. Remember that all parties involved must completely change their current designs. At the fair, we found a lot of demand for information on the CO2 issue; our brochure was out-of-stock very quickly, and we had to go to the [photo]copy shop for reprints."

Despite the success at IKK and the great interest from political and environmental groups in general, Danfoss warns against seeing this experimental breakthrough as a total change of conditions. CO2 cannot just be used anywhere - despite strong wishes to replace other refrigerants.

Airwell

Airwell, an air-conditioning manufacturer, is one of the market leaders in France. The company is called the ECP group, and it has a staff of about 4,000 with plants in France (2), Italy, Israel, and China, as well as an electronics assembly facility in Hong Kong. Its European headquarters is located near Paris. The mother company is Israel-based Electra - a unique aspect in today's air-conditioning market, where most European air-conditioning businesses are either Asian or American. The company's primary markets are Europe and Israel, with a focus on domestic air-conditioning.

 


German manufacturer NASH offers advanced rooftop units containing all air treatment functions, including a building control system.
New products include its variable capacity multi-split systems. Using d.c. inverter technology, the DUO, TRIO, and QUATTRO offer up to 8 kWh capacity. For advanced system control, the third generation of AircoNet Gateway is available. Using a gateway, all functions can be controlled through a Web browser. Now, all Airwell appliances can be connected.

An important new product for Airwell is a niche product, the IPOC, which stands for Intelligent Pre-assembled Outdoor and Customized. These are unique systems that look like conventional rooftop units, but can contain many more functions (heating, heat regaining, and humidity control) and are fully customized before installation. IPOC does have its own Building Management System, based on LON networking technology. Capacity ranges from 10,000 to 100,000 m3 air, and units can weigh up to 15 tons with prices ranging from 50,000 to 200,000 euros per unit.

Airwell entered the large systems market by taking over the German manufacturer of IPOC, the NASH Company. This take-over is an interesting piece of industrial history. Mr. Michel Roffé-Vidal, now manager of the NASH division explained: "After working for many years in the air-conditioning business for companies [such] as Lennox, I decided to start my own company (about 20 years ago), and I developed the IPOC concept. From my experience, I knew there would be a market for a fully equipped rooftop air-conditioning unit. The consulting engineers tell us the requirements, we assemble the unit and final installation is a snap."

He continued: "During recent years we realized that further growth would be difficult and that we needed a bigger partner. We met with the people from ACE and its Israeli owners, and all aspects lined up quickly. Now, we think that expanding to 200-300 units per year is possible."

Same Time, Different City

In the closing message, organizers were satisfied with the fair. Despite the economic situation, attendance was almost the same (20,600) compared to 2 years ago. This in a time where capital goods exhibitions all over the world are registering substantial drops in the number of visitors. According to IKK organizers, the "convincing benefit-cost ratio" of IKK is still a major factor in attendance.

As always, shows surveys revealed some interesting trends: 88 percent of exhibitors stated they made new business contacts, and every third exhibitor received a direct order, although the acquisition of direct orders was not a priority for many exhibitors. More than 90 nations met at the industry event in Hannover, accounting for around half of the total number of visitors. Additionally, among international exhibitors, Italy lead the pack with 132 companies, followed by China, who had 62 exhibiting companies - a possible indication of China's upcoming role in the world economy.

IKK 2004 is scheduled for Oct. 13-15, 2004 in Nürnberg, Germany.

 

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