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Interview with Milan Bašta on the construction of a new test room for heat pumps and other cooling devices

Interview about the project of construction of a new testing laboratory with the project manager Milan Bašta.

When did you first think about building this test station?

We had been thinking about this idea for quite a long time, approximately 6 years. In the beginning, we were looking for a maximum possible scope of the project for a long time, both with regard to the place where this workplace could be, and also in terms of how big an investment commitment we could afford. An important factor influencing our decision was also the possibility to make advantage of subsidies from OPPIK programme.

How big is the project?

In view of the fact that all SZU premises were planned in the nineties as a comprehensive concept, this has been the biggest project in the whole history of SZU.

Why did you decide for this particular project?

It is due to several factors. We consider this field to be very prospective and SZU has been firmly established in it. We have found a lot of customers in our country and abroad that keep coming back and their numbers have been increasing. We have also come across capacity limits, both in terms of the number of products that we are able to test during a certain time, and also in view of what products we can test with regards to their efficiency and size. Last but not least, this field has been developing fast and there have been a lot of innovations, mainly with regards to the possibility of using new refrigerants that have a much lower impact on the environment.

Is the new test station being built on the so-called green lawn, or is it part of the already existing premises and buildings?

Unfortunately, it was not possible to build the test station on the green lawn and we had to find a compromise. The test station will be incorporated in the existing premises with some adjustments. On the other hand, this decision has allowed us to use the extensive premises of the Gas Burner Test Station, which had not been much used before.

Has the whole project of building a new test station been performed by an external company or have you been doing it yourselves?

The project for the technological part, including the technical specifications for individual suppliers, is based on our own know-how. SZU has also been providing a fairly large part of the installation of pipelines and the creation of superstructure control and measuring software. We have been using external companies for some parts of the project, such as construction work.

When do you think you will start using the new test station?

The test station will have been completely built by 31 December 2020. But official testing of heat pumps, for example, will start from mid-2021 at the latest. This new workplace is surely a big project and we will have to dedicate a lot of time to internal test operation, which includes tuning of control modes, software optimization, performing calibrations, subsequent verifications, etc. We have to make sure to provide our customers with the best and flawless services right from the very first measurements.

What main benefits can the new testing laboratory bring to your customers?

There will be a considerable increase in our testing capacity and term flexibility. We believe that thanks to the new test stations, we will be able to guarantee our customers from the heat pump field a term of testing within 2 months from receiving their order. As we will be able to test in up to 4 climatic chambers at once, the testing time will be reduced.

The construction of the cabins is designed to allow for the measurement of performance parameters and the measurement of acoustic parameters in the same space, without the need for further installation. This will also save time to our customers. It will of course be possible to condition the space for specific operating modes of refrigeration equipment, again in terms of acoustic parameters. Another advantage is also the expected speed of the required parameters to be obtained inside the individual cabins, which means that the transition from one operating state to another will be faster.

Can you tell us about some features or elements of the test station that you consider unique?

Our technical solution will provide long-time stability of the internal environment of cabins with the elimination of the effect of icing, which is very important for testing in conditions with increased humidity. The individual cabins achieve very low acoustic background values, which will allow us to measure significantly quieter products than before. Our technical background and our own test technology will make it possible to recover the generated energy very efficiently so that the energy for cooling will be as low as possible. We will also be able to use the excess heat in the winter for heating SZU buildings.

There has been an increasing number of products with flammable and explosive refrigerants on the market. Will the new workplace be able to test these products?

Yes, it will be possible. The workplace will be equipped with reliable detection of possible leakage, with subsequent controlled ventilation mode.

What are your main goals regarding this modern workplace?

We are convinced that refrigeration equipment technology is a dynamically developing field but there are still not enough test stations, not only in the Czech Republic. Our main goal is therefore to increase available capacities and exploit the potential of the market. We would also like to increase the reputation that we have built up so far in the field of testing heat pumps in the EU and in the world.We will gradually expand the competencies of this new workplace to other related fields, such as chillers, refrigeration furniture or condensing units.

Last but not least, our goal is to provide the most modern and high-quality technical background, which will give manufacturers the opportunity to develop and subsequently test the features of tested products so that they can keep up with the times and their products are competitive and fully marketable everywhere.

How will this change your position in terms of competitiveness compared to other renowned European testing stations?

We will reach the same level and some of the innovative elements mentioned will even be unique in comparison with the competition.


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