18 August 2020
Peter Woods is Wolseley Climate’s Technical Sales Manager and go-to person for all things refrigeration.
A self-confessed “fridge man through and through”, despite being strategic lead for refrigeration solutions, Peter Woods still loves to get his hands dirty.
Having trained as an electrical engineer and starting his career at Colt International in Fareham as a design draftsman, Woods worked his way up from the shop floor before completing an HNC in mechatronics. It was there he also got involved with fan coils and ventilation during a project for offshore vents and special kit on the atrium of London’s Canary Wharf.
His first real foray into refrigeration was when he moved to a company called Temperature Limited as a mechanical engineer, where he developed Versatemp reverse cycle heat pumps for hotels and businesses. He then held engineering jobs at Kelvion Searle and Russell before deciding his role needed to take a more sales-led route. After spending time with Alfa Laval and Rivacold as a sales engineer and technical manager, he was headhunted by Wolseley Climate in 2014.
The best solution every time
Woods is responsible for the day-to-day running of Wolseley Climate’s custom build facility in Newbury, which provides bespoke solutions for blast freezers and blast chillers, cold rooms, scroll packs and condensing units, as well as water-cooled condensing units.
“I provide all of the technical support within the facility and look after the regional technical engineers. I manage everything from supporting the regional sales engineers and sales directors to being customer-facing and dealing with warranty and repair issues out in the field. I still love to get my hands dirty,” he said.
“We push our barriers and love to take on things we haven’t done before. We will never say no unless there’s a really good reason to. And it’s this attitude that’s allowed us to triple our sales over the last five years. Our technical team or refrigeration experts will help our customer choose the best solution every time. We also hold extensive stocks of evaporators and condensing units from leading manufacturers, meaning we can provide solutions the next day in all parts of the country.”
With mechatronics and electrical engineering qualifications that sit alongside his extensive refrigeration experience, Woods is always on hand to help customers find the ideal solution for their needs. “I will always try to fill in the gaps for my customers where their knowledge may be lacking, while ensuring we are offering a competitive solution,” he said.
In addition to supporting sales and production, it is also Woods’ remit to decide where the business heads strategically. For him, the industry’s biggest challenge is the adoption of A2L refrigerants.
“There’s no doubt that A2Ls are the industry’s biggest change and while it’s still the elephant in the room, everybody has got to adopt them — we have no choice. It is something I’m really trying to push in the business at the moment. We need to be in that arena and to help our customers through the transition period from HFCs to HFOs and mildly flammable refrigerants.”
He acknowledges there are currently some concerns among contractors about the guidelines for A2Ls but insists Wolseley Climate is already working to guide customers through the process of risk assessments as the industry works towards the target of having an average GWP of below 400.
“As a forward-thinking business, we’ve got to be working well below those 2030 targets, to operate effectively in the market. We’ve got new refrigerants coming on at 148 GWP and they are going to have to be adopted by the industry for small to medium systems. Of course, CO2 and ammonia will still have their place for larger systems, but we will be specialising in those systems that sit above packaged air con and move into the semi-industrial market. Wolseley Climate will concentrate specifically on A2L refrigerants offering a bespoke solution for a process or storage requirement.”
Woods highlights the increased usage of smart controls as another significant trend in the industry. For Wolseley Climate, it is becoming important that the business can enable those that hold refrigeration service contracts to quickly run diagnostics on machinery.
“Everybody wants to monitor equipment. Many apps are being introduced by manufacturers and Wolseley Climate can guide contractors on how to use them or provide training as part of their package alongside the manufacturer. Everybody has got a mobile phone so they are used to using apps; it’s just a case of moving with the times so they can use the data they provide to conduct preventative maintenance. We are going to see a huge reduction in unnecessary call outs for engineers, as issues can be interrogated remotely through a building services monitoring system which will have huge benefits on efficiency.”
Why Wolseley Climate?
Woods believes the business’s adaptability is its key strength, from providing off-the-shelf solutions the next day to being able to modify standard equipment or designing systems from scratch.
“We can take standard equipment and put bells and whistles on it, or we can design from the ground up, or modify equipment if there’s a special requirement on a particular system. We can also provide ultra-low temperature equipment, but we are currently in the process of building equipment to minus 80, so we’re not restricted in our application envelope.”
He says the depth of knowledge that lies within Wolseley Climate also presents it as the ideal choice for bespoke refrigeration systems.
“We like a challenge. We like to learn. As a business, we aren’t afraid to step away from the norm. This game is hard and while it’s a small industry, there is a vast amount of knowledge required to work well within it. You’ve got psychometrics, refrigerant properties, EN378, DSEAR, PED — a whole raft of compliance that you need to be knowledgeable about, advise your customers on and to incorporate within your own product. On top of that, you’ve got your compressors and ancillary equipment and how you can select it, along with your optimum capacities for that application. At Wolseley Climate, we can pass on this knowledge to contractors.”
He says that owning projects with the contractor directly is a huge benefit to customers, with Wolseley Climate being able to fully support them all the way to the final handover, including aftersales assistance on site, with the company’s end-to-end service also delivering supply chain benefits.