Air conditioning world: Wrong ahu could damage your wealth, says Carrier HH

Robert Snijder, managing director of Carrier Holland Heating BV, talks to Paul Braithwaite about the continuing changes in his company and how buying the wrong ahu could cost a developer dear during the lifetime of a building
Air conditioning world: Wrong ahu could damage your wealth, says Carrier HH
TIME was, says Robert Snijder, managing director of Carrier Holland Heating BV, when quality was all.

This is no longer the case!

The Japanese car industry changed all this.

Now his company follows the principles of its United Technologies parent by using ACE, Achieving Competitive Excellence, as a management tool.

“Continuous improvement is the backbone of all our operations today,” says Robert.

And it can work for any part of the business, not just manufacturing but also administrative systems or accounts.

It is about measuring customer satisfaction, and matching standards in a number of areas – whether it be external or internal customers, or shareholders – to a relentless root cause analysis (RRCA) to check against target figures.

Robert insists a visit to a building site is, for him, a sobering experience.

“It is where you are able to measure how bad – not how good – your equipment is.”

Carrier Holland Heating is, he adds, a company that is known for resolving its issues.

“We take pride in resolving the issues. But we should be taking pride in anticipating the problems and fixing them before they become problems. And we will.”

He maintains the Japanese car manufacturers’ solution of checking products throughout the assembly process, including inspecting materials as they come from the supplier – or even making the supplier responsible for its quality – is now the norm at Carrier Holland Heating.

“CHH is seen as a quality producer in the Dutch and wider European market,” Robert assures. “Perhaps too high a quality...

“But like other suppliers, we are now concentrating on the intangibles, such as energy reduction.”

Robert will even guarantee the energy consumption of CHH ahus.

“If a consultant will supply the temperature figures expected during the year, we will guarantee the energy consumption.”

If the energy consumption figures are wrong, then a service team will go and work out what is wrong and fix it.

He adds that with lifecycle costs playing an ever increasing part, it is imperative customers realise that often buying the wrong unit means it could cost almost double during its lifetime.

“For the sake of an extra £6,000 investment in the beginning, the saving could be as much as £200,000 on energy during the lifecycle of a building.”

And, Robert estimates, some 40% to 50% of customers get it wrong, even now.

A heat recovery wheel in one of Carrier Holland Heating's ahu test rigs

It is mostly the developer who wants to build his offices or commercial site as cheaply as possible and is happy to leave the energy costs to the occupier whereas a company which is building for itself will schedule in the cost savings.

“But changes are being driven by legislation.”

Further, Robert says Carrier Holland Heating has begun to deal up the chain talking to consultants and even developers. Many of them have no idea of the difference the correct ahus can make to the lifecycle costing of a building.

Security for clients

HOLLAND Heating was one of the oldest companies in air handling units. Turnover for today’s company is around £27 million and Robert Snijder says the company is market leader in The Netherlands and market leader in terms of technology. Which is why Carrier bought the company in 2001.

“Carrier was then able to export this technology to the other parts of the group, leap-frogging its rivals in the process. The technology was exported to China and Turkey to manufacturing plants there.”

Of course, CHH’s research has moved on, with the European launch of two new ranges of ahus imminent. One, a heat recovery unit, offering energy savings of up to 90%. And CHH has introduced factory-mounted controls which have the ability to check, control and monitor energy efficiency online, either in-house, with a facilities management company or with CHH.

Robert says this is already working in a small way. With 24 hour monitoring, firms have been able to phone through for a part which Carrier Holland Heating is able to supply ex-stock and the unit can be back up and running in just a couple of hours.

This is why he believes that although small companies can beat larger ones like Carrier Holland Heating on initial price, they do not have the back-up to provide a full service and, increasingly, this is what stores, hospitals and builders want.

However, for projects where longevity is not an issue CHH also makes the SQ range, which will last up to 10 years. The range is aimed at, for instance, stores where refurbishment might be expected around that time.

Everyone at CHH is involved in research and development. And anything goes. For instance, in the factory there was a problem with the ladders so they were shortened which meant operatives could use them more easily and this increased productivity.

Robert says this is a small instance but lots of small instances add up to greater efficiency for the workforce and better ahus.

Again, Robert explains that in 2003, there were four product platforms. Today this has been reduced to two – the HQ and SQ – and with these the company is able to satisfy the needs of virtually 100% of its customers.

“By cutting the complexity of the processes, the company has reduced the number of components, reduced cost, reduced lead time and increased the quality.”

CHH says it holds three days’ worth of supplies in-house. And its suppliers are flexible enough to help out if a large order comes in.

So the factory footprint has been dramatically reduced and further space savings should be possible. CHH’s air handling units are targeted at hospitals (for general use), as well as industry, and are popular with leisure buildings and even cruise ships which, Robert adds, is a real growth business.

1 December 2006


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