Mitsubishi Electric aiming for the next level

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Published: 16 April 2019


chillers manufacture IT cooling technology air conditioning Italy
The MEHITS factory in Belluno, Italy
Mitsubishi Electric believes chillers and IT cooling have a key role to play in achieving its targets. David Todd visits Italy and hears why developing this segment of the market could be significant.
Mitsubishi Electric has its sights firmly fixed on being the undisputed leader in the UK HVAC market by 2020, supported by the continued integration of the DeLclima business it bought three years ago.

The purchase of chiller manufacturer Climaveneta and IT cooling specialist RC Group was completed early in 2016 and the business was subsequently renamed MEHITS (Mitsubishi Electric Hydronics & IT Cooling Systems).
Although Mitsubishi Electric has been making chillers in Japan for more than 40 years, it was not until the launch of its e-series in Europe in 2015, closely followed by the acquisition of DeLclima, that it entered the UK market.

On a visit to the impressive new witness testing and research centre at the Belluno factory in Italy, Mitsubishi Electric head of marketing and sales strategy Phil Ord, said: “Our core products mean we have only ever really played in half of the market. When you look at that, it becomes quite clear why we bought DeLclima. We then get access to chillers, fan coils, IT cooling and air handling units. So it enables us to play in the other half of the market.
“I used to be in consultant sales in London and if I talked to a consultant about a project and it went down the chiller route, the project was dead for me because we had nothing to offer.

“Our vision is to be No 1 in the market by 2020. That means the HVAC leader in all sectors by that time, including the non-DX side. Climaveneta and the RC Group perfectly complements our existing offering to the market.’’
Dovetailing two complex companies, with different cultures and languages, is not without its challenges. As an example, Climaveneta’s previous route to market was via two rival sales organisations, Climaveneta UK and Powermaster UK.

Increased demand
Richard Venga, senior product manager for chillers, ventilation and IT cooling, said: “Mitsubishi Electric has been operating a direct-to-market model for 12 years in the UK. We sell direct to customers and this gives us a very close connection and allows us to be reactive in the market. Everyone who is selling these products in the UK now is working for the manufacturer. We have sales specialists who have been part of the Climaveneta brand for 15 years, an integrated product support structure and all of this is supported by the Green Gateway programme to improve energy efficiency.

“With access to the Italian factories, we have aligned and streamlined production lines and we are in the process of setting up an academy which will help all internal staff to understand the products, and allow customers to have training.’’

The UK has experienced a significant increase in demand for inverter technology, says Venga. “There has been a very swift move from fixed speed over to inverters. We have now launched a full inverter screw product and it is a very important part of our offering. We also have a growing range of inverters in our scroll technology, so we are increasing our portfolio of variable speed chillers, which is very important for the UK.’’

This extended chiller offering should mean that Mitsubishi Electric is well placed to react whichever direction the industry takes in the face of the F-Gas phasedown.

Phil Ord said: “Anything using refrigerant is coming under scrutiny. The RAC and PAC market has massively changed in the last two years from 100% R410A to almost 80% R32. 

“The big question for us is the VRF side of the market. VRF has not really changed in recent years but F-Gas is forcing us to challenge that and a number of manufacturers, including ourselves, are introducing hybrid systems.’’

The manufacturer’s prowess in that area is firmly established. Replicating that success in non-DX through MEHITS could go a long way towards confirming that 2020 vision.
Setting test standards
One of the most visible benefits of the manufacturer’s commitment to R&D is the impressive new MEHITS testing centre in Belluno.
chillers witness testing mitsubishi electric climaveneta
The MEHITS testing centre in Belluno
chillers witness testing mitsubishi electric climaveneta
Inside the new testing centre
chillers witness testing mitsubishi electric climaveneta
The testing centre is described as the most advanced in Europe
Described by Mitsubishi Electric as the most advanced in Europe, the climatic chamber can accommodate water-cooled chillers up to 4.8MW and air-cooled up to 2.2MW, as well as rooftop units, heat pumps and simultaneous heating and cooling units for comfort, process and IT cooling.

