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1.09.2014 Production news

VENTS launches in-house laboratory for functional testing of climatic equipment

While designing and engineering climatic equipment the manufacturers face the challenge of testing their solutions under meticulously simulated real-life conditions. This is due to the need of identifying and eliminating all the potential malfunctions in the equipment operation within the entire envelope of temperature conditions.  As far as testing is concerned, a company may either complete a rigorous real-time testing program subjecting the products to real climatic conditions or outsource the testing to specialized laboratories with proper technical facilities allowing accurate simulation of the particular climatic conditions as necessary.

Of course, all ventilation equipment manufacturers opt for the latter and enlist the services of specialized climatic laboratories from Great Britain, Germany, Denmark and Canada. Besides equipment manufacturers these laboratories also meet the needs of national certification authorities from various countries to confirm the parameters declared by manufacturers. Until recently such a specialized laboratory did not exist in Ukraine – therefore VENTS, a leading manufacturer in ventilation solutions worldwide, had to contract reputable testing laboratories from abroad such as the BRE of Great Britain and EXOVA HVAC Laboratory in Canada.

However, equipment testing abroad has always been associated with certain difficulties. After a careful consideration of all the pro et contra the VENTS management decided to build its own laboratory to carry out climatic equipment testing in accordance with all the applicable international standards. So, without undue delay, the company went ahead with the project.

It took the VENTS experts collaborating with world-renowned component suppliers a record-shattering six months to design and implement a state-of-the-art laboratory to carry out functional testing of climatic equipment.

The laboratory comprises four basic structural elements: the climatic chamber, the testing area, the equipment for simulating necessary environmental conditions (i.e. a refrigeration unit, air heating units, an air humidifier etc.) as well as the test control and monitoring station.

The climatic chamber is a completely sealed-off space with 150 mm thick insulation equipped with specialized equipment to simulate the environmental temperature parameters. The air parameters are regulated by means of a refrigeration unit with an evaporator, a variable-capacity compressor and condenser station and an AOW series fan heater equipped with air temperature and humidity sensors. Such a setup enables simulation of any climatic conditions with temperatures ranging from -30 °C to +35 °C, humidity levels – from 40 to 90% and barometric pressure up to 106.4 kPa. The chamber serves as a test bed for the functionality and parameter-compliance testing of electronic components and automatic control units, various ventilation system components, heaters, chillers, recuperators etc.

The compressor station with an evaporation and condensation circuit coupled with an air heating unit helps create the necessary operating parameters inside the climatic chamber. The new laboratory demonstrates an extremely serious approach to the selection of components and materials provided by leading international suppliers: the compressor is a GEA Bock GmbH unit circulating R404A heat transfer fluid, the heat exchangers are made by Günther AG&Co KG and the fans are by ZIEHL-ABEGG and Ebmpapst.

However, it is the testing area that is the pinnacle of the laboratory. This is where the test subject – such as a supply and exhaust unit with heat recuperation and a heat pump – is subjected to all sorts of abuse. The supply and exhaust ducts are connected to the air vents of the climatic chamber. The unit is then fed the simulated “outdoor” air of pre-determined temperature according to the respective standards whereas the air in the testing facility simulates the “indoor” air. The specific operating conditions on the premises are simulated by means of an air heating unit and an air humidifier to adjust the air temperature and humidity as necessary.

All the parameters of the test subject performance are controlled automatically, monitored on the operators’ screens and logged for further analysis. The control station which runs a bespoke monitoring software package developed in-house by the company experts enables remote launch of the climatic chamber, its setup and climatic parameters control. The entire process can be monitored on the screen in real time. The screen also reflects the entire scope of vital information specific to the test subject operation such as temperature, speed and performance.

The testing area also has a water treatment system with heaters, storage tanks and hydraulic distribution/supply lines for the heat-transfer fluid delivery required for testing units equipped with water heaters.

The launch of a proprietary laboratory for testing climatic equipment at the VENTS production facility now enables the company to test its products in-house avoiding any potential delays due to outsourcing. The compliance of the laboratory specifications to the highest international standards allows using the test records produced by the VENTS experts to confirm the compliance of the climatic ventilation equipment with the declared thermal performance of the company’s products.

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