Chillers - out of sight, but don't keep them out of mind

Réfrigérateurs - hors de la vue, mais ne les gardez pas hors de l'esprit

par Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | November 24, 2014
Motivair 250 ton free cooling
and heat recovery chillers
during installiation
From the November 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Are you willing to lose thousands of dollars through cancelled appointments and lost helium? According to Kenyon Smith, president of chiller manufacturer KR Products, that’s precisely the type of risk you take if you neglect your chillers. There isn’t much hands-on contact with chillers. They’re out of sight and if constructed and sited properly, they’re not even heard most of the time. Even the way they’re acquired may be a little bit of a mystery. Chillers are the unsung heroes of the equipment world.

Chiller origins
By-and-far, chiller sales are attached as package deals with big ticket equipment. “More than 85 percent of our work is with OEM customers,” says Kim Bernard, market manager for Dimplex Thermal Solutions. “The last 15 percent might be a mix between service contractors, architectural and engineering firms, replacement work and new chiller work.”

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Mark Bond, medical sales engineer at Filtrine Manufacturing, shares a similar experience. “Direct to hospitals isn’t as much as you might expect. Most of the jobs come through as a planned spec type of job where we work with an architect or engineer.” There are some exceptions, especially for smaller operations. “Of our business, about 90 percent, goes to doctor offices,” says KR Products’ Smith.

Martin King, president and CEO of Legacy Chiller Systems, Inc., says bundling the chiller with the equipment it serves seems to be dropping off a bit lately. “Since Obamacare, OEMs have been hit pretty heavily with the medical device tax. My theory is that when they include chillers in the package, they become part of that tax.”

Troubleshooting and avoiding trouble
If a chiller is properly installed, keeping it going and by extension, avoiding troubles with imaging equipment like CTs and especially MRs, is fairly straightforward. What it comes down to is regular maintenance.

“Mobile systems require a bit more maintenance since they’re subject to road wear and tear,” says Robert Bachman, president of Advanced Mobility Specialty Vehicles, a manufacturer of mobile units. “Still, with proper care, mobile chillers are built to last at least five to seven years, but really they’re lasting 10 to 12 years.”

Ronnie Taylor, president of service company SVSR Inc., says mobile systems can also bring another problem. “It’s not a bad idea for onsite staff to check the Russell Stoll connector to make sure there are no burnt pins,” he says. “If thlike a virus and it will burn the female connector everywhere they’re plugged in and that damage can cost thousands.”

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