Trane Begins Chiller Charmes Offensive across Europe

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Published: 04 August 2014


Trane Sintesis
Trane Sintesis
As chiller manufacturer, Trane, begins its launch of five new commercial products into the European market, ACR Today editor, Will Hawkins, travelled to Charmes, site of the Trane’s factory in north-east France, to interview Jeff Moe, vice president of product management and marketing in Europe, Middle East and Africa, what is driving the developments.

​Trane has been a leader in chillers for a long time, making its first chiller in 1938. However, the company has been low-key in its marketing activity more recently, and admitted they had not run a press event for over 10 years to talk about new products and developments in the business.
Photo (l to r): Dave Regnery, President of Trane; Jeff Moe
Photo (l to r): Dave Regnery, President of Trane; Jeff Moe
Bruno Girotti, engineer, Trane in front of Sintesis chillerPhoto: Bruno Girotti, engineer, Trane in front of Sintesis chiller
But, the business has, recently, been going through a major transformation to bring out new five new chillers to meet the changing face of the market in Europe and around the world.

The chillers cover a range of capacities between 20kW and 14,000kW and have some significant improvements in the them to meet new legislative, energy efficiency and noise reduction requirements from customers in the healthcare, education, commercial property, process cooling and lodging markets in Europe.

The new ranges are as follows:

  • Trane RTHDevo (water cooled chillers from 500 kW-1500 kW)
  • Sintesis (air cooled chillers from 300 kW-1500 kW) - Stealth™ (quietest air-cooled chiller from 500 kW-1050 kW)
  • Series E™ CenTraVac™ (next generation CenTraVac from
  • 2600 kW-14,000 kW)
  • Conquest (air cooled scroll heat pumps and chillers from 20 kW-165 kW)

Markets for the chillers

WH: You have some ambitious plans for your new chillers. Where do you see most of the growth in your market share coming from for the products?

JM: ‘When we think about market share we, honestly, don’t have that level of precision.’
‘Let me give you two examples. If you think about ice making, where we go down to -8 degrees, that’s a perfect example for ice storage and ice making applications.’

‘On the other hand, when you think about ice rink applications, those would normally go down to a -12 degrees C. This gets really interesting because of the level of specificity in the hardness of the ice for ice rinks.’

‘And, a lot of these are competition rinks. It’s not you and me going skating in winter. It’s for international competition. And so, that’s another level of nuance that we have in there.’

‘I won’t get into the specific market shares and the extent of growth we have. The word I use is ‘significant’. Not incremental. There is significant growth. And for us to hit that significant growth, we must grow in all of the different areas.’

​Influential people

WH: Who are the other people you want to influence other than your direct customers, such as consultants, for example?

JM: ‘Yes, I would say that is a huge part. I don’t want to use numbers, because I don’t have the specific data for that, but let me paint a broad picture. The majority of our products are actually directly purchased by mechanical contractors who acting as an agent for either for the end user or, typically, for a general contractor.’

‘So, because of that, the mechanical contractor, is an extremely important stakeholder of ours.’

‘Especially pertinent in the UK, are the consulting engineers. They are integral in what’s going on. The consulting engineer can look at what the end user needs, puts a specification together and that’s what we bid for.’

WH: How important is the UK to your overall European market plan?

JM: ‘There are importance of markets based on the percentage of volume. And then, there’s the importance of markets based upon the broader influence of volume that comes elsewhere, such as that influence which comes from London.’

‘There is a third one, and its importance of being involved in that market because they may be ‘leading trendsetters’ in what we are seeing in other areas.’

‘A consulting engineer that is a trendsetter is starting to do a very small portion of specs but you can use them to anticipate where the market is going.’

‘Some of these UK trendsetters are global consultants working in Shanghai, Hong Kong, New York or Sao Paulo, for example. They are vital for us and their importance really transcends the small number of them in London.’

‘But, for total chillers, the UK market represents about 8.5% of the total European market. Any market that’s above 5% is very significant for us.’

​Confidence in their chillers

A Tarne operative building a heat exchanger in the Charmes factory.
Photo: A Tarne operative building a heat exchanger in the Charmes factory.
WH: Do you feel as though Trane is ‘game-changing’ here with its new chillers?

JM: ‘Yes, we don’t even talk about we think we are going to grow share. If you could be in some of our discussions, we’re talking about we are going to take market share. We are just that confident.’

‘And, I think it’s confidence based on reality. When you look at these investments that we have put in place; when you look at the broad chiller markets, I calculated that the percent of the market we’re touching with our new products represents more than 90% of the European chiller market. More than 90%. We have significant leading improvements in over 90% of the chiller market.’

​Field testing

WH: Have these products been out in the field yet?

JM: ‘Yes, we have a number of ways to get our products out into the field for trials.’

‘One of them is through our rental fleet. We build some of our early manufacturing prototypes for the rental fleet where we test them in the field and work with customers.’

‘This gives us direct experience with the new products, not just theoretical knowledge. The best way to test these [new products] is with real customers.

Refrigerants

WH: You mentioned that you are using a new HFO refrigerant in some of your new chillers. Can you tell me more about that? It sounds like a big leap.

JM: ‘Yes, it is, but we have carried out extensive testing with it in our products. We are very confident in what we have.’

‘The next generation refrigerants is predominantly driven by climate change and global warming and refrigerant GWP.’

‘Current GWPs range from R134a 1430; R410a is approximately 2000. So, you are in the 1,000 to 2,000 [GWP] range. With this new refrigerant that we have, this HFO refrigerant, there are some different scientific tests out there that place the GWP number between 1 to 10.’

‘In the European F-gas legislation, it is classified officially as 4. When you look at the GWP of a number of the natural refrigerants, they are similar or higher.’

‘So, from an environmental perspective, it is, essentially, solving the direct impact on climate change.’

Less noise, less cost

Trane chiller in productionTrane chiller in production
WH: Another point which came across has been the reduced noise from the new chillers. What is driving this?

JM: ‘In my experience, the basic ‘Centre Ville’ building-type environment which you have in Europe, which is quite different from the US, drives the desire, the need for lower noise.’

‘There are certain regulations you have to hit too.’

‘In the past, you could build screens around it [the chiller] to lower the noise levels. But, now with the reduced noise from the fans, instead of building thicker walls, there is no need to, which saves costs.’
‘Also, to reduce noise people used to reduce the speed of the fans which, in turn, reduces the efficiency of the chiller.’

‘With the new chillers, we can move from our basic to low noise to extra low noise with zero change in efficiency.’

The battle of hearts and minds

Trane's Lean production plans in model form
Trane's Lean production plans in model form
​Trane’s new chillers are a big investment for the business and they mark a big change for the company as it goes out the market to aggressively take market share.

To make this possible, the company has had to change many of its operational activities, including vastly improving its internal communications to make better use of its research and development teams around the world, and moving its manufacturing to a ‘Lean’ process to increase productivity (which is glaringly obvious when you visit the factory in Charmes).
​But, above all, the biggest battle for Trane in its quest to grow its market share is to win the hearts and minds of the consultants, influencers and mechanical contractors who are so vital to its success.

Find out more about the new chillers from Trane on their website. www.trane.com