It allows for testing in any external air temperatures between -20°C and +55°C, to model climates from Lapland in Norway to Death Valley in California. Rooftop units are also be testable in indoor conditions between 0°C and 30°C, with full humidity control.

For IT cooling applications it is possible to test the combined system of chillers and high precision air conditioners (HPAC) and rack coolers with external air temperature between -20°C and +55°C, indoor temperature up to +35°C and full humidity control.

A comfortable office environment featuring full length windows overlooking the chamber allows for witness testing or quality inspection.

All tests will be compliant with Eurovent, with UNI EN14511 and AHRI Standard 551/591 (SI).
packaged IT cooling
The new s-MEXT is the first MEHITS product to carry the 3 diamonds
Working together
The effects of product integration is highlighted by the recent arrival of the s-MEXT, Mitsubishi Electric's first packaged computer room air conditioning (CRAC) unit.

The high precision systems connect directly to the DX Mr Slim Power Inverter outdoor units to create a full inverter split system.

The s-MEXT is the first MEHITS product certified with the company’s 3 diamonds, taking advantage of more than 50 years of experience of the RC brand within the IT cooling market.


Richard Venga said: “By using our Mr Slim Power Inverter system, our installers are already familiar with not only the system but with the installation process. Therefore, the s-MEXT can be installed quickly and efficiently, without the need to go through time-intensive training. It also means that the Mitsubishi Electric quality is assured as we roll out our first three diamonds-certified IT cooling product. We are excited to be offering the market a product that is familiar, flexible and reliable.”

The units are available in capacities from 6kW up to 42kW and are aimed at applications where high sensible cooling and close control of temperature and humidity are required, such as small and medium sized businesses (enterprise data centres) with IT cooling requirements. They are also available in both upflow and downflow variants.
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Modular chillers on the roof the Teatro La Fenice in Venice
CASE STUDIES HIGHLIGHT PROUD CHILLER HERITAGE
Teatro La Fenice

One of the oldest and most important theatres in Venice, the Gran Teatro La Fenice staged the world premieres of many operas from Rossini, Verdi and others.

It was twice destroyed by fire and, following the second devastating blaze 1996, was rebuilt in the 19th century style and re-opened to the public in 2003. Bespoke Climaveneta air-cooled modular chillers were assembled on site, enabling transport via the Venice canal system.

They were designed to achieve very high efficiency, aided by an integrated heat recovery system.

Another key feature, bearing in mind the venue, was the lowest possible sound emissions and no vibrations. Even today, almost two decades later, the noise from the rooftop units is barely noticeable from inches away.
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The Fondaco dei Teschidi is now an upmarket shopping centre
Fondaco dei Tedeschi
Situated alongside the Grand Canal in Venice, near the Rialto Bridge, Fondaco dei Tedeschi was originally built in 1228 as the  headquarters of the city's German merchants and destroyed twice by fires before being rebuilt in the sixteenth century and used as a Customs office in the Napoleonic period. The restoration of the building, now leased to luxury giant LVMH as an uprmarket shopping centre, was completed in 2016 with the aim of re-establishing the historic link between Venetian culture and commerce.

To achieve the best internal comfort in a wide and tall building featuring a central courtyard, an innovative HVAC system was required. There was also a strong focus on developing the most sustainable solution possible.

The resulting system is based on Climaveneta high efficiency units: two water-cooled multi-purpose heat pumps linked to vertical geothermal probes to further improve the energy performance of the system and an additional air-cooled heat pump with centrifugal fans to manage the seasonal power peaks. Multi-purpose heat pumps are able to produce hot and cold water simultaneously by exploiting the recovery in the production of both liquids and maximizing the energy efficiency of the building throughout the year.